WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group G - USA capable but is this group too tough?
World Cup campaigns of recent years have provided mixed results for the USA.
Four years ago they were narrowly beaten by group opponents Ghana in extra-time in the Round of 16 which came after they grabbed just a single point at Germany 2006 to finish bottom of their group.
2002 saw the Americans make it through to the quarter-finals only to be edged out by another 2014 group opponent in Germany.
This year, the US again find themselves in a very precarious position regarding their World Cup hopes as they have been drawn in a very difficult group alongside the Germans, the Ghanaians and Portugal.
Juergen Klinsmann has put together a side which is bound together by youth and experience, as well as local MLS players and those plying their trade in Europe, but is that enough to take it up to three quality football sides in front of the rest of the world?
Manager: Juergen Klinsmann
Fixtures: Ghana - June 16 (Natal), Portugal - June 22 (Manaus), Germany - June 26 (Recife)
Past outings against group opponents: The US have met Ghana on two occasions in the past, both at World Cups, only to be beaten twice. Ghana won 2-1 in the group stage in 2006 before getting the better of the Americans with a 2-1 extra-time victory in the Round of 16 in 2010.
USA have lost to Portugal two times, have drawn once and lost twice in five previous meetings. The Americans won 3-2 in a thrilling group stage match in the 2002 WC in Suwon.
USA have taken on Germany nine times in the past for three wins and six defeats. The most recent meeting ended with the Americans winning 4-3 in a friendly in June 2013. There have been two past World Cup clashes - in 1998 when Germany won 2-0 in the group stage - and in 2002 when the Germans saluted 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
World Cup utopia: Getting out of this tough group would be a fair achievement. Advancing past the Round of 16 would be monumental.
Doomsday scenario: Finishing bottom of the group.
Qualified by virtue of: Finishing top of CONCACAF qualifying group.
Best result at a World Cup: Third (1930)
The experience of the older US players will go a long way to determining how this team fares at Brazil 2014.
The likes of Dempsey, Howard, Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley and Jermaine Jones will really have to lead the way if the American side is to qualify from their group ahead of either Germany or Portugal.
Klinsmann has blended some talented younger players in with his tried and true stars which shows he is looking to pave the way for the future.
His decision to leave all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan out of his final 23 indicates that he is prepared to take risks in order to better the national team setup.
Donovan's absence will give chances to the likes of Aron Johannsson, who has been on fire for AZ Alkmaar in Holland, Mix Diskerud, much-improved MLS winger Graham Zusi and Bayern Munich teenager Julian Green.
It is the exuberance and liveliness of these types which could inspire the older heads to produce their very best on the big stage but all of the USA's top players will have to synchronize if they want to lay down a challenge tho eir Group G opponents.
Recent results in friendlies - which provided three wins in a row - have the US playing in a confident manner and they will need all the assuredness they can get as they prepare for their all-important opening match with Ghana.
A win over the Africans is vital for the US' knockout phase chances and they will need to get a draw against either the Portuguese or the Germans to be any hope.
Klinsmann certainly has a capable roster of players at his disposal who all play with pride for their nation but is that enough to advance past one of the hardest groups at Brazil 2014?
Prediction: Group stage elimination.
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