Drawn in the tournament’s designated 'Group of Death' with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the USA were always going to face a struggle at the World Cup.
That said, Jurgen Klinsmann’s approach in the build-up to Brazil has not exactly inspired confidence that the team can beat the odds and make it to last 16.
The hugely controversial omission of American football legend Landon Donovan from the final 23, coupled with the inclusion of young and inexperienced players Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin and John Anthony Brooks, has led many to claim that Klinsmann is building his side with an eye for 2018 rather than success now.
Furthermore, the German manager has seemingly shorthanded his squad by leaving out versatile options Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans and Maurice Edu, as well as proven players Clarence Goodson and Eddie Johnson, who performed whenever called upon in qualifying.
It’s not simply Klinsmann’s squad selection which has come under scrutiny, though, but also his tactics. The USA have lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond over the past few games which, with less than stellar reviews, is unlikely to lead to success this summer.
In fact, it could very well end up being a disaster against the superior opposition in the group. With the full-backs bombing forward, leaving gaping holes for the wide midfielders and lone defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones to cover, it’s easy to envisage the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thomas Müller and Asamoah Gyan tearing apart the already questionable American defence on the counter-attack.
The formation is also unlikely to get the best out of wide players Graham Zusi, Brad Davis and Alejandro Bedoya, who, tasked with more defensive responsibilities, will see their creative opportunities largely diminished.
With Jozy Altidore having failed to score since December last year and a centre-back pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron matching up poorly against the group’s strike-forces, fans will have to hope that Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are at the absolute top of their game.
Either way, all the signs point towards a short World Cup campaign for the USA and, although Klinsmann was recently rewarded with a new contract until 2018, there will surely be calls for his head should the team flop dramatically in Brazil.