Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Luck of draw has evaded USA
by Ridge Mahoney, December 4th, 2009 7AM



[WORLD CUP 2010 DRAW] The first thing you can say about the past World Cup draws for the United States is none of them have been favorable, and the prospects for Friday's 2010 draw aren't promising with the USA and other Concacaf nations grouped with teams from Asia and Oceania in the weakest pot.

Regardless of how it determines the seven seeded teams to join host South Africa, FIFA prefers to group the remaining teams geographically, even though its current rankings place the USA (No. 14) and Mexico (No. 15) much higher than the countries they are grouped with.

In 2006, as a seeded team, Mexico drew Portugal, Iran and Angola, a mix of Europe/Asia/Africa that was much easier than what the unseeded Americans faced. This time around, the USA, Mexico and Honduras will face a seeded team, a European team, and one nation from a pot that includes the five African qualifiers other than the host, and three South American teams -- Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay - that join Conmebol seeds Brazil and Argentina.

Twice (1990, 2002) the Americans have been drawn with the host, and once (2006) it was grouped with the eventual champion. Its two "easiest" draws, relatively speaking, came in 1994 and 1998, when no group foe got past the quarterfinals even though when the draws came out, going up against a hot Colombian team ('94) and the always tough Germans ('98) didn't instill confidence.

Except for '98, when it failed to garner a single point and looked outclassed in all three games, the USA has done well against the teams perceived to be the toughest. It stunned Portugal in 2002 and Colombia in 1994, managed a 1-1 tie with champion Italy in 2006, and battled the host Italians to a tight 1-0 defeat in 1990.

Here's a ranking of U.S. groups, toughest to easiest, since 1990 along with a quick rundown of how the U.S. and its foes eventually fared:

1. 1990 - Italy (host), Czechoslovakia, Austria
In its first World Cup since 1950, the U.S. froze up in the opening match and lost Eric Wynalda to first-half red card in a 5-1 hammering by Czechoslovakia, which eventually advanced to the quarterfinals and lost to eventual champion West Germany, 1-0. A more determined U.S. team lost narrowly to Italy, 1-0, in Rome, then succumbed in its final game, 2-1, against Austria. Italy infuriated its fans by losing to Argentina on penalties in the semifinals.

2. 2002 - Portugal, South Korea (co-host), Poland
The much-fancied Portuguese paid dearly for their pre-tournament party stay in Macao with a 3-2 defeat, and the Americans rode that momentum and some spectacular Brad Friedel goalkeeping to tie the host, 1-1. In the final group games, South Korea redeemed a 3-1 U.S. crash against Poland by beating and eliminating Portugal when a tie would have been enough for both to qualify at the expense of the USA. Then came a spectacular 2-0 defeat of Mexico and a bitter 1-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals; the ebullient South Koreans swept past Italy and Spain before falling to Germany in the semis.

3. 2006 - Czech Republic, Italy, Ghana
(host: Germany)
In the "Group of Death" the USA played its best game against the best team, but despite that 1-1 tie in its second match, it had stumbled badly against the Czechs to open with a 3-0 loss, and couldn't handle the tough Ghanaians in the finale (losing 2-1). Italy plowed through to the final and prevailed on penalties against France; Ghana, which blasted the Czechs in its second game, did everything right but finish and play the offside trap in a 3-0 second-round loss to Brazil.

4. 1994 - Colombia, Switzerland, Romania (host: USA)
After tying the Swiss, 1-1, to open the tournament, the USA went up against favored Colombia, which had been picked by Pele to win the competition yet had lost its first match to Romania. Colombia stumbled again, losing 2-1 in the Rose Bowl. The USA, as it usually does, lost its final group game, but squeaked through as a third-place team into the round of 16, in which it lost to eventual champion Brazil, 1-0. Switzerland advanced and fell at the same stage as the USA; Romania upset Argentina before losing a penalty-kick shootout to surprising Sweden (third place) in the quarterfinals.

5. 1998 - Germany, Yugoslavia, Iran (host: France)
Three and out never felt so bad. Germany prevailing, 2-0, in the opener could have been forgiven, but in game two a politically charged crowd roared the Iranians to a 2-1 win that left the final match, a 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia, as a formality. Germany shocked the world by falling in the quarterfinals, 3-0, to upstart Croatia, and Yugoslavia's World Cup ended in the round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS preseason returns to Tucson in 2016    
Ten MLS teams will take part in preseason training in Tucson, Arizona, where the 2016 Desert ...
Ellis calls up Colaprico and Lavelle for first time    
U.S. women's national team coach Jill Eilis called in 28 players -- 20 who went to ...
What They're Saying: Chris Dangerfield    
'We used to go to movies, have cups of tea, strange things you do when you ...
What They're Saying: Tim Leiweke    
"I think we have found a site. It's probably different than what people think we're doing, ...
Video Pick: How Ronaldo gets treated by customs     
Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't seem to have a difficult time getting through customs, as demonstrated by this ...
NASL's Jacksonville banks on Tony Meola    
Hall of Fame goalkeeper Tony Meola, whose previous coaching experience since retiring as a player in ...
Video Pick: Messi proves he's fully recovered    
Lionel Messi, out of Barcelona's starting lineup for two months because of a knee injury, scored ...
Red Bulls' success nets Marsch Coach of the Year honors    
Inexperienced head coaches don't often flourish in MLS, yet in just his second season as a ...
TV Report: El Clasico draws 1.87 million BeIN Sports viewers    
The Real Madrid-Barcelona game on beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Espanol drew a combined television ...
What They're Saying: Rangers manager Mark Warburton    
"I have been delighted with his contribution and the last game he played for Rangers was ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives