World Cup 2014

Players from USMNT, Ghana, Portugal, and Germany react to World Cup Draw

JeromeValckeFIFAWorldCupDraw1-USA (AP)


While fans and the coaching staffs of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are fretting at the difficult task ahead, many of the players likely to be involved have expressed excitement.

Ghanian and Schalke 04 midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng started the ball rolling right after the draw was completed by tweeting a picture of his brother, Jerome, and revealing his excitement to play Jerome and the German National Team.

In the coming hours, other reactions poured in from around the world from players such as Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Bendikt Höwedes, Asamoah Gyan, and even legends such as Luis Figo.

See what the players had to say after the jump:


Captain forward Asamoah Gyan – “Ghana’s group is the toughest. It is the group of death,” he told Accra-based Asempa FM Sports. “But we have a good team to compete with any team. There is no need to fear Germany or Portugal or even the USA. Ghanaians should relax, we’ll qualify from the group and make Ghana proud again.There is teamwork and coordination amongst us [Black Stars] so we’ll work hard and do well at the World Cup.”

Midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng – “It’s my dream,” Boateng told Sport Bild. “It is evident that wishes can still come true. I am looking forward to the duel and the next game against my brother at a World Cup. Even the game against my teammate Jermaine Jones is just great. ”


Midfielder Mesut Ozil – “We are going to Brazil with the aim of winning the tournament,” Ozil told the Guardian. “We will have to play some good teams anyway so if we play them early on or later, it doesn’t really matter. We have to beat them all.”

Midfielder Mario Götze – “Is a very interesting group that we want to survive, of course, successfully,” Götze told SportBild. “The anticipation of the World Cup in Brazil has increased with the draw once more.”

Defender Bendikt Höwedes – “It’s an interesting and evenly-matched group,” Howedes told the Bundesliga’s official website. “I think all four teams have a chance of going through. The clash with Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng is doing to be particularly special.”

Defender Marcel Schmelzer – “It’s an interesting group if you look at the teams we’ll be playing,” Schmelzer told the Bundesliga’s official website. “Every team is beatable, and it’s not the hardest group there.”


Former midfielder Luis Figo – “The strongest teams in the world are in this competition and it is always difficult to face our opponents. We already knew that we would be going in against theoretically stronger team, in this case Germany, but it is good to start against them,” Figo told Desporto. “Everybody knows the quality of the German team, but we have been happy in recent clashes and hopefully we can have another positive result.”

Forward Hugo Almeida – “It’s a difficult group, no doubt,” Almeida told Record. “There are three very strong teams and we start with one of the candidates for the title and which seeks a few years ago to be champion.It will not to be easy to pass this group. Playing against theoretically stronger team on the first day (Germany) has its advantages and disadvantages. It is a strong opponent, but if we win lifts our morale and if we lose, it’s a little bit lower.”

USMNT (Quotes from U.S. Soccer)

Goalkeeper Tim Howard – “I think it’s an extremely tough group, which we expected, but the fact that it’s tough does not mean that we can’t advance through the group. I think we can. We’ll have to play at our best but I think we can. I think the memory will still be very fresh of the loss (to Ghana) in the Round of 16 in 2010. I think that will help us more than it will them. We’re a much stronger team than we were, and they’ll know that going into the game. We’ll look to set that result right.”

Midfielder Michael Bradley – “Group of Death. When you look closer, four teams that in the last World Cup in 2010 all got out of their group. On our end, we know that we’re going to be tested at the highest level every minute of every game, but you don’t go to the World Cup expecting any easy games. On our end, now we’re excited to know who we play, when we play and where we play. We’ll use the time leading up to the World Cup to make sure we’re ready to go on June 16.”

Defender DaMarcus Beasley – “When we go to Russia, when we got to Austria, when we got Italy and we play those types of teams – Jurgen (Klinsmann) wants to throw us in the deep end and see how we do. Those types of games get us ready for the type of games we’re going to be playing in the World Cup. This team has a good mix of youth and experience, so we’re excited. The team that is selected to go to Brazil will do the job to try to get out of the group.”

