Few World Cups have been more anticipated by the United States as a whole, as the country is eager to prove it can hang with the big boys in Brazil.
This is arguably the best USMNT we've seen. The team has ascended to No. 14 on the FIFA rankings after absolutely dominating in CONCACAF qualifying over the past year.
Led by mainstays such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley—and buoyed by the strong international play of striker Jozy Altidore—the United States will head to Brazil as confident as they've ever been.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann discussed the difficulty and excitement of USA's draw, courtesy of U.S. Soccer on YouTube:
Let's take a closer look at what stands between them and a date in the knockout rounds.
|United States Group Fixtures|
|June 16||6 p.m. ET, 11 p.m. BST||Ghana|
|June 22||3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. BST||Portugal|
|June 26||Noon ET, 5 p.m. BST||Germany|
GK: Tim Howard
LB: DaMarcus Beasley
CB: Matt Besler
CB: Omar Gonzalez
RB: Brad Evans
DM: Jermaine Jones
DM: Michael Bradley
LM: Fabian Johnson
CAM: Clint Dempsey
RM: Landon Donovan
ST: Jozy Altidore
GK: Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
DF: Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron, Edgar Castillo
MF: Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman
FW: Aron Johannsson, Eddie Johnson
GK: Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid
DF: Michael Parkhurst, Steve Cherundolo, Michael Orozco, John Brooks, Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler, Carlos Bocanegra
MF: Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden, Jose Torres, Brek Shea, Brad Davis, Danny Williams
FW: Chris Wondolowski, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez, Juan Agudelo
Here's what we know for sure: Donovan, Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley, Beasley, Besler, Gonzalez and Howard all seem likely to start, though Guzan is a promising alternative at keeper. Evans, Jones, Fabian Johnson, Eddie Johnson, Goodson, Cameron and Zusi will all make this team, though a starting place isn't certain for any of them.
And after that, well, it all comes down to the individual preferences of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Fabian Johnson seems at his best operating on the left wing, and the combination of him, Donovan, Dempsey and Altidore in the attack—with Bradley feeding them from his deeper position—creates an entertaining and potent attacking force.
And Zusi has certainly played well enough for the USMNT to enter his name into that mix.
After that, the roster offers far more questions than answers. The defense is by far the weakest part of this team, and there aren't many solutions available to improve in that regard. As well, it remains to be seen if Jones will start alongside Bradley or if Klinsmann will roll the dice on a player like Diskerud.
Of course, for all of his technical issues, Jones is a physical force in the middle of the pitch and provides cover for the box-to-box Bradley and the shaky USMNT defense. He may not have the prettiest game, but his work rate, leadership and physical play make him an asset nonetheless.
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