Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
There are many things Jurgen Klinsmann is happy about these days. The upcoming 2014 World Cup draw isn’t one of them.
A week removed from helping his U.S. Men’s National Team finish first in the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, Klinsmann expressed his displeasure with FIFA’s World Cup seeding process for the 2014 tournament in Brazil in an interview on ussoccer.com.
Like many other observers, Klinsmann has pointed out that FIFA’s new seeding system for this World Cup will likely result in at least a couple of very tough groups worthy of consideration for the Group of Death. That is because traditional top nations Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany have been seeded and thrown into Pot 1 along with Switzerland, Belgium, Colombia and likely Uruguay, which leaves talented teams like Italy, the Netherlands and England to be drawn from one of the other three pots.
The result of that will lead to, on paper, uneven groups being drawn.
“Looking at Pot no. 1 and the seeding of the World Cup, it kind of makes you think a little bit, if this is the right way to do it,” said Klinsmann. “You have to find a way hopefully to make everybody happy. It’s not going to happen, nobody will be happy with everything. But, when you have a Pot no. 1, you expect countries in there that really proved it in World Cups, in the history of the World Cup. Now you see teams that haven’t really done that much in previous World Cups and you wonder ‘Why is it that way now?’
“The consequence is that you will have a couple of groups getting drawn on Dec. 6 in Brazil that are Groups of Death that will be killer groups; there’s not even one easy team or whatever. Then you will find maybe two or three groups that are much easier, at least on paper easier. It’s unbalanced now with that seeding procedure and it will cause a lot of question marks, a lot of discussion and debate once the groups are finalized. It is what it is, but I’m not very happy with it.”
The U.S. had a small chance to be seeded heading into last month’s final round of qualifiers, but the results they needed to go their way did not. The Americans did, however, beat Panama, 3-2, in a scintillating match in Panama City that saw the U.S. finish atop the Hexagonal for the third straight World Cup cycle.
Last cycle, the Americans had a favorable draw for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They were placed in a group that included England, Slovenia and Algeria, and finished in first place, marking the first time the U.S. ever won its World Cup group.
The draw for the 2014 World Cup is on Dec. 6 in Bahia, Brazil. The U.S. will play Scotland and Austria in road friendlies before then.
“Playing Scotland and playing Austria, you’re playing two countries that just missed it to go to the World Cup. They’re really good,” said Klinsmann. “Scotland beat Croatia and sent them into second spot [in Group A], into the playoffs, and Austria just by very little finished off third in a group with Germany and Sweden there. They will give us real games. It will help us to see our players and where we’re at against very good teams.
“The fact that MLS scheduled their playoffs according to our schedule is a tremendous plus. It’s very respectful and gives us a chance to take some MLS players with us to Europe. How many we’ll take, we’ll see. We’ll see how things are going for every individual player. But, I think it’s a really good sign from MLS looking at our schedule, respecting the FIFA fixture dates there and giving us the option to take MLS players to Europe.”
Does Klinsmann have a legitimate beef over FIFA’s World Cup seeding system? Are you worried the U.S. will be drawn into a difficult group?
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