16-June USA (11pm GMT Natal)
22-June Germany (11pm GMT Manaus)
26-June Portugal (5pm GMT Recife)
CONCACAF Gold Cup winners USA qualified comfortably for the 2014 World Cup, and Stephen Donovan argues that they shouldn’t be underestimated despite not appearing as strong as they did in 2010.
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
The man who guided his native Germany to third place when they hosted the World Cup in 2006 will relish the opportunity to face them as the USA Coach in 2014. Appointed in July 2011 to replace the successful Bob Bradley, Klinsmann made a slow start, but has improved results to the degree that the States qualified with time to spare. He has also won some silverware – the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013.
Why they could be dangerous
While they don’t have many players at any of the world’s leading club sides, the USA have a strong team spirit and a lot of togetherness through being a largely settled and well-established group of players. No matter who they come up against, they will be a difficult side to beat, and they will fight right until the final whistle goes as they proved in qualifying and at the last World Cup.
The world on his shoulders: Julian Green
A promising teenage striker who plays for German champions Bayern Munich, Green could be the USA’s secret weapon in Brazil. He brings pace and some youth to a very experienced forward line which has served the country well for a decade or more. Green played for Germany at youth level, but has now earned a cap for the USA since changing his international allegiance. He could be a very useful impact sub.
Did you know?
Since being awarded the right to host the tournament in 1994, the United States have qualified for every World Cup after 40 years of failure prior to that. In this time, they have reached the knock-out rounds on three occasions, but it took them until 2010 for them to top a World Cup group.
Country legend: Landon Donovan
The LA Galaxy star is almost certain to become the USA’s most capped player, as well as its top international scorer. With 57 goals, he is a long way out in front in that regard, and he has been one of the first names on the team-sheet since he was given his first national team appearance as a teenager back in 2000. In that time his goals have helped the States through to the knock-out stages of two World Cups.
With the likes of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in holding midfield positions to protect the back four, who maintain a solid defensive line, it also allows Clint Dempsey to get forward in support of the lone striker. Either side of Dempsey are two wingers in Brad Davis and Landon Donovan, who will be looking to provide some quality service, although the positions in the USA team are very interchangeable.
…Ghana P4 W0 D0 L4 F2 A10
…Portugal P5 W2 D1 L2 F5 A5
…Germany P9 W3 D0 L6 F15 A21
Population: 317.7 million
World Cup appearances: 9
Best finish: Third in Uruguay 1930
Famous for: Causing a massive shock by beating England at the World Cup in 1950, and reaching the second round as hosts in 1994.
Top Division: Major League Soccer
How they got to the World Cup: Finished top of the final section of qualifying in the CONCACAF region, four points above runners-up Costa Rica.
FIFA World Ranking: 14
Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – Finished top of their group but went out in the second round to Ghana, 2-1 after extra time.
Continental Honours: CONCACAF Gold Cup Winners in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013
Most Capped Player: Cobi Jones (164 caps)
Leading International Scorer: Landon Donovan (57 goals)
Nickname: The Stars and Stripes