Some call it the group of death, others call it the worst-case scenario for the Americans. The United States Men's National Team? An opportunity to prove themselves on the world's biggest stage.
"It's difficult teams, but that's what the World Cup is about, playing the best teams," forward Clint Dempsey said. "The trick is to get off to an early start, hopefully try to get out of the group, then anything can happen."
Friday's World Cup draw put the United States in good company alongside Portugal, Germany, and Ghana in Group G, with their opening figure against the pesky Ghana side that's given the U.S. fits in recent matchups.
The fans and media personnel flooded in Sporting Park's Boulevard Member's Club couldn't help but groan once the announcement was made.
"I figured we'd be labeled as the group of death," midfielder Graham Zusi said. "That's always a fun storyline. As players, we're not focused on any of that stuff. You're taking it one game at a time. Right now our focus is Ghana, playing Ghana the first game. We're going to do the best we can to win that game and advance."
Before learning their fate, there was a chance that the United States would get a favorable draw. The first two pots generated a less-threatening Group E with Switzerland and Ecuador. However, when that draw came, Honduras was the country unveiled.
"Ultimately, you've got to play good teams, so at the end of the day I think this group, if there was a quote en quote ‘easy' team in it, I actually think it's better that it's all tough teams," midfielder Brad Evans said. "There's no easy points to be had, and I think that will be valuable come the third game. If the teams keep knocking off points off each other, it's one of those groups where anything can happen."
Despite the tough draw, this U.S. team says they're ready to take on the best, pointing out the confidence gained from playing prominent teams in recent years.
"We play against the big teams, some of those teams away from home," Dempsey said. "You know, getting results against Italy away from home was big. France, we didn't a result there, but we got that experience. We've gotten some good results in Europe, I thought, but at the same time we've gotten some good results at home, beating Germany. Even though it wasn't their A-team, they still had players that play on big clubs, and it was still good experience for us."
"We put ourselves in a position by playing some of the best teams in the world these past couple of years, and you know, we've done well," defender Omar Gonzalez said. "It's just all about building on that, and taking these next five months to really prepare good and be ready for the World Cup."
The World Cup preparations for Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will have to wait a few days at least while they prepare to battle Real Salt Lake for the MLS Cup on Saturday at Sporting Park.
"I have a pretty big game tomorrow," Besler said. "Once that happens I will start focusing a little harder."
"You can compare other guys who maybe aren't playing tomorrow, but for me, my focus right now is tomorrow's game. I'm certainly interested in this and excited, but I'll start thinking about it more after tomorrow."