KANSAS CITY, Kan. — There were few optimists on Friday after the US national team was drawn into the next summer's Group of Death with Germany, Portugal and archnemesis Ghana.
But the USMNT's captain was one of them.
“We have the quality if we play our best ball to get out of the group,” Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey told reporters shortly after the draw.
“It is tough, but one that we feel like no reason why we can’t get out of,” echoed USMNT and Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who will play for MLS Cup 2013 on Saturday (4 pm ET on ESPN, UniMas, RDS/TSN2).
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What could possibly have Dempsey and Beckerman in such a positive mood about their prospects?
“I guess you would say we’re underdogs for sure in that group and that’s not a bad place to be,” Beckerman said. “When no one really believes you can get out of this group, you can just have this us-against-the-world mentality."
Dempsey insisted that the key is getting off to a good start, but their tournament opens against Ghana, the African team that knocked them out of the last two World Cups.
“We’re due a win,” Dempsey said about the Ghana opener on June 16. "They’re the team that beat us and kind of crushed our dreams to go on further in the World Cup. I think we’re due a little bit of luck and due a win against them.”
And while facing arguably the world's best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, and No. 5-ranked Portugal won't be a cakewalk on June 22, it's the Germany match to close the group on June 26 that's the most intriguing since former German national team player and coach Jurgen Klinsmann now manages the USMNT.
“It’s almost like a Hollywood story,” commented Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi. "It’s almost like it was written beforehand.”
"I’ve never seen a coach more excited to face anybody than when we played Germany this summer and more fired up before, at halftime, during the game," Seattle Sounders and USMNT player Brad Evans. "It was pretty incredible and guys fed off that emotion and will continue to do so in that game against Germany."
Like Dempsey, Evans agrees that the fact that Group G is the Group of Death means that all four teams will be taking points from each other, which means that it will likely come down to the third and final match for the final verdicts.
"If teams keep knocking points off each other then it’s one of those groups where anything can happen," Evans said. "For us, we’ve got goals to advance and that will remain no matter what the group is."