COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- The United States will play Ghana, Portugal and Germany in a tough first-round group at next year's World Cup that will take them on a lengthy 9,000-mile trip around Brazil.
Making their seventh straight appearance at soccer's showcase, the Americans were drawn Friday into Group G and will open on June 16 in Natal against Ghana, which eliminated the Americans at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments
The U.S. meets Portugal and 2008 FIFA Player of the Year Cristian Ronaldo on June 22 in the Amazon rain forest city Manaus. The Americans close group play on June 26 in Recife against Germany, which beat the U.S. in the 2002 quarterfinal.
"Difficult draw, but a group the U.S. can get through if they play well," former U.S. coach Bruce Arena told The Associated Press.
The United States, ranked 14th in the world, has alternated quick exits with advancement since returning to soccer's showcase in 1990.
Second-ranked Germany and fifth-ranked Portugal are the favorites to advance to the second round. The U.S. will feel pressure to open with a win against Ghana, which is ranked 24th. At the 2002 tournament, the U.S. opened with a 3-2 upset of Portugal.
Earthquakes centerback Clarence Goodson, a strong candidate to make the U.S. team, expects Group G to be competitive and entertaining.
"You have four teams in there that all expect to advance," he said on the Quakes' website. "These are teams that have done well in past tournaments, teams that are very strong in their regions and have some world-class players."
Goodson, who has 44 appearances with the U.S. national team and played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, isn't worried about the Americans' travel during round robin play. The United States will log about 8,000 miles in 11 days.
"It's something that we'll deal with," said Goodson, who joined the Quakes in August. "We'll do everything we can to give ourselves the best chance to advance."
Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski, who also is hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. roster, could not be reached Friday.
Goodson also likes the chances of his Quakes teammates Victor Bernardez and Marvin Chavez, who play for Honduras. The Hondurans, who finished third to the United States and Costa Rica in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, got a big break by landing in weak Group E with Switzerland, Ecuador and France.
"Honestly, the toughest teams in that group are France and Ecuador," Goodson said. "I don't think Switzerland will get out of that group, so that means Honduras has to beat one of those other teams and take care of business against Switzerland."
Honduras, which features Earthquakes stars Victor Bernardez and Marvin Chavez, got a big break by landing in weak Group E with Switzerland, Ecuador and France. The Hondurans finished third to the United States and Costa Rica in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Iran, with San Jose fullback Steven Beitashour, is in tough Group F with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria. Besitashour, 26, has played with the Earthquakes since 2010 but is not signed for next season.
Staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this report.