U.S. national team forward Clint Dempsey is ready to take on the 'Group of Death' in this summer's World Cup in Brazil - although it won't be an easy task.
After watching the U.S. get grouped with Germany, Portugal and Ghana during the draw in December, Dempsey's reaction was much like most Americans. "My initial thought was like what you said: It was 'Wow,'" Dempsey said in an interview with SN's Mike DeCourcy.
"But at the same time, when you’re playing in the World Cup, you’re playing against the best teams in the world. If you want to go far in that competition, you’re going to have to play against good teams."
Germany is the second-ranked team in the world, while Portugal features one of the world's top players in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana has defeated the U.S. in the last two World Cups. It will be difficult for the U.S. to get out of Group G, but Dempsey believes the team has the talent to advance.
"It’s exciting. You get an opportunity to play against Germany, Portugal and play against Ghana again. We’re looking forward to the challenge," he said. "We’re coming off one of our most successful seasons, 2013, and hopefully we can carry that forward in 2014. I think if we play our best ball we have the quality that we can get out of the group."
Dempsey was named the U.S. team's captain last year while he was a starter for Tottenham. He moved to the Seattle Sounders during summer and is currently on loan at Fulham. Perhaps the best player in U.S. soccer history, the 30-year-old is set to play in his third World Cup.
While Dempsey has always accepted the opportunity to represent his country in major competitions, the United States' neighbors to the south have watched their star, Carlos Vela, turn down the team over and over again since 2011. Dempsey says Vela should do whatever is best for him.
"I think everybody has to do what they feel is right for them, whatever that is," Dempsey said of the Vela drama. "It’s not for me to say."
In fact, Dempey doesn't care much for what is going on with the Mexican national team, which needed to defeat New Zealand in a playoff to earn a World Cup spot. El Tri is in Group A along with host Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.
"I think they’ve got a difficult group also, but I’m not really focused on them," Dempsey said. "I’m just focused on us and our group and trying to make sure we take care of business. I’m only worrying about the things I can control, and that’s if we work hard, if I work hard, make sure I’m prepared come the World Cup."