This is it, boys and girls, the day we've all been waiting for since we learned back on December 6 that the United States would be one quarter of Group G, this year's Group of Death. I don't need to dwell here on the quality that Germany, Portugal and Ghana have, so let's jump right into the reason your reading this post, our staff predictions.
The winds have started to turn just a tiny bit for the US. I'm not sure I buy the "hope Germany wins twice and doesn't care about the third game" logic, as Germany has spoiled dreams in similar scenarios for more than one opponent. If the US can beat Ghana, we can escape this group. Germany should win it, but don't be surprised if they labor in the heat. Portugal is showing that they're not very good without Cristiano Ronaldo, and if anyone is prepared for Manaus it's the team full of guys who have played August games in Houston or Dallas. Emotions heavily involved, I see the US getting to 5 points (a total that makes elimination virtually impossible). Ghana takes third, and everyone around the world talks about how they don't like Pepe.
The one I deliberately left for last in my writeups. Germany is a monster and will pretty much do what they want here. It is still hard to figure what Ghana is going to do, but I imagine they'll be tough yet will not get out of group. Portugal, so long as they encase Cristiano Ronaldo in bubble wrap against Germany and they will likely get points against Ghana and the US, and while Germany and Portugal get out of group, more casual US fans will ask (and many more will write) about why Landon Donovan didn't come to Brazil.
Germany has lost, what, 4 group stage matches ever? No reason to think they'll lose one even in the Group of Death. Germany finishes first. And in 2nd, a Jozy Altidore goal is the difference in Manaus as the US of A beats Portugal and that ends up being the difference as the Yanks go marching into the 2nd Round.
Adam M Taylor
Call me the eternal optimist, but I think we do it. A win against Ghana is a must, and at least one point in the jungle against Portugal is as well. But those are both entirely reasonable asks, and Klinsi has his charges playing well out of several different systems. So long as Good Jozy Altidore shows up and the defense holds itself together, the USA will grab second place in this group, joining Germany in the round of 16.
The group of death. There is a group with stronger teams at the top (see Group B), but none is deeper than USA's group. Germany are the favorites for a reason, and despite their recent injuries, will win the group. The US gets through in second place barely ahead of Portugal and Ghana. Michael Bradley is the star for the US, and Jozy Altidore scores with regularity. And Tim Howard shows why he is a world-class keeper. I can't distinguish analysis and sheer fan hope in this group, so here's to hoping the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave makes it to the knockout stages!
Are you as optimistic as 4/5 of our panel? Or do you think Ghana or Portugal will leave the US behind? Sound off in the comments.