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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Scenes from around the UCL final

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We’re just hours away from kickoff in Kiev, Ukraine, and the streets are lined with football supporters ahead of the year’s biggest club final.

Liverpool and Real Madrid will meet at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on Saturday, as the latter aims for its fourth UEFA Champions League crown in five seasons.

Let’s take a look at the sights around Ukraine and abroad ahead of the UCL final.


Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox took to Twitter to show their support for the Reds, with both teams owned by John Henry.

Los Blancos go for an unprecedented fourth UCL title in five years, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. aim to assert their dominance once again.

Reds legend John Arne Riise took part in Liverpool’s last UCL title in 2004/05, and holds the giant piece of silverware once again.

Supporters from both sides are out in full force in Kiev, with the Reds hoping to spoil yet another UCL triumph for Madrid.

Supporters all over the world will have their eyes on the most important club competition in football, with the Champions League hosting viewing parties in Shanghai, London and Rio de Janeiro.

Report: Napoli’s Sarri in as next Chelsea manager?

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Antonio Conte hasn’t been relieved of his managerial duties at Stamford Bridge; at least not yet, however, reports out of Italy are suggesting the Blues are in line for a new boss.

Gazzetta del Sport is reporting that Chelsea is preparing to hire Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, who remains under contract with the Serie A side.

The report says that Sarri is preparing his staff to make the move to London, although both managers are currently tied to their clubs.

Additionally, Sky Italy has stated that an agreement in principle has been reached between Sarri and Chelsea, assuming Conte leaves the Blues.

Chelsea wouldn’t have to pay Sarri’s $9 million release clause if they wait until after Thursday to complete a deal.

Conte endured an up-and-down 2017/18 season with the Blues, however, Chelsea did manage to close the year on a high note with an FA Cup title.

Meanwhile, Sarri has held his post at Napoli since 2015, guiding the club to top three finishes in all three seasons in Italy’s top flight.

Video: Modric, Milner show off in training ahead of UCL final

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The UEFA Champions League final hasn’t even kicked off yet, and Liverpool and Real Madrid are already trying to show each other up with some gorgeous golazos.

[ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s UCL final ]

Both sides had their final training sessions on Friday, and there were several unforgettable moment for each club.

We start with Real, who even got manager Zinedine Zidane involved in a crossing and finishing drill with some of his players.

This is where Luka Modric’s stunning volley came into play (below).

Meanwhile, in an inter-squad scrimmage amongst Liverpool’s team, James Milner unleashed this brilliant curling effort into the top corner (below).

LIVE: Aston Villa, Fulham battle for Premier League promotion

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The task is quite simple for the two sides competing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday; win and you’re back in the Premier League.

Aston Villa and Fulham will battle it out for the third and final promotion spot into the PL (12 p.m. ET) after boasting tremendous 2017/18 campaigns.

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For both clubs, there is a significance about restoring their role as a PL club, with Fulham last competing in the top flight four seasons ago and Villa two seasons removed.


Aston Villa: Johnstone; Chester, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane, Jedinak, Hutton, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah, Grabban. Bench: Whelan, Hogan, Bree, Onomah, Bjarnason, Kodjia, Bunn.

Fulham: Bettenelli; Fredericks, Sessegnon, Odoi, McDonald, Johansen, Cairney, Ream, Targett, Mitrovic, Kamara. Bench: Button, Fonte, Ayite, Norwood, Piazon, Christie, Kalas.