World Cup 2014

World Cup: What does history tell us about all 31 of the USMNT's potential 2014 opponents?

The USMNT celebrate their win over Panama

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

As the United States national team awaits its group-phase fate, let's take a look and see which countries the Stars and Stripes match up best against historically – as well as those they'd rather avoid.

Against nations from Europe and South America – not surprisingly – the Americans hold a winning record against just one team. That would be Bosnia-Herzegovina, which the US beat in August in their only meeting.

If you're looking for good matchups for the States in group play, cross your fingers and hope Portugal and Uruguay end up with Jurgen Klinsmann's side. The USMNT have played each of those nations evenly, with 2-2-1 and 2-2-2 records respectively.

Against nations from Africa and Asia, the sample size is too small to truly pinpoint a team you'd want to round out group play. However, it's safe to say you'd want to avoid Ghana at all costs, a nation that has essentially bounced the US from the previous two World Cups.

Confederation of African Football (CAF)

Algeria

Route to the World Cup: 5-1-0, 1st in CAF Group H, advanced 3-3 aggregate on away goals vs. Burkina Faso
USMNT record against: 1-0-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 1-0-0
Notable match: In need of a win to advance out of the the 2010 World Cup group phase, the United States got a dramatic win against Algeria courtesy of a Landon Donovan stoppage-time goal in the nations’ only meeting.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 23, 2010, US win 1-0

Cameroon

Route to the World Cup: 4-1-1, 1st in CAF Group I, advanced 4-1 aggregate vs. Tunisia
USMNT record against: 0-0-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: The only meeting between the two teams was in the 2003 Confederations Cup, a scoreless draw that gave the US their only point of the tournament.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 23, 2003, 0-0 draw

Ivory Coast

Route to the World Cup: 4-0-2, 1st in CAF Group C, advanced 4-2 aggregate vs. Senegal
USMNT record against: 1-0-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: Oct. 19, 1992, US win 5-2

Ghana

Route to the World Cup: 5-1-0, 1st in CAF Group D, advanced 7-3 aggregate vs. Egypt
USMNT record against: 0-2-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-2-0
Notable matches: The African county left a sour taste in American mouths when they eliminated the US in the group phase of the 2006 World Cup. They did it again in South Africa in 2010. The US won their group, but Ghana eliminated them in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 win.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 22, 2006, Ghana win 2-1

Nigeria

Route to the World Cup: 3-0-3, 1st CAF Group F, advanced 4-1 aggregate vs. Ethiopia
USMNT record against: 1-0-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 11, 1995, US win 3-2

Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

Australia

Route to the World Cup: 3-1-4, 2nd in AFC Group B
USMNT record against: 1-1-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 13, 1992, Australia win 1-0

Iran

Route to the World Cup: 5-2-1, 1st in AFC Group A
USMNT record against: 0-1-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-1
Notable match: In a match with lots of intrigue thanks to intertwined political history, the two nations met on the World Cup stage in 1998, and the Iranians topped a struggling US, 2-1.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 21, 1998, Iran win 2-1

Japan

Route to the World Cup: 5-1-2, 1st in AFC Group B
USMNT record against: 1-1-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: March 14, 1993, Japan win 3-1

Korea Republic

Route to the World Cup: 4-2-2, 2nd in AFC Group A
USMNT record against: 1-3-2
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-1
Notable match: It didn’t seem like much at the time, but the hosts and eventual third-place finisher in the 2002 World Cup could only manage a draw in group play against Bruce Arena's US.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 12, 1987, Korea Republic win 1-0

Union of European Football Association (UEFA)

Belgium

Route to the World Cup: 8-0-2, 1st in UEFA Group A
USMNT record against: 1-4-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 1-0-0
Notable match: Belgium’s 4-2 win against the US on May 29 was a low point of the Klinsmann era. But the the loss seemed to be a spark for the US, who have been on a roll ever since.
Under Klinsmann: 0-2-0
First meeting: July 13, 1930, US win 3-0

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Route to the World Cup: 8-1-1, 1st in UEFA Group G
USMNT record against: 1-0-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: After falling behind 2-0 early, the US, behind a trio of goals from Jozy Altidore, stormed past a potential fellow World Cup foe for a 4-3 win in Sarajevo on Aug. 14.
Under Klinsmann: 1-0-0
First meeting: Aug. 14, 2013, US win 4-3

Croatia

Route to the World Cup: (5-3-2, 2nd in UEFA Group A, advanced 2-0 aggregate vs. Iceland)
USMNT record against: 0-0-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: While the US and Croatia have yet to play each other officially, the two had a semblance of a match in October 1990 when an All-Star squad of Croatians topped the US, 2-1.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: N/A

England

Route to the World Cup: 6-0-4, 1st in UEFA Group H
USMNT record against: 2-7-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-1
Notable match: In their first World Cup meeting in roughly 50 years, the US and England battled to a 1-1 draw. Many will remember the match as the game gift-wrapped by England ‘keeper Robert Green, who flubbed a Clint Dempsey shot.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 29, 1950, US win 1-0

France

Route to the World Cup: 5-1-2, 2nd in UEFA Group I, advanced 3-2 aggregate vs. Ukraine
USMNT record against: 0-3-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-1-0
First meeting: May 2, 1979, France win 6-0

Germany

Route to the World Cup: 9-0-1, 1st in UEFA Group C
USMNT record against: 3-6-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-2-0
Notable match: The US and Germany tussled in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in Korea Republic. The US’ magical run, however, came to an end when Michael Ballack’s 39th-minute tally disposed of the States.
Under Klinsmann: 1-0-0
First meeting: June 13, 1993, Germany win 4-3

