Two days ahead of the World Cup draw, the United States and Mexico learned they would not be seeded and placed in Pot One. Also surprisingly, given the established formulas for previous seeding, Holland was placed in Pot One, instead of France. MLS Talk Reader Phillip, whose understanding of world football is among the best points out to us that FIFA dumped the existing formula and used the Oct 09’ World Rankings so the Dutch would be seeded instead of France. Had the current rankings been used, France would have been rated ahead of England, potentially causing greater furor in the English speaking world, which is already in a tizzy about Thierry Henry’s handball.
The CONCACAF trio of Mexico, Honduras and the United States will be placed in a pot with Oceania and Asia. Africa’s non seeded teams will be placed in a pot with South America’s non seeded teams.
So what we do know is that the US nor Mexico will not be able to face the two really weak sides in this competition: New Zealand and North Korea. Perhaps, given the political implications of a matchup between the US and North Korea it is for the best. We don’t want a 1998 like draw with Iran, whom the US hasn’t had diplomatic relations with since 1979 or Yugoslavia (Serbia) under Slobodan Milosevic who less than a year later the US and NATO were at war with. So perhaps, avoiding North Korea is a good thing.
Obviously, many fans want to see the US placed in a group with South Africa. Be careful what you wish for, I believe. Playing a home standing side in a World Cup, especially a symbolic one like 2010 will be is never fun. Besides, a group with South Africa must also include a South American team based on the process of the draw.
A preferred group for the US would look something like this:
This is a group with the right breaks that the US could actually win.
A group of death would look like this:
This group could make the 2006 USA group look like child’s play.
Another tough group, but not quite group of death could look like this:
This group would have some possibilities for the US to get out since it would be relatively balanced. Still a last place finish would be distinctly possible.
A middle of the road group would look like this:
Again, the US could finish as high as second or as low as last in this group.
A best case scenario group from where I sit (in which Argentina is not involved) would be to be in a group with Brazil and several weak teams. Brazil takes the maximum six points from the first two matches, inflicting a heavy goal difference, and US plays Brazil in the last match of the group and gets a draw. Even if the US is forced to play the Brazilians earlier in the group, if Brazil takes the maximum nine points, possibilities open up for the US to advance on four points or even just three points.
Here is such a group that would favor the US:
In this group the US would likely have to beat Algeria decisively and draw Switzerland to advance. In the annals of World Cups that’s doing relatively little for a big prize.
What are our readers thoughts on the World Cup draw?