Defender Steve Cherundolo – It is a very tough group with many familiar faces,” Cherundolo told German media. “We need three top performances to get ahead. I would be very happy to be there.”

Forward Clint Dempsey – “It’s going to be a difficult group, and there are a lot of other difficult groups as well. There’s excitement amongst our team because we have a good group of guys. And this is what the World Cup’s about, playing the best teams. The trick is to get off to a good start, try to get out of the group and then see what happens.”

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan – “It’s nice to hopefully get some revenge against Ghana. We play them in the first game, and in the last couple of World Cups they’ve been the team that knocked us out. So to get some revenge against them would be a nice start to the tournament. Then we play two very good European teams in Germany and Portugal. Playing against one of the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo is something that every player looks forward to.”

Midfielder Jermaine Jones – “That’s a tough group, where the pressure is situated on Portugal and Germany,” Jones told the DFB. “The fact that we play against Germany, is great, because that’s the country where I was born. On the game against Ghana with my friend Prince I also am very pleased.”

Forward Eddie Johnson – “The hard part is getting to the World Cup, and that’s something that we have done already. Once you qualify for the World Cup – and, we’re talking about the biggest sporting event in the world – I think it’s anyone’s opportunity to lift the trophy and be considered the best country in the world. Unfortunately we got some really good countries that have some unbelievable players and good experience. At the end of the day, you want to play against the best. We couldn’t have a better opportunity than to play against such amazing countries as Ghana, Portugal and Germany.”

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan – “It’s exciting. It’s going to be three tough games, but it’s the World Cup. It’s what you go through qualifying for and it’s what you work for. It’s the biggest tournament in the world, so to be able to represent your country at a World Cup regardless of who you play, it’s exciting. As players, when you see your country pulled into group it becomes all that more real and you can start slowly preparing for it.”

  • Kevin Prince Boateng

    “I am excited to play against my teammate Jermaine Jones. Playing with him every day, I have a good idea of his strengths and weaknesses, and also that he sucks.”


      • Ernest agyemang Botchway

        Ghana will beat the United States any givens day.don’t mess with that Ghanaian side,we will show up big time….


    • MLS_Soccer_Talker

      Ya clearly he sucks. Hes been getting by on sheer luck all these yrs in the bundesliga. Absurd -10000


      • Jones Fan-bois

        I don’t care if he can’t complete a pass, and has 10 turnovers per game— He playz in teh BUNDESLIGA!!1111111111111!!!!


    • Kingsly Alexander

      Pro Soccer, FIFA, and all governing bodies, are corrupt from top to bottom.

      Everything match we play has a major story line you can sell to the non-fan with the sole purpose of popularizing the sport in the US

      Everything you see is a lie


      • John

        No doubt, I even asked the other day if FIFA were going to fix it who would they put us in a group with. Just about everyone said Germany Ghana.


      • Kingsly Alexander

        And what are the odds of us getting out of the group?

        I 100% believe we’ll come out of this group in second.

        Football is a lie and I feel sorry for every single athlete who pours his heart and sole into his club and/or country but most of the flocks of loyal sheep known as fans.

        Professional athletics are nothing but another tool to distract those who choose to be blind.


      • joseph

        dude, what?
        clearly you need some psychological help, paranoia will destroy ya’, why are you even on this site if you hate sports so much …wow I’m always amazed how people love to hate
        GO USA!!!!!!!! KICK ASS OVER GHANA !!!


  • Roundhead

    Germany: three out of four quotes use the word “interesting” to describe the group. no point, just interesting. revenge time against Ghana. I wish we could play these African teams in friendlies.


    • usaalltheway

      Interesting is ALWAYS a synonym for a pejorative adjective, such as boring, uninteresting, “I couldn’t care less”, or some other politically incorrect thing that a professional athlete isn’t permitted to say to the press.

