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USA's best case, worst case
by Mike Woitalla, December 3rd, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP 2010 DRAW] On Friday, the USA will know which teams it will face in the first round of next summer's World Cup, but FIFA's announcement on Wednesday of the top eight seeds and the distribution of the other 24 teams in the remaining three pots, based on geography, allows speculation on what the best and worst case scenarios are for the Coach Bob Bradley's team.

The USA has had tough draws in its last two World Cups with different results.

In 2006, it was grouped with eventual champion Italy, which it tied, but after falling to the Czech Republic, a semifinalist in the 2004 European Championship, and before being eliminated by African power Ghana.

In 2002, it opened against and upset star-studded tournament favorite Portugal, tied host South Korea and reached the second round despite a loss to Poland.

Two of the four teams in a first-round group will again advance to the knockout stage at the 2010 World Cup. Here are two extreme examples of who the USA might face ... 

WORST CASE
Brazil
USA
Ghana
France 

In the worst-case scenario, the USA is drawn with a seeded team besides host South Africa and ends up facing a strong team from the European group (Pot 4) -- France or Portugal -- and one of the tough African teams on their own continent.

BEST CASE
South Africa
USA
Uruguay
Slovakia

Getting grouped with South Africa isn't just a lucky draw because the Bafana Bafana are so weak. It means that group can't have another African team from Pot 3, but ends up with one of the second-tier South American teams. Uruguay, for example, which earned its World Cup ticket in a tightly contested playoff win over Costa Rica.

Once the balls are all pulled out the pots on Friday, we'll hear which teams end up in the "Group of Death." While the USA is hoping it doesn't end up there, the media of the seeded teams are speculating on their team's worst-case scenarios -- and they include getting grouped with the USA!

THE POTS:

Pot 1 (seeds):
South Africa (A1)
Germany
Brazil
Italy
Spain
England
Argentina
Netherlands

Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and CONCACAF):
Japan
South Korea
North Korea
Australia
New Zealand
USA
Mexico
Honduras

Pot 3 (Africa and South America):
Ivory Coast
Ghana
Cameroon
Nigeria
Algeria
Paraguay
Chile
Uruguay

Pot 4 (Europe):
France
Portugal
Slovenia
Switzerland
Greece
Serbia
Denmark
Slovakia



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