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Sports

December 7, 2013

US to play Ghana, Portugal, Germany at World Cup

(Continued)

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who replaced Bob Bradley 2½ years ago, played for Germany’s 1990 World Cup championship team and coached his native country to third place at home in the 2006 tournament, commuting to Europe from his California house in Orange County.

“It couldn’t get any more difficult or any bigger,” he said at the draw in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil. “It’s a real challenge. And we’ll take it. We’ll take it on, and hopefully we’re going to surprise some people there.”

The U.S. and South Korea were the last remaining teams in draw pot three. While the Americans landed in a group with an average FIFA ranking of 11.25, South Korea wound up in Group H, creating a group with the poorest average at 28.25.

“I think the team’s mentality is that we can go and play with anybody,” American defender Matt Besler said. “Now we’re going to have to prove it.”

Germany beat the U.S. 2-0 in its 1998 World Cup opener in Paris — with Klinsmann setting up the first goal and scoring the second — then edged the Americans 1-0 on a controversial goal in the 2002 quarterfinal in South Korea.

Die Mannschaft is coached by Klinsmann’s former assistant, Joachim Loew. The Americans beat a second-tier German roster 4-3 in a June exhibition at Washington.

“With Jurgen Klinsmann, they have another mentality,” Loew said. “I learned a lot from Jurgen, so this is special.”

Ranked 14th in the world, the U.S. has alternated quick exits with advancement since returning to soccer’s showcase in 1990.

After the draw four years ago, one British paper used a headline “EASY” for England, Algeria, Slovenia and the Yanks, and The Sun called it the “best English group since the Beatles.” The Americans wound up atop a group for the first time, and England advanced as the second-place nation.

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