Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
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

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Eleven teams will battle for five Champion League spots    
Eleven teams have qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League, and 11 more teams, ...
Video Pick: Bend it like Uesato    
Our favorite free kick goal of the week comes from J-League 2, where Consadole Sapporo's Kazumasa ...
Breaking down the NCAA Division I women's quarterfinals    
The NCAA Division I Women's Tournament moves into the quarterfinals with three games on Friday and ...
A back-heel sombrero from Greek boy     
[VIDEO PICK: Skills] Greek youth soccer, in a game between AO Ioannina and Agia Eleousa, delivers ...
What They're Saying: Jose Mourinho    
"Obviously they must be very sad with the result but when we lose against a team ...
Report: W-League champion Pali Blues are folding    
The LA Blues won W-League titles as the Pali Blues in 2009, 2009 and 2013 and ...
The Messi files: Eight amazing scoring records    
Lionel Messi holds all the single-season scoring records. Now, he is cleaning up on the all-time ...
Mulroy departs NASL runner-up Ft. Lauderdale Strikers    
Tommy Mulroy, the longtime soccer promoter, is out as the president of the NASL Ft. Lauderdale ...
Business Reporter: adidas to open store in Orlando stadium    
MLS sponsor adidas will operate the league's first in-stadium store starting in 2016 with the opening ...
Three takeaways from Manchester City-Bayern Munich     
The Champions League actually includes runners-up and third- and fourth-place finishers, but this Group E game ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives