A closer look at the World Cup draw possibilities for the USMNT

USA Starting 11


With FIFA announcing the set-up of the World Cup draw pots on Tuesday, we now have a much better idea exactly what sort of draws the U.S. Men’s National Team could face on Friday.

There weren’t any real surprises among the pots, save for the creation of a Pot X, which will separate the seeded South American teams in order to ensure they aren’t drawn against the other South American teams in Pot 2 (and ensuring the lone European team in Pot 2 doesn’t get drawn into a group with two other European teams). We also learned that one of the nine unseeded European teams, all currently in Pot 4, will be moved over to Pot 2.

What you really care about, as an SBI reader, is just what does it all mean for the USMNT? The pots don’t paint a pretty picture for what the Americans will face. A brutal draw isn’t inevitable, but is very likely given how many tough teams are in the World Cup field.

My latest Goal.com column takes a closer look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios the USMNT will face in each of the three pots American opponents will be drawn from. I also point out opponents that could offer up the best storylines, as well as draws that might be better than you think.

Give the piece a read and let us know what you think of the possibilities. Which group do you consider worse, a Brazil-Netherlands-Italy trio, or a Germany-Ghana-Portugal trio? Still holding out hope that the Americans can get really lucky and pull a manageable draw?

Share your thoughts below.

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45 Responses to A closer look at the World Cup draw possibilities for the USMNT

  1. So…. you want us to go look at another website to read your article?


    • Postmaster says:

      Come on Bilbo. Time you left the Shire and had an adventure.

      If it’s worth coming here, it’s worth a click to see Ives’ fine work on goal.com.

    • Matt says:

      Lame, really?

      Ives is probably getting paid for the Goal.com column. Hard to begrudge him that.

      • Rory Miller says:

        One does not simply click over to Goal.com.

      • bodeguero says:

        Think of it this way: if Ives doesn’t get paid gigs, he’s more likely to hang in a brutal profession. Do you *want* quality writing about soccer? If the answer is yes, then stop bitching, click on the article, and link it on all relevant social media.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Certainly took longer to post that lame comment than it would have to click on Ives’ article.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      to provide some balance, i’m in agreement with mr. baggins.

      in the grand scheme of things, is this a problem? no, of course not.

      it is a bait-and-switch, though. you go to SBI, click on the post that promises “a closer look at world cup draw possibilities”, only to get a blurb asking you to click on another link that will give you what you want.

      like i said, it’s not a big problem. it’s one more click, and i’m sure the writing’s just as good there as it would be here.

      it’s still lame, though.

      • AcidBurn says:

        It’s simple. Ives gets a ton of traffic on his SBI site (as it should as SBI has been the best site for US Soccer for years).

        Now Ives writes (and gets paid $$$) for goal. More readers of his columns = more $$$ for Ives. One way to get more readers is to cross-promote his article on a site that already gets tons of traffic: SBI.

        Come on, it’s an additional 3 seconds of your life to click on the link.
        After all the work that Ives has put in he deserves to get paid.

        • RP says:

          Agreed. Its actually good for all of us if its determined the readers at SBI have value. Which is exactly what this arrangement means.

        • Agreed it’s not a huge deal. It does feel a bit spammy though. I’d love to read Ives articles on goal.com but he could sidebar them instead of disguising them as sbi articles.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          yeah, i get why he does it. and, as i said above, i don’t think it’s a big deal. i just agree that it is, as bilbo says, ‘lame’.

    • Ian says:

      I like that there’s a sudden influx of SBI readers on the Goal.com comments section. Anyone else noticed a slight increase in the level of civility, at least where Ives’ articles are concerned?

    • Yusef says:

      I’m actually happy for the link. His postings on SBI have dropped and I keep hearing about the goal.com articles on the podcast after the fact. Was hoping he would put in leads to the goal.com articles on SBI so I can easily access them.

  2. Nate Dollars says:

    what the hell, jermaine? everyone else looks fine; gonzo brings the smile, fabian brings the smoulder, you bring the…fat suit?

    • HoboMike says:


    • Brain Guy says:

      These photos continue to entertain. Isn’t there — wasn’t there — some customary posture for the guys in the front row, e.g., a full catcher-style crouch? If they can’t do that, how about everyone on one knee? Instead, it generally looks like every player in the front row is trying to adopt a unique position. Here the result is sort of an upward-sloping trend line from left to right. Each photo is a candidate for “You Write the Caption.” My entry: “Jermaine Jones’s pre-game burp routine is beginning to wear a bit thin.”

  3. HoboMike says:

    We can also look at it this way – how many teams in the other three Pots are hoping that they don’t draw the US?

    Essentially, we will determine the strength of any group that we are drawn into.

    • Dimidri says:


      Think about it this way-Slovakia, Slovenia, New Zealand, South Africa and North Korea all graced the last World Cup. I think you could argue that every single confederation sent its best teams this time around (plus Brazil hosting meant S.A. got another spot). There are two seeded teams who have a decent chance at winning who did not even qualify last time (Colombia and Belgium).

