Commentary

Previewing Saturday's Women's World Cup draw

By Paul Kennedy
(@pkedit)

Students of the World Cup draw know all about the intricacies of the process and history of intrigue surrounding the placement of teams. Saturday's draw for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada has already produced its share of controversy as FIFA dropped Sweden -- the only World Cup finalist to have beaten the USA in the last two years -- from the seeded pot even though it is ranked ahead of Brazil in the current FIFA rankings.

Women's World Cup: Match Schedule

The move was intended to put together an entire pot of European teams and combine the remaining two South American teams with the four unseeded Asian teams. Otherwise, the top four ranked teams join host Canada in Pot 1.

What stands out about the four pots is the possibility that a seeded team, like the No. 1 ranked USA, could just as easily be placed in a Group of Death as it could have a cakewalk into the knockout round. That stems in large part because of the disparity in quality of the teams since the tournament was expanded from 16 to 24 teams. There are about 16 competitive teams in the tournament, but the strength of the remaining eight falls off sharply.

Because teams have been placed in pots based on geography, not strength, the six seeds will be anxiously awaiting the results of the draw. The USA could end up with a group consisting of New Zealand, the highest ranked team in Pot 2, or Nigeria, much, much better than its No. 35 ranking indicates, Australia or China from Pot 3, and Sweden from Pot 4. On the other extreme, the Americans could be facing Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Switzerland, none of which has ever played in the Women's World Cup.

The draw will take place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, across from the capital of Ottawa, and be carried live at noon ET on Fox Sports 1.

Pot 1 (Seeds)
USA (1). Faces Brazil and China, beginning next week, in Brasilia (roster).
Germany (2). Depth credited for Euro 2013 championship campaign.
Japan (3). Record against the USA: 1-24-6.
France (4). First-ever win over Germany came in October.
Brazil (6). For once, has gotten lots of competition outside South America.
Canada (8). Placed as A1 and will open in Edmonton.

Pot 2:
New Zealand (19). Could pose trouble. Football Ferns have been playing well.
Mexico (25). El Tri Femenil was competitive in 2011 but has since regressed.
Nigeria (35). Will be a disappointment if Falcons can't reach quarterfinals.
Costa Rica (40). Finished ahead of Mexico in Concacaf qualifying.
Cameroon (51). Les Lionnes played in Olympics two years ago.
Ivory Coast (64). Lowest-ranked team in the 24-team field.

Pot 3:
Australia (10). Unsettled since Tom Sermanni's departure after 2012 Olympics.
China (14). Back in World Cup after missing out four years ago.
South Korea (17). Strong youth program offers hope.
Thailand (30). Ranks far below other Asian finalists.
Colombia (31). Unbeaten in six games in South American qualifying.
Ecuador (49). Late goal broke T&T hearts in playoff series.

Pot 4:
Sweden (5). Former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage returns to World Cup with native Sweden.
England (7). Swept all 10 qualifiers by 52-1 margin.
Norway (9). Played in every World Cup, failed to reach final eight for first time in 2011.
Netherlands (15). Vivianne Miedema, 18, scored 16 goals in qualifying.
Spain (16). No European country has made more progress in recent years than Spain.
Switzerland (18). Finished with nine wins and one tie in tough qualifying group.

1 comment about "Previewing Saturday's Women's World Cup draw ".
  1. Rick Estupinan, December 8, 2014 at 2:31 a.m.

    Ecuador never had a women soccer team before,so all of a sudden they are participating in a World Cup ?.I hope is not just a wast of money from the Football Federation,sending this team in a "paid vacation".

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