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

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
What They're Saying: Carolina RailHawks fan Howie Perl    
"You'd think if corruption at all touched the RailHawks, that they'd be really good and buying ...
Reports: High-powered lawyer presses NASL demands    
Sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represented MLS players in the 1996 lawsuit against MLS, its owners ...
MLS Power Rankings: Galaxy stays on its perch     
The LA Galaxy, winner of four games in a row and eight out of its previous ...
O'Neill moves on to last-place Belgian club    
The deal by which Shane O'Neill left MLS for Cypriot club Apollon Limassol a month ago ...
NASL: Pinho's hat trick gives him scoring lead    
Brazilian striker Stefano Pinho is the hottest player in the NASL. He followed up on two ...
USL: OKC's Koenig ties league scoring record    
OKC Energy FC moved into first place and became the first Western Conference team to earn ...
What They're Saying: Caleb Porter    
"We're coaches, and we're all ambassadors for MLS and want the game to grow, and I ...
Video Pick: BWP's volley leads MLS golazos    
A diving header by Kevin Doyle (Colorado), sharp-shooting from Diego Fagundez (New England) and Andrew Jacobson ...
Nesta joins Maldini as head coach at Miami FC    
Miami is the home to retired Italian stars. It's been Paolo Maldini's second home for 15 ...
U.S. Abroad: Timothy Chandler needs knee surgery    
U.S, national team defender Timothy Chandler has been lost for the friendlies against Peru and Brazil ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives