On Dec. 6, 2013, when the FIFA selection committee created the groups for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, all the United States could do was shake their collective heads. How could the top of the CONCACAF group and arguably a top 10 team in the world get paired with the likes of Germany (No. 2), Portugal (No. 4) and their arch enemy, Ghana (37)?

Cries of “rigged” came out by the conspiracy theorists of the world. While there’s no doubt FIFA officials could be capable of corruption (Quatar, anyone?), the American fans have already lowered their expectations for the 2014 World Cup. For most fans, the chances of team USA advancing deep into the tournament went up in smoke when the “Group of Death” was announced.

While most observers expect the U.S. to depart in three straight losses, there are some like me, who believe they can defy the odds. With that in mind, here is the Hitchhikers Guide to the “Group of Death”:

 

Step One: Germany needs to beat Portugal

Portugal struggles against strong defensive minded teams. If you can stop Ronaldo you can stop Portugal. Germany can. “Die Mannschaft” has won their last three consecutive games against Portugal.
(Germany – 3 points / Portugal – 0)

Klose Germany's Miroslav Klose can be the all time World Cup Leader in Goals with two against Portugal Reuters

 

Step Two: Beat Ghana

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Team USA needs to get revenge against the African team that has beat them in two consecutive World Cup tournaments. They MUST beat Ghana.
(USA – 3 points / Ghana – 0)

Team USA Team U.S.A. needs to beat Ghana in order to get out of group play. Reuters

 

Step Three: Draw or Beat Portugal

This might be the most unrealistic part of the equation, but hear me out, when the United States faces Portugal on June 22nd, it will be held in the Arena Amazona in Manaus. That is where England and Italy faced off in record high temperatures and humidity. The US has played all over central and South America for the past two years, they have played in almost every weather condition imaginable, the jungle is to our advantage. Portugal can be broken (just ask Northern Ireland and Isreal), but in the World Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann is just the man to do it. In the 2006 World Cup, Klinsmann’s Germany squad destroyed Portugal 3-1 in the third place match.
(USA – 6 or 4 points / Portugal - 0 or 1)

Ronaldo Team USA needs to break Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in the jungle in their second game of the "group of death.: Reuters

 

Step Four: Hope for a generous German squad

Experts predict Germany to win their first two matches of the group. Assuming they do, they come to their June 26th match with team USA either tied with them atop the group with 6 points or ahead of them by 2 points. With a second round seat sealed for Germany at that point, they make take it easy on the United States in honor of their former countryman Klinsmann for nostalgia’s sake, or they might just do the smart thing and rest some of their star players who are battling injuries. Marco Reus, Germany’s best attacker is out with torn ankle ligaments and Miroslav Klose, Germany’s all time leading scorer, has been dealing with foot and thigh injuries all year. Let’s hope Germany chooses rest and recuperation over unnecessary dominance and team USA is on to the knockout round!
(USA – 9, 7, or 5 points / Germany - 6 or 7 points / Portugal - 3 or 4 points / Ghana – 0 points)

German Coach Germany's national soccer team coach Joachim Loew, needs to give his players and team USA a rest in the third game of group play. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Forewarning, this guide is the equivalent to walking up to a roulette table and putting all your money on 00, only to see it hit. However unlikely, it is possible. If the US Draw with Ghana tomorrow, they would have to beat Portugal in their second game to still make it out. Two consecutive draws, or two consecutive losses however and you might as well go play the lottery. If team USA follows my Hitchhikers Guide to the “Group of Death”, then we should all be celebrating the stars and stripes on the 4th of July


Will the U.S. survive the 'group of death... by thewashingtonpost