Friday, December 4, 2009

World Cup Draw Today

Despite adopting Spain in the last Euro Cup, and vaguely following the Confederations Cup this summer, I can't be considered more than an extremely casual soccer fan... I basically just get really excited about the World Cup every 4 years and then mostly forget about the sport in the intervening years. So anyway... you'll find no deep insights here... but here's a pretty good link to explain how screwed the US is in the draw today, and how extraordinarily lucky we would have to be to avoid being in a "Group of Death". The groups will be picked randomly from these four pots:
Pot 1: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England

Pot 2: Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, USA, New Zealand

Pot 3: Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay

Pot 4: Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland

So getting put in with the Asian teams means we won't get to play them in the group stage, and being that they're weaker than Concacaf that pretty much sucks. I guess if I was going to imagine a nightmare draw, it would be: Brazil, USA, Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire, and France/Portugal. Obviously any team from Pot 1 (except South Africa) is going to be bad news for the US, so the real key is to avoid France or Portugal from Pot 4, as well as the better African teams like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in Pot 3. An important thing to note, is that getting a team like Brazil isn't necessarily the end of the world... as long as you think your team can beat out the other 3 teams for the last spot from your group in the Round of 16... that's why avoiding traditional powers that are on a bad run (France/Portugal) is so important to the chances of the US making a decent showing.

I don't really know enough about the remaining unseeded European teams to guess which of them would provide the easiest draw for the US... but if we get South Africa and avoid France/Portugal, I'll gladly take our chances with the rest.

EDIT: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia... could have been a lot worse. Honestly, that's pretty good... not as good as Mexico's draw, but definitely not as bad as Group G: Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, and Portugal all beating the snot out of the DPRK.

picture of proud South African Charlize Theron by flickr user SpreePiX - Berlin used under a Creative Commons license