Klinsmann: USA Not 'Underdogs' in Group with Portugal, Germany, Ghana

Klinsmann: USA Not 'Underdogs' in Group with Portugal, Germany, Ghana

The Unites States men’s soccer team is in the same 2014 World Cup draw as powerhouse Germany, Ghana, a nation that has knocked out the United States during the last two World Cups, and Portugal, a squad that boasts one of the world’s phenomenal soccer talents in Cristiano Ronaldo.

The U.S. squad will have to travel over 9,000 miles across Brazil to play their three games, and they will have to trek to the depths of the Amazon jungle to play against Portugal in their second game. 

But U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who just happened to win a World Cup for Germany as a player and coached the nation during the 2006 World Cup, refuses to label the men’s team as underdogs in what may be the toughest of the eight groups. 

In an interview with ESPN after the draw was announced on Friday, Klinsmann, who scored a goal against the United States when the two nations met in World Cup play in 1998, said nobody should be surprised if the Americans advance out of the group.

Klinsmann said the World Cup is about challenges and, “we’ll take it.” 

“We’re not underdogs,” he said. 

He also commented that there would be a “lot of emotions involved” when the United States plays Germany because Klinsmann built the German coaching staff and team and won a World Cup with the nation in 1990 as a player. Klinsmann took the Germans to the world cup semifinals against Italy in the 2006 World Cup on German soil. Italy eventually went on to win the tournament. 

“It’s going to be a special moment,” he said. I know the players. It’s going to be a special moment. 

For the United States to advance, they must beat Ghana and secure three points in their first match. Then, they must literally survive and advance against Portugal in the Amazon jungle and aim for a tie. The United States should also hope that Germany defeats Portugal and Ghana and has secured 6 points–and a ticket to the knockout phase–and rests some of their top talent when the the two nations meet for the final game of group play. 

A German team that does not have anything to play for will obviously be easier to defeat than a German team that must produce a result against the United States to advance. The Black Stars of Ghana have struggled of late and Portugal limped into the World Cup, so it is not improbable that the United States will make it out of the group along with favored Germany. But they will need Clint Dempsey to shine on the grandest of stages, Michael Bradley to lead and be the anchor that he is, and stellar goalkeeping play from Tim Howard or Brad Guzan, a keeper that may be better suited against a team like Ghana that may exploit a U.S. defense that has been plagued with problems during the qualifying stage. 

The Draw: Argentina Favored

Though Brazil is hosting the World Cup and may have a superior roster, anchored by Neymar, Argentina has a better chance of making it to the final than Brazil. 

Argentina will likely win its group, which consists of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and a Nigeria team that is not as strong as the squads that lost to Argentina during the 1994 and 2002 World Cups. Argentina, led by all-world superstar Lionel Messi, will play the the second-place team from the group that consists of Switzerland, Ecuador, France, and Honduras. 

On paper, Argentina should not have a problem beating any of those four teams. Argentina will have a quarterfinal battle against the winner of the game between the first-place finisher in the Belgium group and the second-place finisher in the U.S.’s group. In the semifinals, Argentina may face Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, or England, but they are all European teams and European teams do not win World Cups on South American soil like South American teams do not win World Cups on European soil. 

Brazil actually has a more treacherous draw. They have Mexico, a team that had to defeat New Zealand to barely make the World Cup but is nonetheless always talented, in their group. And Brazil will potentially face either Spain, the reigning World Cup champions, or the Netherlands in the first game of the knockout round. 

An Argentina-Brazil final would be a dream South American final. And while oddsmakers may favor that final, Argentina has the clearer path to Rio de Janeiro.

Here is the draw, the schedule for group play games, and the draw for the knockout round:



June 12 4 p.m. ET Brazil v. Croatia
9 p.m. BST Sao Paulo 

June 13 Noon ET Mexico v. Cameroon
5 p.m. BST Natal 

June 17 3 p.m. ET Brazil v. Mexico
8 p.m. BST Fortaleza 
June 18 3 p.m. ET Cameroon v. Croatia
8 p.m. BST Manaus 

June 23 4 p.m. ET Cameroon v. Brazil
9 p.m. BST Brasilia 
June 23 4 p.m. ET Croatia v. Mexico



June 13 3 p.m. ET
8 p.m. BST Salvador Spain v.  Netherlands
June 13 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Cuiaba Chile v. Australia

June 18 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Rio De Janeiro Spain v. Chile
June 18 Noon ET

5 p.m. BST Porto Alegre Australia v. Netherlands
June 23 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Curitiba Australia v. Spain
June 23 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Sao Paulo Netherlands v. Chile


Côte d’Ivoire

June 14 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Belo Horizonte Colombia v. Greece
June 14 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Recife Ivory Coast v. Japan

June 19 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Brasilia Colombia v. Ivory Coast
June 19 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Natal Japan v. Greece

June 24 4 p.m. ET
9 p.m. BST Cuiaba Japan v. Colombia
June 24 4 p.m. ET
9 p.m. BST Fortaleza Greece v. Ivory Coast


Costa Rica


8 p.m. BST Fortaleza Uruguay v. Costa Rica
June 14 9 p.m. ET
2 a.m. BST Manaus England v. Italy

June 19 3 p.m. ET
8 p.m. BST Sao Paulo Uruguay v. England 
June 20 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Recife Italy v. Costa Rica

June 24 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Natal Italy v. Uruguay
June 24 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Belo Horizonte Costa Rica v. England



June 15 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Brasilia Switzerland v. Ecuador
June 15 3 p.m. ET
8 p.m. BST Porto Alegre France v. Honduras

June 20 3 p.m. ET
8 p.m. BST Salvador Switzerland v. France
June 20 6 p.m. ET

11 p.m. BST Curitiba Honduras v. Ecuador
June 25 4 p.m. ET
9 p.m. BST Manaus Honduras v. Switzerland
June 25 4 p.m. ET
9 p.m. BST Rio De Janeiro Ecuador v. France



June 15 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Rio De Janeiro Argentina v. Bosnia-Herzegovina
June 16 3 p.m. ET
8 p.m. BST Curitiba Iran v. Nigeria

June 21 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Belo Horizonte Argentina v. Iran
June 21 6 p.m. ET

11 p.m. BST Cuiaba Nigeria v. Bosnia-Herzegovina

June 25 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Porto Alegre Nigeria v. Argentina
June 25 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Salvador Bosnia-Herzegovina v. Iran



5 p.m. BST Salvador Germany v. Portugal
June 16 6 p.m. ET 
11 p.m. BST Natal Ghana v. United States
June 21 3 p.m. ET 

8 p.m. BST Fortaleza Germany v. Ghana
June 22 3 p.m. ET 
8 p.m. BST Manaus United States v. Portugal 
June 26 Noon ET 

5 p.m. BST Recife United States v. Germany
June 26 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Brasilia Portugal v. Ghana


South Korea

June 17 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Belo Horizonte Belgium v. Algeria
June 17 6 p.m. ET
11 p.m. BST Cuiaba Russia v. South Korea
June 22 6 p.m. ET

11 p.m. BST Rio De Janeiro Belgium v. Russia
June 22 Noon ET
5 p.m. BST Porto Alegre South Korea v. Algeria
June 26 4 p.m. ET

9 p.m. BST Sao Paulo South Korea v. Belgium
June 26 4 p.m. ET
9 p.m. BST Curitiba Algeria v. Russia

Knockout Rounds:

Top half of the bracket:

1A and 2B  

1C and 2D 

1E and 2F 

1G  and 2H  

Bottom half of the bracket:

1B and 2A 

1D and 2C 

1F and 2E 

1H and 2G