2018 World Cup qualification draw: USMNT gets favorable group

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Begin the countdown as we are less than three years away from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Today in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter took the stage at the same time to begin the ceremonies, as qualification groups were drawn from pots by legends such as Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and Samuel Eto’o.

[ MORE: Valcke to step down from FIFA post ]

Below are the groups from all the continents, as qualification begins later this year.

CONCACAF

Group A: Mexico, Honduras, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize

Group B: Costa Rica, Panama, Grenada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua

Group C: United States, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda/Guatemala

The United States has gotten a pretty favorable group here, paired with Trinidad & Tobago and the winners of two playoffs. They should win Group C with ease.

Group B is very intriguing as Costa Rica and Panama will face off, and could be joined by Jamaica should the Reggae Boyz defeat Nicaragua in their playoff. Jamaica has shown they can be contenders in CONCACAF by making it to the Gold Cup final, but have only qualified for the World Cup once, back in 1998.

UEFA

Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg

Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra

Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino

Group D: Wales, Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova, Georgia

Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia,Kazakhstan

Group F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta

Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, Liechtenstein

Group H: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus

Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland

The biggest matchups in UEFA come from Group A, as the Netherlands, France and Sweden are all grouped together. The Dutch and French are two of the strongest teams in Europe, and you can never count out a side with Zlatan in the mix.

Group G sees heavyweights Spain and Italy paired together, although the rest of the group should be very easy. England will face Scotland in Group F, while Slovakia and Slovenia are always tough opponents to beat.

CONMEBOL

In South America, there is just one group as all the teams must play each other. Today, the first day of matches was drawn.

Colombia vs Peru
Chile vs Brazil
Argentina vs Ecuador
Venezuela vs Paraguay
Bolivia vs Uruguay

Oceania

Group A: Tahiti, New Caledonia, Winner of Round One, Papua New Guinea

Group B: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu

CAF

In Africa, the 26 lowest-ranking teams were drawn into 13 home-and-away ties, with the winners moving on to the second round of qualifying. After the second round matches are played, five groups of four teams will be drawn.

Somalia vs Niger (winner will play Cameroon)
South Sudan vs Mauritania (winner will play Tunisia)
Gambia vs Namibia (winner will play Guinea)
Sao Tome e Principe vs Ethiopia (winner will play Congo)
Chad vs Sierra Leone (winner will play Egypt)
Comoros vs Lesotho (winner will play Ghana)
Djibouti vs Swaziland (winner will play Nigeria)
Eritrea vs Botswana (winner will play Mali)
Seychelles vs Burundi (winner will play DR Congo)
Liberia vs Guinea-Bissau (winner will play Ivory Coast)
Central African Republic vs Madagascar (winner will play Senegal)
Mauritius vs Kenya (winner will play Cape Verde)
Tanzania vs Malawi (winner will play Algeria)
Sudan vs Zambia
Libya vs Rwanda
Morocco vs Equatorial Guinea
Mozambique vs Gabon
Benin vs Burkina Faso
Togo vs Uganda
Angola vs South Africa