“What does this mean for the U.S. national team?” was your first question, wasn’t it?
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Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. With two key 2018 World Cup qualifiers to come against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago next month, the USMNT still have plenty to do before they stamp their ticket to Russia.
Still, it’s fun to figure out who the U.S. might get if they do make it, right?
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On Thursday it was announced that FIFA has finalized exactly how the draw for the 2018 World Cup (due to take place in Moscow on Dec. 1) will work. After the Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions met in Zurich, they decided that the seeding of teams will be based on the October FIFA World Rankings.
So, the U.S. being bumped down to 28th place on Thursday wasn’t too helpful for the September rankings, but they could turn things around a little with two wins in World Cup qualifying next month.
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The seedings will be as followed:
- Pot 1: Hosts Russia plus the top seven teams according to the rankings
- Pot 2: Teams ranked 7-15
- Pot 3: Teams ranked 16-24
- Pot 4: Team ranked 24-32
Of course, it won’t go directly on the FIFA rankings because some teams currently ranked inside the top 32 (I’m looking at you, the Netherlands, USA and Iceland) may not qualify for Russia.
More from FIFA on how this will work:
“Allocation: All teams will be allocated to pots 1 to 4 based on sporting principles with each pot containing eight teams. This means that the October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots according to their ranking in descending order, with the best seven teams along with hosts Russia in pot 1. The principle of drawing the teams into the groups will remain unchanged. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, which could have up to two teams in the same group, will be drawn into the same group.
Group formation: Eight groups of four teams will be labelled A to H: the four pots will be emptied completely by allocating one of their eight teams to each of the eight groups.”
What does this mean for CONCACAF? Well, it seems likely Mexico will be in Pot 2, with Costa Rica potentially bumped up to Pot 2 depending on how some of the UEFA teams ranked above them far in the playoffs many will likely be involved in.
The USMNT will likely be in Pot 3, if they qualify, meaning another Group of Death scenario is very real. Who said FIFA’s world rankings didn’t mean anything…
Via Paul Carr from ESPN, below is a look at the projected four pots for the World Cup draw.