2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event

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LIVE UPDATED GROUPS:

Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, Croatia
Group B: Spain, Chile, Australia, Netherlands
Group C: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, Italy, Costa Rica, England
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, France
Group F: Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Group G: Germany, Ghana, United States, Portugal
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Korea Republic, Russia

UPDATES AND ANALYSIS:

12:22 p.m. Stay tuned to http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/ for a bevy of posts in the coming hours on what this all means, but suffice it to say that England and the United States both saw unfavorable draws. The winners and runners-up of the US group, Group G, will face Belgium, Algeria, Russia or Korea Republic in the knockout round on June 30 or July 1.

12:21 p.m. It is complete:

source:

12:16 p.m. THE UNITED STATES 2014 WORLD CUP GROUP IS COMPLETE, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal joins Germany and Ghana in what will certainly be described as a Group of Death. Russia joins Group H.

Soccerly.com: Just how tough is Group G?

12:14 p.m. France with the break of the draw. After being relieved as the Pot 2 team, they get a winnable Group E. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s first World Cup date will be Argentina.

Soccerly.com: Is France Group E favorite?

12:14 p.m. England joins a very difficult Group D and will open against mighty, hated Italy.

Soccerly.com: Can England advance?

12:11 p.m. Croatia will face Brazil to kick-off the World Cup. Greece joins Group C, so we’ll avoid an UGGG acronym for Group G.

Soccerly.com: Group A details, analysis

12:10 p.m. USA is headed to Group G, which is looking like the front runner for Group of Death. Korea Republic “bailed out” with Algeria and Belgium.

12:07 p.m. Japan is C4 and will open with Cote D’Ivoire, while Costa Rica gets a tough tough group with Uruguay and Italy. Two bad breaks for CONCACAF, which gets a break with Honduras joining Ecuador and Switzerland in E. Still no US, and the two remaining options are vastly different.

Soccerly.com: Who is the favorite in Group C?

12:06 p.m. Money time for USMNT supporters, and Mexico is the first team chosen from Pot 3 and El Tri gets a possibility for Group of Death as A3. Australia gets a tough date with Spain and Chile as B4. Valcke drops a ball and quips that “it’s hard to be old.”

12:04 p.m. Nigeria joins Argentina in Group F as F4, Ghana continues Group G’s alliteration as G3, Algeria joins Group H as H2 in another enviable group for the US.

Soccerly.com: Argentina class of Group F

12:01 p.m. The rest of Pot 2 sees Chile named as B3, Cameroon to A4, Ecuador to E… now for a moment the United States is begging for Group E.

Noon: Double high Noon for Blatter. The team from Pot 4 to Pot 2 was… Italy, who now has a date with Uruguay as D4.

11:56 a.m. Spain is headed for B1, and the Pot 1 teams are coming out. Colombia to C1, Uruguay to D1. Switzerland to E1, Argentina to F1 (a team from Group F has never won World Cup. Gasp!), Germany gets an alliterative group and Belgium heads to Group H.

11:55 a.m. Moving from Pot 4 to Pot 2 is… a mystery ball. Of course, they couldn’t open and close a ball so we’re left in suspense as to which European nation entered a new world of trouble.

11:54 a.m. The script would like us to believe Lima is baffled by these incredibly-challenging rules, but her hero Valcke is here to assure her she’s over-dramatizing things.

11:53 a.m. Fun with Twitter:

11:50 a.m. Special guest “drawers” Sir Geoff Hurst, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane, Cafu, Mario Kempes, Fernando Hierro and Alcides Ghiggia take the stage.

11:47 a.m. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke arrives on stage to join Lima in explaining the rules of the draw (which we’ve covered at-length in the links at the bottom of this page).

11:43 a.m. Enter Pele, who will likely not dance. He introduces a feature that makes at least one lowly American writer quite angry at his  tourism budget.

11:42 a.m.  The trophy!

11:40 a.m. And now, a scantily clad dance team gives us their take on the World Cup. Please, please, please deliver us. It’s already 10 minutes past the time we’ve long anticipated. So you think you can scorpion kick?

