USA against the world: still not a fair fight

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Given its pot placement, the U.S. Men's National Team appears headed for a very tough group assignment in the World Cup draw. This is unfair, but let's remember who we are here.

The group draws for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil won't happen until Friday, and the announcement of the pots -- the pools from which those groups will be pulled -- was honestly pretty rote stuff. Each pot was, as expected, filled with teams from various designated regions, and the groups will be filled with teams from those pots, give or take one of the European teams in Group 4 that will be pulled from Pot 2 because... you know what, forget the bureaucratic details.

Forget it, and let's get to what's important: the United States may well wind up in a very difficult group, both because of its pot placement and because of that wild card European team slotted into Pot 2. There is a chance that the US could wind up in a group with, say, Brazil and Italy and the Netherlands. People -- non-patriots, whiners, soccer fans, and various other such types -- are upset about this.

Of course they are. These are people who live to be upset about these sorts of "injustices." They will be upset about the United States possibly winding up in a Group of Death that could actually cause -- if not physical death -- some sort of severe humiliation-related injury to a US Men's National Team that's otherwise on the rise. But these nervous nellie types would be upset no matter what. They will say that we can't win in a group like that, and they'll be right. But they will also be missing the broader point, which is that this is the U.F'ing.S. we're talking about.

Certainly it is somewhat unfair that nations not nearly as excellent as the United States in the areas that matter -- quantity and intensity of aggrieved billionaires; foods served in "fountain" format; bad vibe-y Twitter hoaxes and deep-thought essays about same; shopping-related fistfights occurring on holidays -- are allowed to play soccer against the United States. And certainly there is a chance that placement in such a Group of Death will send the USMNT home earlier from the World Cup than they otherwise might. Let's allow that all this might be something to get upset about.

But let's also remember that we're the nation that defeated childhood poverty and global warming, the nation that gave the world the Transformers film franchise, the indispensable and essential nation. Things are not and never have been given to us; we make our own destiny, we seize even the slimmest opportunities and give those opportunities stern but loving lectures about the importance of self-reliance. We encourage those opportunities to improve themselves, maybe take classes towards a Medical Assistant degree. We subject those opportunities to random testing for recreational drugs, because it's important to both trust and verify. This is what we do. And it's why I, and you, should only say "bring it on" to the prospect of an assignment to some horrifying Group of Death in the World Cup. We've got this.

That's a different thing than saying the U.S. men could win their way out of that pool, I hasten to add. But neither is it anything we can't handle. The world, and the World Cup, demands much from us, now as ever. And, again and again, we give it to the world. "We need a popular musician who aspires, on alternating days, to being either Karl Lagerfeld or a Corbusier lamp," the world cries, and we give them Kanye. "Oh no," the world gripes impotently, "there is nothing inside the crust of this pizza." And we inject some utility-grade mozzarella into that crust for them with a horrifying dairy syringe, and then deliver it with a two-liter of Pepsi for no added charge. No one even asked us for VH1's "Mob Wives," and we made it anyway. As one of the strongest teams in Pot 3, much will be asked of the U.S., and quite possibly very little opportunity will be given. This is nothing new.

The challenge, as ever, is not just to win -- which is good, actually, because the U.S. isn't winning its way out of a group with the likes of Brazil and Portugal and Italy in it -- but to do what we do best. Are we just going to sit back and complain about it? No, of course not. We are going to stand up when we complain. It will be beautiful. It will be us. And it will be the envy of the rest of the world, again, as ever.

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