When the U.S. Men’s National Team commences play on June 16 in the 2014 World Cup, it’ll start out in what many are calling “the group of death.” The way the World Cup works is that the 32 qualifying teams are divided into eight groups of four, listed from A to H. After playing each other, the top two teams from each group then advance to a single-elimination round of 16. The United States has drawn Group G, which includes European powerhouses Germany and Portugal, as well as Ghana, out of Africa.
All one has to do is look at the FIFA World Rankings to figure out why this group is nicknamed the group of death. Germany comes in as the No. 2 team in the world, and Portugal isn’t too far behind at No. 4. Even the U.S., which has a fighting chance to advance (though a few lucky bounces may be needed), is the 13th-ranked team in the world. The only one in the group that isn’t ranked in the world’s top 25? Ghana.
Coincidentally, Ghana’s the team the Americans should probably worry most about. And it’s not a result of their impressive talent or phenomenal style of play — it’s because of history. Here’s a statistic for you: The United States has a 0-4 record against Ghana. While the first two losses came in 1983 and don’t have a lot of relevance in this issue, the latter two still don’t sit well with the USMNT.