Wonderful Draw For The USA

US Captain Carlos Bocanegra

Today, the Soccer Gods smiled upon US Soccer for the first time in a long, long time.  The Yanks were drawn into Group C along with England, Algeria, and Slovenia.  That is a very, very manageable group.  After 2006’s Group of Death (and subsequent death-like performance), this year’s group looks like a cakewalk.  It won’t be, of course, but I certainly have more faith going into it.

Perhaps the only thing that could have better for the Americans would have been if they were placed in the host country South Africa’s group.  England, while obviously a top-flight team, has a style similar to the US.  Several players play on domestic teams in the UK and are very familiar with the English players.  The English will have more talent and skill than the Americans, but we only have to play them once and anything can happen in that opening game.

I also have to mention the only other time the USA and England met in a World Cup.  Click here to find out about the greatest upset in American soccer history.

The Slovenians are a team I admittedly don’t know much about.  In the latest FIFA rankings, they jumped 16 spots to number 33, their highest ranking since January of 2004.  It took a playoff upset against Russia on the final day of qualifying for them to even be in the tournament.  The US, however, doesn’t have a stellar record against European countries so they are certainly not to be taken lightly.  Regardless, I already feel pretty good about this game.

The final game is against Algeria.  The Algerians, like the Slovenians, took a one game, neutral site playoff against Egypt to qualify.  They are currently ranked 28th, which is the highest ranking they have ever achieved.  In April 2008, they were ranked 101st in the world so they have made something of a meteoric rise through the ranks.   In my eyes, the Algerians are the weakest African side, but they should have somewhat of a home field advantage by playing on the same continent.

Regardless, I am in love with this draw.  If we can steal a point from England, we will be looking great for the 2nd round and even if we lose that match we’ll still have a good shot at advancing.  I wish the Cup started tomorrow.

A couple more quick notes from the draw:

  • How lucky has France gotten in the last couple of weeks?  First they defeat Ireland after a clear hand ball to get into the World Cup, then they are drawn into Group A with three inferior opponents.  I don’t mind French soccer, but I must admit, I’ll be rooting against them in this Cup…
  • Group G, which consists of Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, and North Korea is the dreaded Group of Death.  It’s a shame for the Ivorians, as they suffered the same fate four years ago when they had to play Argentina, Holland, and Serbia & Montenegro…
  • The second toughest group is Group E, I think.  In that group are Holland, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon.  The Dutch are the clear favorite, but the Danes, Japanese and Cameroonians are all fairly even.  I don’t think I could pick a second team to advance just yet…
  • The best match of the first round is Brazil vs. Portugal, which is on the final day…
  • Group B looks oddly similar to Group D in the 1994 World Cup.  This go around will consist of Argentina, Nigeria, Greece, and South Korea while the 1994 edition swapped South Korea for Bulgaria.  In ’94, Nigeria and Bulgaria advanced…
  • The host country has advanced past the first round in every World Cup.  That will be in jeopardy as the South Africans have to deal with Mexico, France, and Uruguay…

This is the first of many World Cup posts coming over the next six months.  This only comes around once every four years and it’s the biggest sporting event in the universe.  I can’t wait.

5 Responses

  1. Love me some soccer. Watching that with you yesterday was fun! I’m looking forward to the Cup.

  2. Lets go Netherlands.

  3. I look forward to your comments on the Cup. Go USA!

  4. Excellent post! I’m looking forward to following Team USA!

  5. […] prompted me to say back in December that I would be pulling against them in this World Cup.  Turns out, they didn’t need my […]

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