      Germany knows they are getting out of the group. The question is, through whom?


      • Landy Cakes

        Yeah interesting means “we’re Germany, these b1tches ain’t got sh1t on us”

        I hope Ghana looks past us thinking they have our number and we can sneak up on them.


      • KenC

        That’s true in the way Americans use “interesting”, but these are Germans. The question is how do they use the word. For many non-native speakers, a word like that may actually be a neutral placeholder to allow them to think of their answer.


      • usaalltheway

        Good points. I didn’t really think about that fact.

        That very well could be true.


      • Hogatroge

        I highly doubt Germany is afraid of us, but we hung 4 on their B-team. Even though it was the German reserves, essentially, you know they didn’t expect that, let alone a loss.


      • Futbol Realist

        For Lowe it wasn’t about winning, it was about seeing some of his other players that may go to Brazil. Yes, a win would have been nice, but it wasn’t the main point. Same as the U.S. reserves losing and tying their last 2 friendlies.


    • GW

      “I wish we could play these African teams in friendlies.”

      Why? They would not take it seriously and you wouldn’t get the top guys.

      Boateng shows up for Ghana only when the games start to matter. African teams generally don’t show well outside of Africa.


    • JoeW

      I think you need to take an english comments by a non-native english speaker with a grain of salt. Either they’re translated (and then it’s the skill of the translator) or the actual speaker in talking in his 3rd or 4th or 5th language. I know that when I speak Spanish, I over-rely on particular adjectives.

      Finally, in the USA, “interesting” is a pejorative word. You know, the Church Lady on SNL and comments at an art gallery when you don’t know what else to say. But that doesn’t mean that is how the word “interesting” is used in Europe.


      • Matty

        Good point, except Europeans aren’t from mars and tend to use interesting more or less the same way. To avoid saying good, bad, suck, easy or other such more committed words.


  • Good Jeremy

    I’m not as worried as I should be. We tend to play up, or down, to our competition and I think that if we beat Ghana that we can pull off a tie against either Germany or Portugal and make it through to the next round. People will tell me I know nothing about soccer for saying this and will go on a rant about our terrible development system, but I think it gives us an advantage and is a great equalizer for us. Our players from club to college to playing young in MLS are required to compete and win at every level while others are playing in academies or U-21 club teams. We often value winning over technical skill. It doesn’t develop our players who typically weren’t athletic enough for football, baseball, or basketball the way that Spain or much of the word develops their players that dream of nothing besides soccer, but it gives us cut-throat players who are used to winning and are as competitive as anyone else in the world, underdog or not.

    Because of that we do pretty well against big boys in the world cup. South Korea wasn’t exactly a big boy, but we tied them and the refs in South Korea in a year they reached the semifinals, we beat Portugal, we beat a better Mexican team, outplayed but lost to Germany and the refs, then the next cycle we tied Italy and the refs, then last cycle we tied England and won our group. Ghana isn’t elite, but with the last two world cups we should be up for that game just as much we would be against anyone else.


  • alf

    I think it is a very interesting group. I believe we Germans will drive our tiger tanks all over them.


  • GW

    Mr. Good,

    So you are saying Americans know more about winning soccer games than the Germans, Ghanians and Portuguese?

    Is this because American teams have won so many more soccer games than those countries have?



    • Good Jeremy

      I think our competitive nature and the fact that our players have been in constant competition since they turned 12 instead of 21 when they hit the senior teams like most everywhere else can be a great equalizer. The academy games are meaningless because they focus solely on player development and not winning. I like your sarcasm, but would you care to explain to me our quality against Portugal, Korea, Mexico, and Germany in 2002, Italy in 2006, Spain and Brazil in Conf. Cup 2009, Mexico in every HEX over the last decade and 2/3 of the A team Gold Cups, and England in 2010 when our rosters were filled with players who *might* make the bench for most of those teams? We significantly overachieve in almost every tournament we take part in. Compare that with Portugal, who except for a finishing second in a Euro final on home soil have generally underachieved in major tournaments; and Ghana, who can’t get the same results as Nigeria, Egypt, Zambia, Cameroon, or Tunisia in the African Cup of Nations. Germany is a juggernaut. I’d love to hear your theories on why we overachieve that way.


