Let’s not kid ourselves, Friday is one of the coolest days to be a soccer supporter. The World Cup draw (11 am ET) has made men pulling tiny pieces of paper out of little balls an intense event, and if any of us have the fortune of living to be 100, we’ll still only get to do this on a couple dozen occasions.
I’ll personally admit to a little consternation after reading the plethora of posts on the plight of the United States and their chances in a tough group. Aside from the dreaded Group of Death (or Pain, as Richard Farley prefers), fans of the Yanks need to get over their soccer inferiority complex. You’re the 14th ranked team by FIFA, nearly as close in points to the Top Five as falling out of the Top 25. You’re the team no one wants from Pot 3, so put on your adult pants and get excited. Heck, there’s a big part of me that wants England in the group again.
So, what would be the ideal way for the balls to fall if you’re a US Soccer supporter?
POT 1: I don’t want any part of the host nation nor a CONMEBOL team whose support will come streaming from a bordering nation currently in FIFA’s Top 10 and whose electric attacks bode poorly for a still unsettled and likely inexperienced US backline. Hope for a club as far away from home as possible. In order, hope for Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and Germany.
POT 2: With the added twist of the unknown! Earlier this week FIFA announced that it would be a random club from Pot 4, not France as UEFA’s lowest-ranked qualifier, that would join five African nations, Chile and Ecuador in Pot 2. My hope would be for Greece or England to pop into the group ahead of France, again due to defending concerns. In this instance, I’m hoping for Ecuador, Algeria or Cameroon, in that order.
POT 4: Oh, brother. There are nearly as many match-ups to rue here as there are in Pot 1. Portugal, Holland and Italy are the countries I’d rather avoid, with Bosnia-Herzegovina close behind (and for my money, a smart long-shot for the tournament).
So, while the nightmare draws have been dealt with at-length in this space (smartly, I might add, by our own Steve Davis), here’s what I’m hoping for come Friday, without doubling up on opponents for each successive scenario.
Number 1: Switzerland, Algeria, United States, Greece
Number 2: Colombia, Cameroon, United States, Croatia
Number 3: Belgium, Ecuador, United States, England
Agree? Disagree? Let’s have some fun here. Comment away!