Former United States captain Claudio Reyna believes his nation can reach the last 16 of the World Cup for a second successive tournament.
Germany and Portugal, ranked second and fourth in the world, and 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana are also in Group G.
Reyna, who played in three World Cups, told BBC Sport: "I've got a feeling we can do well and get out of it.
"It will take some big performances. But qualifying for the knockout stage would be a huge success."
The USA, coached by former Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann, begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana in Natal on Monday.
And ex-Manchester City and Rangers midfielder Reyna, who was named in the 2002 World Cup team of the tournament, says Klinsmann's men should be better prepared than their rivals.
Almost half of their squad - including key players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley - play for Major League Soccer clubs, who only began their domestic season in March.
"Our players are going to be fresher because of where they are in their training and competition compared to the other teams," said the 40-year-old, who is now sporting director of New York City FC, the new MLS franchise affiliated to English Premier League champions Manchester City.
"Germany and Portugal's players, in particular, have played so many games, some are struggling with injuries and they have spent less time together as a team before the first game.
|United States's recent World Cup record|
|1994||Round of 16||4||1||1||2|
|2010||Round of 16||4||1||2||1|
"Another advantage that we have is our players have been together at least two weeks earlier than the other teams.
"So when you put those factors together, a lot of things can even out."
Reyna, who won 112 caps before retiring from international football after the 2006 World Cup, pointed to the USA's "strong spine" of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, ex-Roma midfielder Bradley and former Fulham and Tottenham forward Dempsey as another reason to be optimistic.
However, he said he was "shocked" by Klinsmann's decision to omit record goalscorer Landon Donovan from his final 23-man squad.
"Everybody was surprised by that, but now we move on. Everyone has got to get behind the players who are going," he added.
"The first game against Ghana is huge. If we get out of the blocks with a win that gives us a better chance of getting out of the group."