mostlycloudy
Monday February 8th, 2016 7:23AM
5:27PM ( 13 hours ago ) Weather Alert

US draws tough World Cup group: Ghana, Portugal and Germany

By The Associated Press
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- The United States will play Ghana, Portugal and Germany in a tough first-round group at next year's World Cup that will take the Americans on a lengthy 9,000-mile trip around Brazil.

Making their seventh straight appearance at soccer's showcase, the Americans were drawn Friday into Group G and will open on June 16 in Natal against Ghana, which eliminated the Americans at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.

The U.S. meets Portugal and 2008 FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo six days later in the Amazon rain forest city Manaus. The Americans have just three off days to recover before closing group play on June 26 in Recife against Germany.

"It's definitely one of the tougher groups, if not the toughest, but at the same time, this is what the World Cup's all about. You go there to play against the best," American forward Jozy Altidore said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I think the boys will be excited, will be up for it."

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann played for Germany's 1990 World Cup championship team and coached his native country to third place in the 2006 tournament, commuting to Europe from his California home in Orange County.

"Obviously it's one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw, having Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo and then Ghana, who has a history with the United States. It couldn't get any more difficult or any bigger," he said. "It's a real challenge. And we'll take it. We'll take it on, and hopefully we're going to surprise some people there."

As the draw pot the U.S. was in was emptied, the Americans and South Korea were the last remaining teams. While the Americans were drawn into the toughest group by FIFA world ranking, with an average of 11.25, South Korea wound up in Group H, creating a group with the highest average at 28.25.

"I kind of had in my stomach that we were going to get Germany," Klinsmann said.

Germany, which beat the U.S. 1-0 in the 2002 quarterfinal, is coached by Klinsmann's former Die Mannschaft assistant, Joachim Loew.

"Obviously, there are a lot of emotions involved. It's normal. I'm German," Klinsmann said. "It's going to be a special moment."

Ranked 14th in the world, the U.S. has alternated quick exits with advancement since returning to soccer's showcase in 1990.

After the draw four years ago, one British paper used a headline "EASY" for England, Algeria, Slovenia and the Yanks, and The Sun called it the "best English group since the Beatles." The Americans wound up atop a group for the first time, and England advanced as the second-place nation.

This time, second-ranked Germany and fifth-ranked Portugal are the favorites to advance to the second round. If the U.S. reaches the round of 16, it would face Belgium, Russia, Algeria or South Korea from Group H.

"I guarantee you Jurgen knows more about Germany than Jogi Loew knows about the U.S," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.

The U.S. will feel pressure to open with a win against Ghana, which is ranked 24th. The Black Stars defeated the Americans 2-1 in the 2006 stage in Germany and by the same score in overtime in the round of 16 at the last World Cup in South Africa.

"After the two losses, it's about time to beat them, I guess," Klinsmann said.

At the 2002 tournament, the U.S. opened with a 3-2 upset of Portugal after taking a shocking three-goal lead in the first 36 minutes.

"Difficult draw, but a group the U.S. can get through if they play well," former U.S. coach Bruce Arena told the AP.

The Americans will train in the U.S. from mid-May on and plan a series of exhibition games, which likely will include England as an opponent, before heading to Brazil.

After having the shortest group-play travel in South Africa, the U.S. will have the longest in Brazil. The Americans will be based in Sao Paulo and face trips of 1,436 miles to Natal, 1,832 miles to Manaus and 1,321 miles to Recife.

"There will be some problems from the organizational side, traveling side. And we hit the worst of the worst," Klinsmann said. "Every coach that I talked to, at least today, said everything but Manaus. No - we get Manaus."

In other groups, it is:

Group A-Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, Mexico;

Group B-Australia, Chile, Netherlands, Spain;

Group C-Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan;

Group D-Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay;

Group E-Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland;

Group F-Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Falcons fire offensive, defensive line coaches
The Atlanta Falcons have fired defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.
7:02PM ( 2 years ago )
Best, worst of Falcons' 4-12 season
Best Game: They'd been eliminated from playoff contention previous week vs. New Orleans, but the Falcons showed some heart with Dec. 1 overtime victory over Bills in Toronto.
6:21PM ( 2 years ago )
Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss
Tony Gonzalez is ready for the next chapter of his life.
9:47PM ( 2 years ago )
Professional Sports
Basketball: February frenzy starts in earnest as region tournaments get underway
If you're a high school basketball fan, then this week represents the zenith of the season...
By AccessWDUN Staff
4:28PM ( 9 hours from now )
Von Miller forced 2 fumbles to set up TDs and the Broncos defense frustrated Cam Newton to carry Peyton Manning to his second Super Bowl title with a 24-10 victory over Carolina
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A reborn Orange Crush might have sent Peyton Manning into retirement with a Super ending to his career.Von Miller and the impenetrable Denver defense harassed Panthers quart...
By The Associated Press
12:02AM ( 7 hours ago )
No. 15 Baseball Sweeps Eagles with 11-3 Win
Daniel McCrary pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball and North Georgia put 11 runs on the board in just three innings as the No. 15 Nighthawks cruised to a series sweep of Carson-Newman with an 11-3 win Sunday afternoon.
By UNG Athletics Communications
11:51PM ( 7 hours ago )
Piedmont pitching sets tone in 7-3 victory over Guilford
Following a game with heavy offensive output on both sides Saturday, it was the pitching that set the tone in the Piedmont College baseball team's 7-3 victory over Guilford College Sunday.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:48PM ( 7 hours ago )
Wrestling: Area wrestlers take down next step toward Traditional titles
Northeast Georgia area wrestlers took the next step toward possible state titles Saturday in Traditional Sectionals held around the state...
11:08PM ( 8 hours ago )