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

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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)

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AT HALF: Lukaku, Lingard have Man Utd up at West Brom (video)

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Romelu Lukaku didn’t celebrate much more than a fist pump following his match-opening goal against former teammates West Bromwich Albion.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com).

No one said anything about celebrating teammates’ goals, though.

Lukaku scored to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead, then watched as Jesse Lingard‘s deflected lash left Ben Foster high and dry as United cruised into the break up two goals.

It’s 10th PL goal of the season for Lukaku, who has 15 in all competitions. For Lingard, it’s four and seven.

Here’s Lingard’s marker:

Celtic’s record unbeaten run ends at 69 matches

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Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run has ended at 69 matches, and it ended with a thud.

Tynecastle Park was the scene for a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hearts, a defeat started by a 16-year-old’s first Scottish Premiership goal.

[ REPORT: Luiz done at Chelsea? ]

Harry Cochrane’s his name, and his 26th minute goal gave Hearts the lead, and it was 2-0 by halftime through Kyle Lafferty, the ex-Burnley and Norwich player.

David Milinkovic scored three minutes after halftime, as the wake-up call didn’t arrive at the break, and added a penalty kick late in the match.

Celtic has a two-point lead on second-place Aberdeen with a match-in-hand. Rangers sit five-points back.

Sixty-nine games! Remarkable in any league. Here’s what Rodgers had to say:

“But I also want to congratulate my players. To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up. They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”

WATCH LIVE: West Brom vs. Manchester United

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The Hawthorns is the scene as Manchester United attempts to pull back into sole possession of second place on the Premier League table with a visit to West Bromwich Albion (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies have several regular starters on the bench, with Chris Brunt, Gareth Barry, and Gareth McAuley (Allllll the Gareths!) getting a rest.

United will hand starts to Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, with Anthony Martial on the bench with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Krychowiak, Yacob, Livermore, Burke, McClean, Rondon. Subs: Myhill, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, Barry, Rodriguez, McAuley, Field.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw, McTominay, Ibrahimovic, Martial.

Report: Luiz done at Chelsea, perhaps as soon as January

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A report out of England says Chelsea defender David Luiz could be out the door in January.

Luiz, 30, has a knee injury and has played in just one match for Chelsea since a Halloween loss to Roma in the Champions League, one that supposedly culminated in a blow-up between the defender and manager Antonio Conte.

He was sold once before by Chelsea, shipped to Paris Saint-Germain for $66 million in 2014 before returning to Stamford Bridge in 2016 for $45 million.

[ MAN CITY-SPURS: 3 things |  Studs and duds ]

Luiz has made just one appearance, a Nov. 22 match in Qarabag, since that Roma loss. He returned to the bench against Liverpool before being diagnosed with a knee injury.

The report says Juventus is a possible destination for Luiz, though the Champions League could be a problem for both sides. Luiz is Cup-tied to Chelsea, and Juventus remains in the UCL as well.

And Chelsea would need reinforcements at the back. It’s back three has operated with Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Gary Cahill. Other options are Antonio Rudiger and 20-year-old Jake Clarke-Salter, which would be fine were Chelsea not alive in four competitions (The League Cup quarterfinals have the Blues hosting Bournemouth on Wednesday).

The power seems a bit more in Luiz’s hands thanks to some of Conte’s sanctioned loans. Kurt Zouma has arguably been Stoke City’s most consistent performer in an under siege unit, one of 10 backs on season-long loans. The most sense is to find reconciliation, presuming the dust-up is real, and move on in the summer if necessary.