United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann described his team's World Cup draw as "the worst of the worst" after it was pooled with Germany, Portugal and Ghana in one of two "Groups of Death."
Klinsmann could scarcely believe his ill fortune after the draw was made in Bahia, Brazil, with the Americans lumped into Group G and a situation that immediately installed them as long shots to reach the last 16.
To add to his discomfort, Klinsmann's side also will have to battle a grueling travel schedule, including a visit to the Amazonian jungle city of Manaus with its extreme humidity and hostile weather environment.
"It is one of the most difficult groups of the whole draw," Klinsmann said. "It couldn't get any more difficult or any bigger but that is what the World Cup is all about.
"We are looking forward to the challenge and we don't see ourselves as any kind of outsiders. If you want to get into the top 10 or 12 teams in the world you have to beat these guys.
"We discussed before the draw that there could be some difficult schedules and we hit the worst of the worst. Every coach said, 'Anything but Manaus' and we got Manaus."
Germany is one of the strongest teams in the tournament and reached the semifinal in 2010, while Portugal will be led by Cristiano Ronaldo, currently the world's best and most dominant player.
Supposedly the weakest opponent, Ghana, eliminated the U.S. at the round of 16 stage four years ago. The Ghanaians also ended the Americans' 2006 World Cup with a victory in the teams' final group game.
"After two losses, it's about time to beat them, I guess," Klinsmann said.
The Ghana matchup will be the first for the U.S. and is scheduled for Natal on June 16. Portugal follows in Manaus six days later before group action ends against Germany in Recife on June 26.
"I kind of had a feeling in my stomach that we were going to get Germany," said Klinsmann, who starred for the West Germany national team as it won the 1990 World Cup and later led the German side to the 2006 semifinals on home soil.
The "other" Group of Death is Group B where 2010 finalists Spain and the Netherlands square off in the opening match. Host nation Brazil kicks off the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12.