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World Cups are supposed to be tough

The United States got a tough draw, but the 2014 World Cup is a chance to show it belongs.

No, it isn't the best draw the United States could have hoped for in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but it isn't the worst either.

There is no question that the USA being placed in Group G with three-time World Champion Germany, Portugal and Ghana is tough – very tough.

Still I don't want to hear any whining from the United States Soccer Federation. I wouldn't want to hear it even if Team USA had been slotted in the so-called "Group of Death" – Group D which is comprised of reigning champion Spain, three-time finalist Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

Frankly, the Aussies are going to make a long trip around the world just to go 0-3 in Pool Play.

Reigning champion Spain got not breaks having to open with a rematch of the 2010 Final against a strong Dutch team. Spain could then end up facing five-time champion Brazil to open the knock out stage.

Brazil is home but Spain, the Netherlands or a rising Chile team will provide an immediate test after Group play. All could quickly become nothing. Uruguay, Italy and England are a strong three but only two will advance from Group D.

There is no easy path to becoming Champion of the World.

So this a challenge the United States should embrace. The USA is always talking about wanting to take a huge step up on the International soccer hierarchy and this is an opportunity to earn the world-wide respect it so desperately craves.

No excuses.

No shying away.

It's time for the USA to put on its big boy shorts and go make something positive happen.

I loved what USA national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN when asked if the United States relished the role of being an underdog.

"No," Klinsmann said. "We are no underdog. All of the 32 teams in the World Cup deserve to be here. There is no big nation that was let out this time.

"If you want to get into the Top 10 nations in the world, you eventually have to start beating those teams."

The goal remains the same – advance out of Group play and then make some magic happen.

There is opportunity here.

The opening match against Ghana on June 16 will be the key to everything.

The Black Stars have been a thorn in the USA side, winning what amounted to elimination matches at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

But Ghana is the type of nation the United States is trying to separate itself from. The USA is ranked 14th in the current FIFA/Coca Cola World Rankings. Ghana is 24th.

The United States will be a heavy underdog in its second match against second-ranked Germany. Klinsmann is bound to heavy emotions in that match as he won the 1990 World Cup as a player with West Germany and then managed unified Germany to a third place finish at the 2006 World Cup.

The USA beat a somewhat diminished Germany squad 4-3 in a friendly on June 2. Germany beat the USA 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea.

The reality is that the United States' knock-out stage fate could come down the final Group match against Portugal.

The Portuguese are ranked 5th and have arguably the world's best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. But Portugal has a shaky history in major tournaments.

Portugal finished fourth at the 2006 World Cup – losing to Klinsmann's Germany squad in the third place match but shockingly failed to move out of Group Play at the 2010 Cup in South Africa.

Ronaldo has scored just two World Cup goals.

At the 2002 World Cup, Portugal's "Golden Generation team" that was a title favorite opened Group play by losing to the United States 3-2. Portugal did not advance to the knockout stage.

"This is one of the more difficult groups in the whole competition," Klinsmann said. "But that's what a World Cup is about. We'll take it. We'll take the challenge."

That's the only way the United States should look at this 2014 World Cup Draw.

While the United States challenge is to advance out of Group play, host Brazil is expected to do nothing less than win an unprecedented sixth World Cup.

Brazil has a manageable Group A with Mexico, Cameroon and Croatia, but it is still all or nothing. After more than 60 years, the nation has yet to recover from the last time it hosted the World Cup in 1950 and loss the decisive match to Uruguay. It is a memory of national mourning.

Considering the recent social upheaval concerning the cost of hosting the Cup, anything less than the trophy will be a considered an unforgivable disaster.

Spain has won three straight major tournaments (Europe 2008, World Cup 2010, Europe 2012), but its path in Brazil is treacherous. The Dutch and Chile are highly capable of being the two representatives from Group B.

Headed by Lionel Messi, who is on the same level or slightly better than Ronaldo, Argentina is supremely talented and sits in a soft Group F with Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It would then have a knockout game with an opponent from a Group E – Switzerland, France, Ecuador and Honduras.

A two-time champion, Argentina should be in the quarterfinals before it receives a true test. "La Albiceleste" is set up nicely to win a Cup on the turf of its arch-rival in South America.

Belgium is talented but inexperienced. France is always an unpredictable wild card. Colombia is a sexy dark horse. Portugal has Ronaldo. England invented the game.

All could be "on any given day" long shots.

Still only eight nations [Brazil (5), Italy (4), Germany (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England, France and Spain]  have won World Cups. All will be in Brazil. and except for England (13th) and France (19th), all are ranked in the Top 10.

Unless the Netherlands can find a way to put it all together, the next winner will again be a former winner.

Given that European nations are 0-7 in World Cups held in the Americas and the enormous home-nation Brazil has, "A Selecao" is "the Selection" to be World Champions in 2014.