Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Group of Death

While the USMNT is ranked 8th in the world by FIFA, no one seriously believes that the US is the 8th best soccer team in world, so their not being one of the eight seeded teams for Friday's World Cup group draw is neither unfair or surprising. Still, gaining a seed would probably have spared the US what most likely will be a brutal draw. Here are the pots, with the seeded teams in Pot One:

Pot One: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain
Pot Two: Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador, Paraguay
Pot Three: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
Pot Four: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, United States
Special Pot: Serbia & Montenegro

The US cannot draw Mexico (same region). If the US draws either Argentina or Brazil, they will not draw either Ecuador or Paraguay (since they couldn't be drawn with either Argentina or Brazil). This is double-edged: other than host Germany, Argentina and Brazil are clearly the best two teams of the seeded. The question becomes, is it better to draw Argentina or Brazil and one of the African minnows (or Australia) or draw England, France, Italy, Spain, or (worse case) Germany and maybe get stuck with Ecuador or Paraguay?

Who the USMNT gets pulled with from Pot Three, though, will determine whether they get through group play. The Dutch, though traditionally chokers, are as physically skilled as any team not Brazilian. The Portugese would like nothing better than to play the team that stunned them in the first game of the opening round in 2002 (and cost them advancement). Poland beat the US in 2002, decisively, in a game the USMNT thought they had to win (and if South Korea hadn't tied Portugal the Americans wouldn't have advanced). The Swedes, the Czechs, the Croatians, all would be difficult. The Swiss and Ukrainians wouldn't be easy.

Worse case scenario? Germany, Holland, Paraguay. Best case scenario? Spain, Angola, Ukraine.


Anonymous Aston Villan said...

You should hope the Americans draw England - they'll never win as long as Sven's the manager.

And minnow's? There's always an African side that surprises.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous blackdogred said...

All the African teams are first-timers, but they did beat out the traditional African powers in qualifying (Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa) so who knows. They might catch someone napping, maybe in first round. I wonder how many friendlies they'll schedule in Europe during run-up - they ought to schedule as many as they can.

African teams will be interesting to watch in 2010 when WC is in South Africa.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Karl said...

England and Italy and crash in group. Watch! Mmwhahahahah!

12:46 PM  

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