Group stage

Team USA and the Group of Death

Of the eight groupings in the World Cup finals in Brazil, one is considered to be the “Group of Death” given the caliber of the teams lumped together. By all accounts, this would be Group G. And by all accounts, the team that is considered least likely to make it out of the group stage of competition (a round-robin competition where each team plays every other team in the group and the team with most points advances) is  the United States. Other Group G group mates are Germany, Ghana and Portugal, all of whom have serious talent, speed and experience.

U.S. Men

This will be Team USA’s first World Cup under the leadership of German coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and hopes are high (even if expectations are low). After being signed as national coach in 2011, Klinsmann garnered criticism for an inauspicious start that included losing four of his first six games. Since then, though, he’s netted some impressive victories over Italy and archrival Mexico and its fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup last year over Panama.

Klinsmann, who signed a contract with US Soccer last year that will keep him at the helm through the 2018 tournament in Russia, made waves recently when he left the Americans’ top all-time goal scorer, veteran midfielder Landon Donovan, off his 23-man roster heading to Brazil. Meantime, however, Klinsmann will be leaning on other veterans to fight the good fight in Brazil.

That would include goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has played for Premier League club Everton since 2007, and has been on the national roster since 2002 and has made two previous World Cups appearances.

In this clip here, Howard is talking about the USA’s 2-1 victory over Turkey in a recent warm-up match.

(photo courtesy U.S. Soccer Federation)