Commentary | No favors for Team USA in World Cup draw

December 7, 2013 

The odds weren't in their favor before Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw.

Experts predicting a difficult path from the group stage were on the money as the United States Men's National Team's chances became quite bleak upon learning its fate.

Uncle Sam's Army drew a devastating group of Germany, Ghana and Portugal when next summer's soccer showcase, and the most popular sporting event in the world, begins in Brazil.

It's called the Group of Death.

It's more like the Group of No Chance for Team USA.

Germany is practically assured of a spot in the second round; the Germans seemingly always make a deep run in major international tournaments.

Since the field was expanded to its current format of 32 teams in 1998, Germany has always made at least the quarterfinals and tallied a runner-up finish and two third-place finishes.

That's good from a historical context, but add in Germany's current crop of stars -- Mesut Özil, Philip Lahm, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze -- and it's not an enviable task for Team USA.

Ghana, meanwhile, is a potent African side that has eliminated the USMNT from the last two World Cups. The last one came in heartbreaking fashion after extra time in South Africa in 2010.

The Black Stars qualified by destroying Egypt 7-3 over two legs of their African qualifier. Asamoah Gyan provides the potent force up front for Ghana, which Team USA fans remember all too well. Gyan provided the winning goal in 2010 when the two teams met in the second round.

Then there is Portugal, which possesses a player in Cristiano Ronaldo that is debated along with Argentina's Lionel Messi as the game's best.

Ronaldo seems to be hitting his prime after a hat trick in the second leg of Portugal's European play

off tie with Sweden that provided his country passage into the World Cup.

Worried yet?

Well, USMNT fan, don't fret quite yet.

There is a silver lining, if you can believe it.

The order of the matches plays into the U.S. team's hands.

Facing Ghana in the group opener, while heavyweights Germany and Portugal battle, should give USA a fast start.

So, a victory there coupled with a Germany win sets the United States up with not necessarily needing three points against the Portuguese, who line up as the second opponent for Uncle Sam's Army in Group G.

Finally, manager Jürgen Klinsmann won the World Cup with Germany in 1990 as a player and led Die Mannschaft (The Team) to a third place showing in 2006 from the touchline.

German manager Joachim Löw was an assistant under Klinsmann, so the latter has a good grasp of what his former side likes to do.

Now wake up.

The reality is this: The United States will be lucky to get a point (one draw) from its three group matches and will most likely return from Brazil exiting early.

Should that happen, it'll follow a trend of bad World Cup results following good World Cup results.

Team USA made the second round in 1994, the quarterfinals in 2002 and the second round in 2010, while crashing out in the group stages in 1998 and 2006.

It's time for another early exit.

But what else can you expect when you're drawn into the Group of No Chance?

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill.

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