      This is what people didn’t understand on the South Korea friendly thread-yes, in a vacuum they are a reasonable round of 16 team, but at this World Cup they are clearly a bottom fifth team despite being pretty good.

  4. Thisten says:

    Ives: “Unfortunately for the Americans, the odds of being dropped into a truly weak group are pretty bad. Throw in the fact the U.S. received a reasonable draw four years ago, and it becomes even tougher to see the Americans get lucky yet again.”

    I agree with his first sentence and agree that, in general, it will be “tougher to see the Americans get lucky again,” but what impact does the “reasonable” draw four years ago have on the draw this year? How does the draw from four years ago make it even tougher this year? Is he suggesting that the draw might be rigged to give us a tougher draw this time around since we got a reasonable draw last time?

    • Brain Guy says:

      Good point. The 2010 draw and the 2014 draw are, statistically speaking, completely independent. But FIFA’s reputation naturally leads us all to think the ping-pong balls are not completely fair. How about an informal poll: do you think the WC draw is (a) fair and legitimate, (2) rigged in some way to favor some teams and harm others, or (3) rigged to get attractive match-ups in the first-round groups?


      • Increase says:

        3 but attractive is to get certain teams into knock outs. Its the pots but even then I think they rig it a bit more like the weird predraw. And then prolly a bit more on top of that.

      • JC says:

        3) Can’t imagine FIFA not doing some manipulation to try to get ideal match-ups in the TV time slots and stadiums that make the most $en$e.

    • Mike Caramba says:

      Same thought here.

    • Paul Miller says:

      It takes a fair amount of perceived entitlement to equate lucky with reasonable.

      We were lucky four years ago. We got one of the weaker seeded teams and then a couple, well, not terrible teams but certainly bottom-half sides out of the 32. So if we don’t get that lucky again, that would become an ‘unreasonable’ situation?

      Think of it this way. What if we tried to qualify in Europe? For the perennial powers, Europe is an easy qual route. For the up and comers like us, it isn’t. We’d be in a group with a traditional power and several other sides as strong as us, and probably hoping we could grab a playoff spot. Most times, we probably wouldn’t qualify. But we’re in a relatively weak confederation, though granted with a fairly demanding qual format – but still a weak confederation.

      So given our strength since the 1990s, qualification is expected… because of that weaker confederation… the same weaker confederation that comprises three to four teams of a weaker pot… and now some want to complain over the lacking fairness of that system.

  5. Wonderloaf says:

    Awesome!!! There’s an article about soccer on another website about soccer!!! LET ME GO TO THAT WEBSITE TO READ IT!!! SO EXCITED!!!!

  6. marc says:

    I agree with most of the goal.com article, but the U.S. seems to match up well against Italy (we gave them one of their toughest games when they won the Cup in 2006).

  7. Increase says:

    Klingsi had some nice hair.

  8. JSmiley says:

    Odds of either Italy or Netherlands being drawn into Pot 2: 2/9
    Odds of that team being drawn into Group A: 1/4 (four SA teams in the “Pot X”)
    Odds of Italy or Netherlands remaining in Pot 4 and being drawn into Group A: 1/8
    Odds of the US also being drawn into Group A: 1/8

    Total odds: 1/1152

    Still too high for me.

    • Kevin_H says:

      Why are you calculating odds just for Group A? Is that the only group that could potentially have such a scenario?

      • Mason says:

        Because group A will also have Brazil. He’s calculating a BRA-ITA-NED-USA group.

        • Kevin_H says:


          • Mason says:

            No prob.

            That group isn’t the GoD. It’s more like the Group of Nuclear Annihilation. Six of the nine matches would be insane, and the other three would be nervy park-the-bus and counter affairs. The US probably wouldn’t advance, but we could sure spoil someone else’s cup by taking a point or eking out a win.

  9. Josh says:

    The soccer Gods owe us. We saved Mexico, and a half billion dollar loss for their country. Swiss, USA, Algeria, Bosnia.

    • Paul Miller says:

      The soccer gods may be thinking we are still in the red after that gift of a draw four years ago.

  10. Lorenzo says:

    That front row looks like “more bars in more places”

  11. DC Josh says:

    Here’s to pulling my hair out on Friday. This is probably the strongest field of nations in a World Cup in a long time. The weakest teams are all in our Pot. Yippee. This pot system is destined to screw us. It is really unfortunate that the draw carries so much weight for average nations like us. But this isn’t CONCACAF qualifying, this is the big dance. It is time to stop worrying and time to man up like true Americans do. We dominate in every other sport, so it’s time to get rid of this inferior complex with our soccer team.

    GER/GHA/ENG – bring it on.

    • Paul Miller says:

      England? If you want to ‘man up’ and play the best, why are you bringing down the quality of the group with those guys?

      • DC Josh says:

        England would be the most intriguing matchup from Pot 4 because of the history between us and them. Then there is also Italy. I wasn’t going off of hardest matchups.

  12. Umlaut says:

    Funniest pregame picture I think I’ve seen yet. I feel like I say that every time a new one is posted…

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  14. Cmoss says:

    SCARY. Can the best storyline next time include winning the world cup also?