No matter how I look at it, I see the United States men’s national team ending up in a ‘group of death’ in next summer’s World Cup. There really is no other way around it. At all.
The favorites in CONCACAF, Africa and Asia all advanced. Each of the eight former champions will be in Brazil, and all but one of the top 20 teams according to FIFA’s world ranking has punched their ticket (No. 20 Ukraine fell to No. 21 France in Tuesday’s UEFA playoff).
Now that the 32 team field is set, we can pretty much assume that FIFA will pit the CONCACAF teams with the Asian teams in one pot. That is highly unfortunate for the US as they will be the best team in that pool that consists of some weaker teams from Asia. At the very least, it will ensure that the Americans can’t face any of those beatable squads in the group stage in Brazil.
The US will be left to play a seeded team, an unseeded European team and a nation pulled from a pot containing the five African entrants, Chile and Ecuador. That is rough folks.
I played around with this simulator, as I’m sure most of you have as well by now. One time I got a group of US/Argentina/Netherlands/Ghana and the next was US/Brazil/France/Nigeria. Needless to say, no matter how many simulations you do, you’re almost always going to get a tough group, for any team.
The best case scenario is a group like this: US, Switzerland, Algeria and Croatia or US, Switzerland, England, Algeria. Which given how the US won the lottery in 2010 with their group pairing, I highly doubt we’ll be so lucky.
I’m just going to crawl in the corner on December 6 and expect the worst case scenario of US/Spain/Netherlands/Chile.