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FIFA sets World Cup draw pots, USA placed with Asia/Oceania, Dutch seeded over French


The U.S. national team's worst case scenario for the World Cup draw pots took place on Wednesday, with the CONCACAF teams being placed with teams from Asia and Oceania, setting up the strong possibility of the Americans being drawn into a potential Group of Death.

In one of the more surprising developments of the establishment of the World Cup draw pots was the Netherlands being placed among the eight seeded teams, which pushed France into the pot of unseeded European teams. This came about after FIFA decided to use the FIFA world rankings for October to seed the top seven teams to go into the seeded pot along with host South Africa.

For those wondering whether this new seeding procedure was used in an attempt to punish France, FIFA claims that the decision to use only the FIFA World Rankings to seed was made in October in light of the presence of so many European powers in the UEFA World Cup playoffs.

Here are the four pots, of which one team from each will be drawn to make up the eight World Cup groups:

POT 1– Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Netherlands, England, Italy, Germany, South Africa

POT 2– USA, Mexico, Honduras, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand

POT 3– Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria

POT 4– France, Portugal, Denmark, Slovenia, Greece, Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland

The draw will take place on Friday afternoon in South Africa.

What's the SBI take on the pots? They are the pots we were expecting, with the lone difference being the Dutch bumping France out of the seeded pot. It was probably wishful thinking to believe that CONCACAF could be grouped with South America or Africa, and now it will be up to the luck of the draw for the Americans to avoid a truly brutal World Cup group.

What do you think of the pots? Disappointed the United States couldn't be grouped with Africa or South America? Happy to see the French dropped into the European pot? Praying the USA can avoid a Group of Death?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Bring on whoever is unlucky enough to be in the US’s group ;). Pots, seeds, group of death, pff. Just have to beat the 11 guys on the other side of the field.

  2. The pots are fair. The CONCACAF and Asian sides are the weakest in this tournament. I’d like to see the US land in an easier group but true champions will triumph against all odds. This World Cup will be a genuine challange for out boys and I will be supporting them all the way.

  3. I don’t understand why they don’t just divide the teams into quartiles. You should still be able to limit or eliminate confederation overlap, and it would result in a much fairer draw. Not only is it unfair to the US, but some seed is going to get a day off with New Zealand, and another will get a tough opponent.

  4. I think considering how the past few World Cups have gone for us, and how we have played against the teams we might be drawn with, the best we can hope for is USA getting 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss in the group stage, and then for the team we draw with to beat the team we lose to.

    That’s how we progressed in 2002.

    Bradley has to pick his fights, in other words. If we have Brazil in our group, recent history shows that we might as well rest our main guys. Germany, England and Netherlands, likewise. Italy, Argentina, he should go for the draw. South Africa and Spain, go for the win.

  5. I don’t want to see the term “group of death” die, but I would like to see the use of it limited to groups for the ages rather than just the best group of a particular year. The first time I ever heard it used was for the 1986 group of West Germany, Denmark, Uruguay and Scotland. Groups even more deserving of the term were 1966 group of Brazil, Hungary, Portugal and Bulgaria and the 1978 group of Argentina, Italy, France and Hungary.

  6. Food for thought:

    USA’s results in 2009 against teams in the 2010 WC but not in our pot:

    1 win [Spain 2-0], 5 losses [Brazil x2, 0-3, 2-3], Italy 1-3, Slovakia 0-1, Denmark 1-3], with 6 goals for and 13 goals against.

    USA’s results since WC 2006 against teams in the 2010 WC but not in our pot:

    2008: 2 losses [Spain 0-1, England 0-2] 1 draw [argentina 0-0]

    2007: 3 losses [Argentina 1-4, paraguay 1-3, brazil 2-4], 3 wins [denmark 3-1, south africa 1-0, switzerland 1-0]

    Total: 4W-1D-10L, with 15 goals for and 28 against.

    Another way to look at it:

    USA against Pot 1 since WC’06: 2W-1D-7L
    USA against Pot 3: 0W-0D-1L
    USA against Pot 4: 2W-0D-2L

    Interpretation: We are in trouble no matter who we are drawn with.

    Interpretation 2: USA will likely score, but will likely concede twice as many goals.

    Interpretation 3: USA is good to win 1 game. But that’s probably it.

    For fun, let’s throw in some Arena years:

    USA vs. Pot 1 2002-2006 WC: 0-1-10
    USA vs. Pot 3: 2-1-1
    USA vs. Pot 4: 1-1-0

    2006: 1 draw [Italy, in the WC, 1-1], 2 losses [Ghana, in WC, 1-2, Germany 1-4]

    2005: 1 loss [England 1-2]

    2004: 1 draw [Denmark 1-1], 1 loss [Netherlands 0-1]

    2003: 1 win [Paraguay 2-0], 1 draw [Cameroon 0-0], 3 losses [Argentina 0-1, Brazil x2, 0-1, 1-2]

    2002, including WC: 2 wins [Uruguay 2-1, Portugal 3-2], 4 losses [Italy 0-1, Germany x2, 2-4, 0-1, Netherlands 0-2]

    These numbers kinda show how special that result against Spain really is. It’s the only team in Pot 1 other than South Africa we’ve managed to beat.

