The LA Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan have a clearer picture of what they'll face next summer in Brazil, as the United States was drawn into Group G with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. The US will open the tournament June 16th against Ghana with a 3:00pm Pacific kickoff in Natal which is located on the Northeast coast of the country. MLS has already announced it will take a two week break for the group stages next season.
The US will have lots of traveling to do going from the coast into the Amazon and then back out to the coast for their three group matches. That match in the Amazon will be held on June 22nd against Portugal, before finishing against Germany back on the coast.
The initial reaction amongst fans and analysts was largely panic, as Group G has the highest average FIFA rankings per group, with Group D close behind. However, the US are fortunate to avoid a South American side in a S. American hosted World Cup. European sides lose some juggernaut status playing in the tropical climates of Brazil. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, but they finished behind Russia in qualifying. Ghana have beaten the US in the last two World Cups, the only two all time meetings between the two countries, but the US gets them first.
"Obviously it's one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw," U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said to ESPN. "Having Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo and then Ghana who has a history with the United States, it couldn't get any more difficult or any bigger. But that's what a World Cup is about. It's a real challenge and we'll take it. We'll take it on and hopefully we're going to surprise some people there."
The full groups and the US matches are as follows:
2014 FIFA World Cup Groups:
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
USA's Group G Schedule at 2014 FIFA World Cup:
June 16: USA vs. Ghana, 6 p.m. ET, Estadio Das Dunas in Natal
June 22: USA vs. Portugal, 3 p.m. ET, Arena Amazonia in Manaus
June 26: USA vs. Germany, Noon ET, Arena Pernambuco in Recife
If the US advances, they'll face a team from Group H. If the US finishes second in the group, that would likely be Belgium as Group H winner though it is the World Cup and anything could happen. That knockout round match would happen either June 30th or July 1st.