11:36 a.m. Brazilian women’s team superstar Marta hits the scene along with Bebeto and the World Cup’s mascot, Fuleco. Guess which one busted out a wild dance number?

11:28 a.m. Another musical number, and quite a show for those in attendance to be sure, but people are far more interested in what comes in moments: which European nation will make the move from Pot 4 to Pot 2, kicking off a chain reaction that will end with 4 teams in 8 groups and a long wait for June. Now a video showing each qualified team.

11:19 a.m. It’s a Disney-like ride through World Cup history, with old photographs and grainy highlights giving way to more familiar, modern highlights. Nice job, FIFA and/or Brazilian video types.

source: AP11:14 a.m. FIFA chief Sepp Blatter notes that it was “high Noon” for the World Cup to return to Brazil. This does not turn out to be a clever intro for Clint Eastwood’s arrival, unfortunately. He speaks of football connecting people and implores Brazilians to bring the world together.

11:00 a.m. The draw broadcast begins with a video tribute to Nelson Mandela and his history with the sport, including the moving moment when South Africa won the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, an honor for which the South African legend worked so hard.

11:03 a.m. Rodrigo Hilbert and his wife, Brazilian model Fernanda Lima, are the hosts for the event, and it’s fair to guess that those who haven’t heard of the latter are now quite impressed. The show now turns to a musical number featuring samba singer Alcione and rapper Emicada.

10:49 a.m. The day has arrived! The fate of the world’s best soccer nations will be decided by tiny pieces of paper inside of little soccer balls, and the path to the 2014 World Cup will be unveiled, beginning at 11:30am ET. Keep refreshing here for news, commentary, updated groups and reaction from around the world.

For your background info, PST has had plenty to say over the past few weeks. Read up:

2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Everything You Need To Know

USA fear toughest ever World Cup Draw but relish chance to make history

What US Soccer wants from the World Cup Draw

Lukaku coy on Everton future, says “decision has already been made”

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Romelu Lukaku has made it no secret that he hopes to play Champions League football, and reality may be setting in that the opportunity to do so won’t come at Everton.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break during Ireland match ]

While the Belgium international hasn’t dealt his hand in regards to his future at Goodison Park, it seems as though the Toffees could be losing out on keeping their star striker.

[ MORE: UEFA qualifying roundup — Wales in trouble, Buffon hits 1000 ]

Last month, agent Mino Raiola claimed that Lukaku’s deal with the English side was 99.9 percent complete, however, the 23-year-old has still yet to ink a new contract.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s UEFA World Cup qualifier against Greece, Lukaku says that his future plans are already made up.

“The decision has already been made so I can’t talk about that,” Lukaku said of his future at Everton.

The former Anderlecht standout has had nothing but success since joining Everton, first on loan and then making a permanent transfer from Chelsea in 2014. Over the combined stints, Lukaku has bagged 83 goals in all competitions for the Toffees, but the young attacker says there’s nothing wrong with having “ambition.”

“There is nothing wrong with ambition. You have to embrace it and where you are as a footballer,” Lukaku said. “I’ve made a long way until now but the road is still long and I know I have to improve and get better. I want to help Everton as much as I can, as well as the national team. I think a lot of stuff can be achieved.

“Sometimes people will mistake things that I say but it’s just ambition that I have; I want to win titles and trophies and I don’t think people should take that as arrogance — people should embrace it.

“This is what footballers need to achieve if they want to become the best, and I think young kids need to learn that too.”

Making sense out of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras

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In the lead up to Friday night’s clash at Avaya Stadium, the U.S. Men’s National Team was faced with a must-win scenario. What came next though was a bit more shocking than most U.S. Soccer supporters could have possibly imagined.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

An emphatic 6-0 scoreline was how it finished in San Jose, California as the USMNT took down Honduras to lift itself out of the cellar of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but it’s how Bruce Arena’s side picked up the result that was so impressive.

