Midfielder Michael Bradley described the United States' World Cup Group G best.
"Group of Death," he said, referring to Germany, Portugal and Ghana.
And for good reason.
"When you look closer, four teams that in the last World Cup all got out of their group," he said. "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."
While it is a daunting task, there is an X factor in the USA mix. That's coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was hired to bring his expertise and experience to the team in crunch time and there's no greater crunch time than the World Cup.
Klinsmann has been there and done it as a player, winning the World Cup with West Germany (1990) and directing a young German team to a third-place finish (2006)
He knows what it takes. He must continue to convey his wisdom to the players through his positive energy and outlook.
"We're not underdogs," he said. "If you want to get into the top 10 or top 12 in the world, you have to start beating them."
In fact, the USA already has gotten some respect.
"The United States . . . has a selection of great players," Portugal striker Hugo Almeida said. "The last time we faced them was a bad result for us. We have to be very careful with them."
Each opponent presents its own unique challenges as the Americans will fly 9,000 miles for group matches.
Ghana, which plays the USA in Natal, Brazil June 16, eliminated the Americans the last two World Cups.
"It's crazy to think that you start a World Cup against the same team that you finished the last World Cup," Bradley said. "It's certainly a team that we know, a team that between their athleticism and individual talent and skill that so many of their players have, it's a very good team. We know what they're all about. It's a good way to start."
Portugal, the Americans' foe in Manaus June 22, boasts the outstanding Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2006 FIFA world player of the year who can change a game in an instant.
"Ronaldo is a phenomenal talent," defender DaMarcus Beasley said. "There's not a one-man-defending show to stop him. You're going to need the whole team basically."
And Germany, the second-ranked team in the world and the USA's opponent in Recife June 26. Klinsmann, who knows Germany inside and out, said to bring it on.
"We don't complain," he said. "We take it on. We do the traveling and we adjust to the climate. This is what a World Cup is about. It's about these challenges."