    As far as Pots 3 and 4, it’s always going to be a coin toss.

  7. Yes, they are different “animals.” However, it did show unequivocally that the U.S. can play with top teams bringing their top talent when we have a strong line-up that is in form. Yes, smaller tournament with less at stake, but it still showed that the U.S. is not to be taken lightly.

    I also think folks here need to take a big step back and ask themselves, “Does the U.S. DESERVE to be seeded?” I think not, especially looking at the seeded teams. We play ANY of those seeded teams and we lose more than half the time. We need to accept our pot draw and accept our group draw this weekend, quit whining, and get prepared.

  8. Surprisingly no. Even if the U.S, had won the Confed cup and beaten Mexico twice it would not have been enough to move them high enough in the FIFA rankings. This is due to the 0.85 factoring for the CONCACAF teams that FIFA uses, (based on previous WC games for each confederation). Any game won against a UEFA or CONENBAL team is worth 92.5% of what a win by them over another UEFA/Conenbal team is.

    What we need this WC is all 3 CONCACAF teams to fare well, that will raise the value of the confederation and the seeding possibility in 2014.

    By the way, I think the loss by Costa Rica to Uruguay and the win by NZ rather than Bahrain forced this move to be seeded with the Asian group, rather than the African group, based on the number of teams from CONCACAF and the Asian fed.

  9. Most likely the US Team will be up against 3 teams that could really expose their defensive woes. I really don’t expect much in 2010 to be honest.

  10. In past Cups each team except the Host Country is randomly assigned the Group position. So Brazil will have a little ball broken open to identify which Group and which position it will have. South Africa is A1 (plays the opening match)

  11. I’m with you – barring either USA or Mexico being grouped with South Africa it’s a high likelihood that we will each make up a group of death (or I prefer Group of Pain).

  12. Because of the way the pots were set up, the US is not going to get as easy a draw as we could’ve. To compare the US group with the other possible groups on Friday, I’m making my own ranking system from a 1 (who I’d least like to see the US drawn with) to an 8 (the most winnable game for the US), then tallying each of the 8 groups total numbers to see how they fared (the lower the total numbers of the 3 teams the US could’ve gotten drawn with, the tougher the group). The only problem with that is that I follow the international closely, but am not nearly as familiar with the 32 teams as an expert like Ives would be. What do you say, Ives? How about a ranking of each of the pots for who the US most and least wants to be drawn with. For what it’s worth, here were mine.

    Seeded teams:

    1. Brazil

    2. Spain

    3. Netherlands

    4. Germany

    5. England

    6. Argentina

    7. Italy

    8. South Africa


    1. Portugal

    2. France

    3. Serbia

    4. Greece

    5. Switzerland

    6. Denmark

    7. Slovakia

    8. Slovenia


    1. Chile

    2. Ivory Coast

    3. Cameroon

    4. Paraguay

    5. Nigeria

    6. Uruguay

    7. Ghana

    8. Algeria

  13. To paraphrase Dennis Green, the pots are what we thought they were.

    I’d like to think that Coach Bob will do his job to get the squad ready regardless of which teams get drawn with us.

  14. Well then, so much for rankings not meaning anything.

    Though I wonder if they would be using the rankings if we were in the top 7, which damnit, if you change a couple of results, we are.

    Just lol @ FIFA’s unchallenged, unfettered power to do whatever they want, whenever they want. How does the soccer world allow this to continue?

  15. Here is how the probabilities break down for the US:

    EASY DRAW (based on current/qualifying form)

    Pot 1: S. Africa is the only “easy” team; 12.5% chance of drawing them.

    Pot 3: Uruguay is the only “easy” team, Paraguay and Chile were nearly the equal of Brazil thru CONEMBOL qualifying; 33% chance of drawing them

    Pot 4: this is probably the hardest pot to decide what is “easy” but here is my take. let’s eliminate France and Portugal from the “easy” group, sure they struggled qualifying but Portugal was good towards the end and France is still France talent wise. I would also eliminate Serbia/Denmark who won pretty tough qualifying groups. That leaves Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece and Switzerland (who battled it out in mediocre qualifying groups together). So essentially a 50% chance of getting one of those four “easy” teams.

    Thus the over all probability for getting into an “easy” group is: 12.5% * 33% * 50% = 2%

    That is right. You read it correctly. A 2% chance of getting an “easy” group.

    So I guess cross your fingers, sacrifice a goat/chicken or just accept the fact that the US is going to be in at least a “pretty darn tough” group.

  16. Exactly. Some of us pointed this out about 2 years back and were met with disgust at even talking about it. So here we are.

    “Let’s just wait and see what the draw is.”
    Um, yeah, ok.

  17. I agree with other posters. The U.S. needs to quit worrying about these “Group of Death” scenarios. We proved in the Confed Cup that we can play with anybody, and we should go into this WC with that mentality. The only way you ever get better is to play tough competition. The U.S. in the long run gains nothing with an easy group, other than overconfidence heading into the knockout stages and a smack of reality by a good team. If we manage our way out of a tough group, I think that serves us better in the knockout rounds.

  18. