World Cup Qualifying

USA gets Jamaica in preliminary draw for 2014 World Cup

World Cup (Reuters)

We may be nearly three years away from the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but the first major step towards determining who will take part occurred in Rio de Janeiro with the preliminary draw for World Cup qualifying on Saturday.

The United States, which gets a bye until the third round of CONCACAF qualifying, was drawn into Group A along with Jamaica and the winners of Group E and Group F from round two. Mexico and Costa Rica were drawn into Group B with the winners of groups A and B while Honduras and Cuba rounded out the field in Group C to be joined by winners of Group D and C. 

The top two teams from each group will advance to the hexagonal with the top three teams earning a place in Brazil while the fourth-placed finisher faces a home-and-away playoff with an Asian team in an intercontinental playoff. The USA faces an easy road to the hexagonal with 115th-ranked Guatemala its highest-ranked challenger.

Here is a quick look at some of the highlights from today's draw:

The European draw saw a bit of controversy with perennial powerhouse France being relegated to Pot 2 despite a lofty FIFA ranking. World-champion Spain was the unlucky recipient of the 2006 runner-up and the two will face off in a very difficult Group I. Group A will feature a United Kingdom derby between Scotland and Wales while England should have no problems with a weak Group H.

The top finishers in each European group earn an automatic berth while the top-eight runners-up advance to a home-and-away playoff to determine the final four places.

The odds for a New Zealand return to the World Cup got a bit longer with the news that Oceania will face the fifth-placed finisher in the CONEMBOL region. There was no draw for the South American teams which will instead advance directly to a nine-team round robin tournament.

The draws for Africa and Asia passed without any juicy matchups in the opening rounds. As of today, 175 teams remain the running for the final 31 qualifying spots with Brazil, as host, the only automatic qualifier. The United States will begin World Cup qualifying in June of 2012.

During the ceremony, FIFA president Sepp Blatter attempted to assuage any fears of Brazil's ability to host the tournament despite reported delays.

"It is a matter of trust and confidence and FIFA have trust in Brazil and are confident of its abilities," Blatter said. "Football is the beating heart of Brazil. It is a multi-cultural country of joy and celebration blessed with natural beauty and a booming economy."


What did you think of today's draw? Confident the USA can advance without any troubles? Excited for the "Group of Death" in Europe? Excited about the qualifying campaigns of any other country?

Share your thoughts below.


  • El Gringo Ronaldo

    WOW! Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia are in the same W.C. qualifying group. I can already hear A.K’s being cleaned…


  • Erik

    I would bet matches get abandoned and have to be played behind closed doors…

    For as much grief as the US gets on the world stage for race/culture relations, we don’t hold a candle to that region.


  • Chris

    Is this the first time we’ve gotten a bye? Is it an advantage for us or a way to try to let other teams get further in qualifying?


  • EA

    CONCACAF just eliminated the the “play-in” games for the big teams in the second round.

    For the last cycle, Barbados was our home and away opponent in the second round.

    So, realistically… we had a bye.

    Good lord, I think Danny Szetela scored a goal in the first leg, and John Thorrington started the second leg.

    This way is MUCH better.


  • Phil

    Ives, the Oceania winner will play the fourth ranked from concacaf and not from conembol. Asia will play off against conembol.


  • Jay

    Grant Wahl reported that CONCACAF fourth place plays the Oceania winner. So someone is wrong.


  • Poo

    if this is correct its a huge plus from last time with 4th place versus conembol


  • micah

    fifa.com says:

    Intercontinental play-offs
    Asia – South America
    North, Central America and the Caribbean – Oceania


  • BigBlueAL

    So South America has a chance to have 6 teams in the WC?? Brazil, top 4 finishers in qualifying and the 5th place if they beat Asia??


  • ZacIndy

    yep. CONCACAF tried for the .5 spot so that their 4th would gain automatic entry but to no avail. I guess the idea being that it’s a South American World Cup.

    But now you would think that the a 5th place finisher in a Brazil-less group would proabably be a weaker team than usual; Venezula or Peru for example, might be a good match up with an Iran or Bahrain.


  • Brent McD

    I think US got a fairly benign draw. Our other two 3rd round opponents look to be Guatemala and Haiti. Much better than El Salvador, Trinidad, or Panama. Was also going to say Canada , but I’m not really sure what direction their national team is going….


  • rana

    Because two teams go forward the key to the group is who is the third best team. I would slot the teams this way:
    A; US, Jamaica, Guatemala, Haiti
    B Mexico, CR, El Salvador, T&T
    C: Homduras, Panama, Canada, Cuba

    So Mexico is in the toughest group and Honduras has the easiest


  • Ivan

    What a joke Concacaf qualifiers are…at least with the prior format US got to play a real team in Mexico…pick any random group in Europe: Holland, Turkey, Romania, Hungary…Italy, Denmark, Czech Rep, Bulgaria and compare to the concacaf travesty…US gets to play Jamaica to go to the World Cup. What an absolute frickin’ joke…

    Or check the South American bracket where they all play each other home and away…in either Europe or So America, US would qualify to the World Cup once every 7 tournaments or so…


  • bkl

    umm – i believe the top two teams in group a,b and c then form the final group.


  • TBrodie

    The top two teams in the U.S’s group will advance to the 6-team hexagonal, where they will play Mexico twice.


  • BamaMan

    We got a very good draw. Truthfully, I’m almost sad that Mexico got such a difficult draw as their recent run of play signals they are, in my humble opinion, a dark horse to win it all in 2014. But I much prefer the new format to the old play-in game. It will make CONCACAF a stronger region and will strengthen our path to the WC.

    But Jamaica and Guatemala I will take any day over Costa Rica and/or Panama


  • Steve McSteve

    If Mexico is good enough to win it all, the draw in CONCACAF will be of no consequence.


  • bigPepe'sPapa

    Kalashnikovs dont need to be cleaned, so that preparation you hear is only half of whats probably planned between those three countries. I’m guessing not only will games will be played behind doors, but results will be withheld until the visiting team and staff are safely out of the country


  • bigPepe'sPapa

    no way. Remember how the Costa rican players were already crying after Bornstein’s header in DC meant they would have to play Uruguay? Hey, maybe Canada will make it back to world cup w/this “fourth” slot.


  • bigPepe'sPapa

    despite being perennial under achievers, Canada seems due. I also think Panama played beyond their ability in the recent Gold cup. I think Canada will get their act together and make that final 6.


  • westcoaster

    This new CONCACAF format is great! The US got the almost the best possible draw we could have hoped for! Only way it could have gone better is if you replaced Jamaica with Cuba, and Guatemala with one of the island nations (could’ve been St K&N, Dominica, or A&B).

    We should always make the Hex no matter what, but at least we’re not in Group B.


  • fieldsy

    I had no idea that Cuba was ranked ahead of Canada.

    This shouldn’t be too difficult a group for the U.S., but it could be an interesting hexagonal to qualify for the world cup.


  • Gerald

    Those Random groups surely don’t want to see the US or Mexico in them. Yes region has been week so they changed the format so that the weaker teams play more matches


  • rana

    I like this format as well. This setup largely removes the luck of the draw problem that UEFA faces (think Spain-France in the same group). One problem is that the US will play 16 games to qualify (6 in this round robin and 10 in the Hex) largely against decent but not great competition. These games might help us prepare the team for the WC. But, we need to schedule a much more demanding set of friendlies because the CONCACAF games, while high in intensity,will be against rather low skilled competition relative to the WC.


  • Lorenzo

    Canada seems like a solid team with no bite. Watching them in the Gold Cup, they were a solid team in every area except offense. They look like a team that can play with any CONCACAF team but won’t win many because they can’t score.

    At least USA had Donovan and Dempsey, and set peices with Boca, Onyewu, Dempsey lining up back in 2007.


  • DCUPedro

    Once we reach the final stage of qualifying, those games will be very difficult for us. History bears that out.

    When has the hex qualifying ever been “easy” for us. There will be nailbiting stretches during qualifying. It happens every cycle. There will be gnashing of teeth.

    If you watched the gold cup, CONCACAF is deeper than ever. A hex of the US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Panama with three spots up for grabs will not be something we will waltz through, particularly with a coach who has NEVER managed a qualifying campaign before, and NEVER dealt with the “challenges” that CONCACAF away matches present for the US.

    No friendly we schedule will be as demanding, stressful, and intense as our qualifying campaign. History shows this. And yet our fans consistently forget it.


  • Lorenzo

    Eddie Lewis scored off a Freddy Adu assist. Szetela played, so did Maurice Edu I believe and were slipping all over the pitch. First game Brek Shea was called up but didn’t play.

    Was actually a nice assist by Freddy Adu


  • fsegaud

    watching ESPN3, the english announcer had it all wrong saying Asia v. CONCACAF because those were the first two drawn when in fact the draw was carried out so that I believe the first two drawn regions are the host of the first leg so 1st drawn is v. 3rd drawn and 2nd drawn is v. 4th drawn. It was evident when a graphic showed the match ups after this so called “simple draw”.

    The announcer NEVER corrected himself throughout the draw. I think I found a new job for Bob Bradley.

    So in the end, it is CONCACAF v. Oceana, asia v. CONMEBOL


  • otergod

    lol, perhaps you should brush up on your qualifiers.

    US may have to go through Jamaica in this stage, but the top 2 teams move on to the Hex where it’s home and away setup of the “top” 6 teams.

    May be a different approach, but doesnt make the system any more of a joke.


  • Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper"

    Well said Pedro. AND You have my vote for el presidente


  • Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper"

    I am glad we have the HEX to “steel” ourselves for the competition at the Copa but I wish it were and Octagon.


    I think having to play the 14 games between these teams would give a us a bit better prep fr the cup. Some teams give you Size and physicality, Speed and Counter attacking, Bunkering and Quick passing. It may be a longer grind, but I think any of the 4 teams that make it through will be that much sharper for the competition ahead.

    Just sayin


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