Now that we know the pots, this is as good a time as any to review how the process actually works. Even if you’ve watched FIFA World Cup draws before, the wrinkles in this year’s process ensure this one will be a little different, and for those obsessed with the details of these events, timing and order are everything.
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We know there are 32 teams that need to end up in eight, four-team groups, and with the qualifiers divided into four pre-draw “pots,” it’s easy to see how we’re going to proceed. But particularly with one of those pots featuring nine teams, it’s worth reviewing the procedures that will be in place to make sure the draw ends up balanced.
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You can check them out for yourself here, but we’ve taken the liberty of translating FIFA’s words so you’ll know how Friday’s going to go:
- 1. They’re going to solve that nine-team pot problem first. One ball will be pulled at random from Pot Four (the one with all of UEFA’s non-seeded qualifiers) and placed into Pot Two, which currently has only the seven African and South American entrants. Once done, the pots will be even (eight teams each).
- 2. The pots will be drawn sequentially, one through four, with team placed into groups sequentially, A through H.
- 3. Brazil will be the first team pulled out of Pot One. As hosts, they’ll go into Group A and play in the tournament’s opening game. The rest of the teams will be pulled out at random and placed in groups B through H.
- 4. Pot Two is drawn next, albeit with two caveats:
- If the European team that’s in this pot gets slotted with another UEFA qualifier, they’ll instead be bumped down to the next group. For example, if Portugal is pulled from Pot Four, dropped in Pot Two, and is then pulled out to be grouped with Spain, they’ll instead move down to the next non-European group, with the following draw from Pot Two filling the place in Spain’s group.
- Likewise … Pot Two’s South American teams can’t be drawn with CONMEBOL’s seeded qualifier, FIFA committed to spreading out a region’s teams as much as possible. With all non-UEFA confederations limited to one team per group, Chile and Ecuador can not be drawn with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, or Uruguay. If that happens, they’ll be slotted in the next group instead, with the next ball that comes out of Pot Two set to fill the vacated spot. This guaranteed Chile and Ecuador will be grouped with two European teams.
- 5. Pot Three (CONCACAF and Asia) is drawn. No tricks here. If you’re looking for potential Groups of Pain, see if Japan, the United States, or (to a certain extent) Mexico get drawn with Chile and Ecuador.
- 6. Pot Four (the Europe group) is drawn, and because of the care taken to ensure Pot Two doesn’t bunch teams from the same region, each group will have (no fewer than) one or (at most) two European teams.
Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.
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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.
According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.
Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.
The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.
Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.
The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.
Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.
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Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.
Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.
“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”
The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.
With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.
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According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.
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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.
NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.
MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.
If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).
In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.
Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.
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The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
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It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.
Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.
“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.
“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”
While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.