      • Johan Peeters

        Ghana knocked the US out of two consecutive WC’s. Who cares about Confederation Cups and group games against teams that already qualified?


      • GW

        “Good Jeremy says:

        “I think our competitive nature and the fact that our players have been in constant competition since they turned 12 instead of 21 when they hit the senior teams like most everywhere else can be a great equalizer. The academy games are meaningless because they focus solely on player development and not winning.”

        You think American players have more motivation than their foreign counterparts? How’s about escaping from dire poverty for a great motivator? This business about the US having superior competitive nature is the same biologically processed left over food that we hear about how the English have greater “fighting spirit”. You can see how far it has taken that bunch of weakly motivated types.

        “would you care to explain to me our quality against Portugal, Korea, Mexico, and Germany in 2002, Italy in 2006, Spain and Brazil in Conf. Cup 2009, Mexico in every HEX over the last decade and 2/3 of the A team Gold Cups, and England in 2010 when our rosters were filled with players who *might* make the bench for most of those teams? ”

        No. That is ancient history and is irrelevant because most of those players have nothing to do with this WC.

        “We significantly overachieve in almost every tournament we take part in.”

        That’s dog biological waste. The US should be in the final of every CONCACAF related tournament. Winning Gold Cups for example, should be SOP. Losing to Costa Rica and Honduras was a disgrace.

        In the World Cups, the only serious tournament the USMNT participates in, they generally finish just about where they should.

        “Compare that with Portugal, who except for a finishing second in a Euro final on home soil have generally underachieved in major tournaments;”

        That’s debatable as well. Portugal’s finish in the Euros was quite an achievement. In comparison, the US did not finish second in the 1994 WC held on their home turf did they?

        “I’d love to hear your theories on why we overachieve that way.”

        The US does not overachieve. They do better than the public thinks they should but the public generally underrates how good the players are and the team really is.

        The US has quite a number of talented players. Donovan went over to Everton and did very well against big teams. Espinoza ( a US citizen and developed by the same college system and the like that a lot of US players went through) went to Wigan and did very well in the EPL. Cameron went over did well. Holden went over and was dominant. There were failures like George John, Freddy Adu and the like but that is to be expected. The point is there is plenty of evidence that MLS has produced a core of very talented US eligible players.

        Portugal, Germany and Ghana, however, have a greater number of talented players than the US does.

        This is primarily due to the fact that their players, for a variety of reasons, have better access to a higher level of training and then competition, than US players generally do.

        Good coaching, good organization, discipline, fitness and so on can make up for the gap but not entirely.

        As you might have surmised from listening to JK go on and on about it that gap is mostly in attitude and personality. You might have noticed that JK is less concerned about tactics and more concerned about the team’s attitude, their chemistry, their willingness to fight for each other and for the common cause.

        JK played on three World cup teams. His first one, the 1990 team won it all. The next two, 1994 and 1998, fell short. He has spoken often about how he felt those teams should have gone further and even won the Cup if not for chemistry issues, not talent deficiencies.

        So it should be no surprise to anyone that he is focusing mostly on building the team chemistry. Which tells you that he believes the talent level of the present group is about is good as it is going to get, with possible exceptions for the late inclusion of guys like Dolo, or Chandler or less likely medical miracles like Gatt or Holden.

        Should the US get out of this Group that would be a major achievement. JK could do a superior coaching job to the job BB did and still might not get better results than BB did. That’s because the opposition keeps getting better and better. If you took JK’s best team to the 2010 WC I’ll bet they would have won all three group games and beat Ghana.


  • M

    If Germany players really believe they have an interesting draw, then they will probably find the remainder of the tournament interesting as they watch it on TV. They are good no doubt, but not good enough to be only interesting.