After an extended layoff that began in the final months of the 2016 Major League Soccer season, Clint Dempsey has returned to both club and country with a vengeance following Friday’s performance. The artist formerly known as “Deuce” recorded a hat-trick in a span of 22 minutes to solidify an already convincing American lead, leaving Dempsey just two goals shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT scoring record (57).

Dempsey wasn’t the only bright spot though, as Sebastian Lletget, Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore and most notably, Christian Pulisic, turned in stellar performances that really left Honduras with no chance to find its rhythm in the match.

The 18-year-old Pulisic continues to be the talk of the town when it comes to the USMNT, and rightfully so given his club situation. There’s never been a U.S. talent succeeding at a club as big as Borussia Dortmund at such a young age, and Pulisic’s effort against Los Catrachos proved further that the young attacker could be the playmaker the Yanks have been looking for since Donovan’s retirement.

Meanwhile, another player that turned in a great performance was Jozy Altidore, and probably not for the reasons you’d normally think. The Toronto FC striker didn’t get on the scoresheet, however, it was Altidore’s hold-up play and vision that helped the U.S. dominate Honduras.

Altidore has long been a staple of the American attack, and an important one at that with his 37 international goals, which ranks third all-time for the U.S.. If the 27-year-old is able to replicate more performances like Friday night though, that makes the Stars and Stripes significantly more dangerous because of Altidore’s duel-threat ability.

The lone area the U.S. will look to clean up heading into Tuesday’s important qualifying match against Panama will be some of the team’s defensive letdowns. Jorge Villafana turned in a strong performance in his WCQ debut at left back, while veteran Omar Gonzalez had several moments of weakness in the heart of the American backline.

The Pachuca defender was caught out of position on several occasions and gave the ball away at times as well, but fortunately for the U.S., Honduras was unable to capitalize on those errors.

Overall though, the U.S. did exactly what it needed… and then some. The three points was all Arena’s group could have hoped for from the start after lackluster performances against Mexico and Costa Rica back in November, but adding six goals could certainly help down the road as well if goal differential becomes a key factor in the Hexagonal.

It’s difficult to say the U.S. is back because that’s a relative phrase that can be interpreted in numerous ways. The USMNT put in a stellar performance, albeit without key players like Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin defensively, while Bobby Wood and Jermaine Jones are two others that didn’t feature.

[ MORE: Three takeaways from USMNT’s emphatic win on Friday night ]

Only time will tell when it comes to how this team gels over an extended period of time, but it was certainly a dream start for the Americans as Arena Part Deux continues.

Up next, Panama.

Chastain, MacMillan inducted into US Soccer Hall of Fame

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Brandi Chastain looked at the assembled crowd in a tent under the rain and addressed former coach Tony DiCicco, who had just introduced her at the induction ceremony for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

[ MORE: USMNT smashes six past Honduras in CONCACAF WCQ ]

“Thank you, not just for today but for every day that you gave me the chance to play for the women’s national team, and for having the confidence in me and the guts to tell me I wasn’t going to be a forward,” she said.

Chastain, a forward on the 1991 World Cup champions and a left back whose penalty kick won a shootout for the 1999 title, was inducted Friday night along with midfielder Shannon MacMillan, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion three years later.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

The ceremony was held before the U.S. men played Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Remembered most for pulling off her shirt after her World Cup-winning goal and celebrating in a sports bra, Chastain grew up in San Jose and talked about her early days playing youth soccer in the area, starting with the Quakettes. After winning her first World Cup title, she was left off the 1995 roster. She revived her career as a defender.

“Change is good. Though, scary, it’s good. And I think we would all benefit from seeing change as an opportunity for growth and development, and for a new adventure,” she said.

Now 38, Chastain scored 30 goals in 192 international appearances and also won a pair of Olympic gold medals. MacMillan, 42, had 60 in 176 international games.

“It was always such a massive honor that gave me chills every time I walked in that locker room, whether it was my first cap, my 100th cap or my last cap,” MacMillan said. “It was something that I never took for granted.”

Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy was given the Colin Jose Media Award.

The Hall’s building in Oneonta, New York, closed in 2010 and a new Hall is being built in Frisco, Texas.

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.