Greece

Route to the World Cup: 8-1-1, 2nd in UEFA Group G, advanced 4-2 aggregate vs. Romania
USMNT record against: 0-0-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: May 28, 1994, 1-1 draw

Italy

Route to the World Cup: 6-0-4, 1st in UEFA Group B
USMNT record against: 1-7-3
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-2-1
Notable match: It would be easy to proclaim the US’ draw in the 2006 World Cup as the most notable of matches, but the team outdid itself in February 2012 when they traveled to Genoa, Italy, and handed the four-time World Cup champions a 1-0 defeat on their own soil.
Under Klinsmann: 1-0-0
First meeting: May 27, 1934, Italy win 7-1

Netherlands

Route to the World Cup: 9-0-1, 1st in UEFA Group D
USMNT record against: 0-4-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: Feb. 21, 1998, Netherlands win 2-0

Portugal

Route to the World Cup: 6-1-3, 2nd in UEFA Group F, advanced 4-2 aggregate vs. Sweden
USMNT record against: 2-2-1
USMNT record against in World Cup: 1-0-0
Notable match: The US started its improbable 2002 World Cup run – after finishing dead-last in 1998 – with a win over a nation that some thought would win the whole tournament. The US raced out to a 3-0 lead, aided by an own goal, and held on for a 3-2 win.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: Sept. 20, 1978, Portugal win 1-0

Russia

Route to the World Cup: 7-2-1, 1st in UEFA Group F
USMNT record against: 0-2-3
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-1
First meeting: Feb. 13, 1993, Russia win 1-0

Spain

Route to the World Cup: 6-0-2, 1st in UEFA Group I
USMNT record against: 1-4-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-0
Notable match: Spain won the UEFA Euro 2008 and was rolling into South Africa for an eventual 2010 World Cup championship run. However, a year earlier, the US caught the Spaniards by surprise with a 2-0 win in the Confederations Cup semifinals – that after stumbling through group play and barely advancing.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: June 25, 1950, Spain win 3-1

Switzerland

Route to the World Cup: 7-0-3, 1st in UEFA Group E
USMNT record against: 1-3-3
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-1
Notable match: The hosts began their run at the 1994 World Cup with a draw against the Swiss. That point ultimately helped the Americans advance to the Round of 16 as a third-place team in what was then a 24-team tournament.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: Sept. 6, 1978, Switzerland win 2-0

Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)

Costa Rica

Route to the World Cup: 5-2-3, 2nd in CONCACAF
USMNT record against: 13-13-6
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: The CONCACAF rivalry was spiced up a bit after the US won controversially in World Cup Qualifying on March 22, 2013 while both teams struggled to play on a snowy pitch at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Under Klinsmann: 2-2-0
First meeting: Aug. 19, 1975, Costa Rica win 3-1

Honduras

Route to the World Cup: 4-3-3, 3rd in CONCACAF
USMNT record against: 14-4-3
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: In the most recent installment of the CONCACAF rivalry, the US, who've dominated Honduras head-to-head, disposed of their opponent in the Gold Cup semifinals, 3-1, behind a two-goal Landon Donovan effort in front of more than 81,000 fans at Cowboy Stadium.
Under Klinsmann: 3-1-0
First meeting: March 17, 1965, US win 1-0

Mexico

Route to the World Cup: 2-3-5, 4th in CONCACAF, advanced 9-3 aggregate vs. New Zealand
USMNT record against: 17-32-13
USMNT record against in World Cup: 1-0-0
Notable match: Rivalry games are huge – as they always are between Mexico and the US – but that ratcheted up several notches when the two met in the Round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup. The Americans prevailed in memorable fashion, 2-0.
Under Klinsmann: 2-0-2
First meeting: May 24, 1934, US win 4-2

South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)

Argentina

Route to the World Cup: 9-2-5, 1st in CONMEBOL
USMNT record against: 2-6-2
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-0
Notable match: On June 13, 1999, the US notched an improbable win in Washington, D.C., when an 88th-minute Joe Max-Moore goal propelled them to a one-goal victory.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: May 30, 1928, Argentina win 11-2

Brazil

Route to the World Cup: Host
USMNT record against: 1-16-0
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-0
Notable match: After stunning many by advancing to the Round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup, the US battled Brazil tough on the Fourth of July in Palo Alto, Calif., falling to the eventual champion, 1-0. The most memorable moment of the game was when Leonardo was given straight red for a vicious elbow to the US’ Tab Ramos.
Under Klinsmann: 0-1-0
First meeting: Aug. 17, 1930, Brazil win 4-3

Chile

Route to the World Cup: 9-6-1, 3rd in CONMEBOL
USMNT record against: 3-4-2
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-1-0
Notable match: In their only meeting in the World Cup, 1950 in Brazil, Chile pounded the US by a 5-2 scoreline.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: July 2, 1950, Chile win 5-2

Colombia

Route to the World Cup: 9-4-3, 2nd in CONMEBOL
USMNT record against: 3-9-4
USMNT record against in World Cup: 1-0-0
Notable match: Arguably the most memorable win in US history, the heavily-favored South American nation fell 2-1 to the US in the 1994 World Cup thanks to an own goal by Andres Escobar.
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: Feb. 5, 1961, Colombia win 2-0

Ecuador

Route to the World Cup: 7-5-4, 4th in CONMEBOL
USMNT record against: 2-5-4
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-1-0
First meeting: Nov. 30, 1984, 0-0 draw

Uruguay

Route to the World Cup: 7-5-4, 5th in CONMEBOL, advance with 5-0 aggregate vs. Jordan
USMNT record against: 2-2-2
USMNT record against in World Cup: 0-0-0
Notable match: N/A
Under Klinsmann: 0-0-0
First meeting: May 29, 1924, Uruguay win 3-0