2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States

17 Comments

There is much pot talk today. As ESPN’s Ian Darke mused on Twitter, there was so much “pot talk” he suspected he had somehow woken up in Washington State.

The “pots” in question, of course, are the “pools” of teams assigned today by FIFA from Brazil. Each of the 32 qualifiers were assigned one of four pots. From that, teams will be drawn, one from each pot, into eight groups this Friday.

Mike Prindiville laid out the basics in this ProSoccerTalk post.

So much of the subsequent “pot” talk revolved around potential scenarios. The optimists among U.S. Soccer supporters may have immediately begun dreaming of the Group of Life. That would look something like this:

The United States getting drawn into a group with Switzerland (the seeded team everybody wants), Algeria and Greece. That might look even better than 2010, when the final draw fell pretty favorably for Bob Bradley’s Americans.

But the pessimists immediately commenced to worrying about the nightmare scenarios. That would look something like this:

The United States being drawn into a group with Brazil-Argentina-Spain (choose your Pot One poison), and then with Ghana (a historical troublemaker for the United States) or talented Ivory Coast out of Pot Two, and then the Netherlands or perhaps Italy out of Pot Four.

Well, not to be alarmist, but can we talk about the Sum of All Fears draw scenario? You might want to ask any small children to leave the room; they don’t need to hear this kind of stuff.

Because there are four teams in Pot Four, one will be drawn at random and placed into Pot Two. Residing in Pot Four are two nations that everyone believed should have been seeded in the first place: Italy and the Netherlands. Even France, Portugal or England being the team moved into Pot Two could create a tougher foursome for someone – possibly for the United States.

So, how about the United States tumbling into a harrowing group that looks like this:

Brazil, Netherlands, Italy.

Yikes!

Or, a U.S. group that also includes Germany, Italy, Netherlands. Or, a party-pooping group for the United States that also includes Argentina, England, Italy.

Ruh-row!

Bottom line, the draw before the draw – when that one team from Pot Four is selected randomly and placed into Pot Two – will say so, so much.

(MORE: U.S. to face Korea Republic, plus January camp dates revealed)

(MORE on Friday’s draw: As expected, U.S. placed into Pot Three)

(MORE on Friday’s draw: How Friday’s procedure will work)

(MORE on Friday’s draw: Not using the FIFA rankings to solve the nine-team problem)

(MORE on Friday’s draw: U.S. contingent at Friday’s draw)

(MORE on Friday’s draw: Remembering the lucky 2010 U.S. draw)

.

source:  .

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.