      • M

        This German 2014 team has won nothing same as us, but I get what you are trying to say. I mean no team has ever loss because of over confidence, right?


      • AlexH

        I think the Germans are going to have a tough time because a) it’s a tough group for anybody and b) the games or on the equator, require lots of travel and they are the team that is least prepared for it. I still think they will top the group but there is always a big name team that fails epic-ally in the group stage and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was them


  • torreador

    somewhere on a Mediterranean beach, a phone rings. Mission Impossible theme music is playing in the background…

    “Cristiano, you’ve done well so far in your career but your largest challenge remains. The USA stands in the way of Portugal’s advancement at the World Cup. Your country’s hopes and dreams rest on your shoulders.”

    “Got it, coach, who should I prepare to face?”

    “well, there’s Brad Evans from MLS”
    “MLS, yes, a nice league I play in exhibitions in between conceiving children, yes, they play hard. Which team does he play RB for?”
    “he doesn’t , he plays central midfield”
    “OK, really, come on, whom am I up against?
    “well, there’s Eric Lichaj who plays in England”
    “ahh, EPL, now that’s a tough league”
    “no, he actually plays in the Championship”
    “come on coach, who is my true opponent?”
    Well, Parkhurst plays in the Bundesliga”
    “OK, now that’s a very good league..”
    “but he actually never sees the field”
    “anyone else?”
    “yes, there’s the guy who’s afraid to fly from Germany and a 35-year old who hasn’t played in eight months”
    Cristiano laughs, “good one coach, you almost got me. So, a minimum of 2 goals from me against the USA, yes?”


    • Good Jeremy

      He’s only one player. Granted, their other 10 players could wipe the floor with our team too, but he is still only one player. If he had a virtuoso performance like he did against Sweden in every game then Real Madrid wouldn’t finish second to Barcelona in everything, they wouldn’t have gotten smooshed in the Champions League, and Portugal wouldn’t have needed a playoff to get to the World Cup. My guess is that we put FJ on him and then a winger that tracks back well in front of FJ and hope that our winger has enough endurance to get forward from time to time.


    • John

      Not that the right back for Stoke City would worry Cristiano but I think its pretty clear Cameron will be the right back next summer.


      • Good Jeremy

        I dunno. Against Germany and Ghana I think so, but they aren’t nearly as dependent on one person. I could see him being moved into center on the right with Fabian next to him at fullback and Donovan on that wing to put all of our speed and talent on that side of the field for that game. If Chandler pulls his head out of his butt and the rest of the team accepts him then I could see him take FJ’s place there, but I hope we see Cameron instead of Gonzo in that game.


    • Bruce

      we have heard this one before: Figo was going to kill us. Valderrama was going to kill us. Borghetti was going to kill us.
      CR is a great player but it is 11 vs 11. Portugal, even with CR, had to go to a playoff to qualify. I am not scared.


  • Paula

    The USMNT have given memorable performances at recent major tourneys when no one rated them going into the match:

    2002 Portugal
    2006 Italy
    2009 Spain

    Their entire group stage is basically this set up. It could turn into 2006 redux, then again maybe not.

    Everyone waxes happy about 2010, but they were favorites in 3 of those matches and look how much they struggled. Also in the Hex, where they struggled against teams they were supposed to beat easily.

    So, god forbid anyone agree with Alexi Lalas, but being underdogs is some kind of psychological 12th man with this team. They may not get out of the group. But even hard-fought, respectable draws with teams like Germany and Portugal can make an impact on how this team is perceived after they leave. (Full disclosure: Kaiserslautern cemented me as a fan, so maybe I count on this too much.)

    We need to beat Ghana, though. Regardless of anything else.


  • Sessi

    Love it when people write what they think by closing their eyes n wishing for the win for their country especially the US.But 1 thing for sure don’t under estimate us like last game becos we showing up big time….Ghana


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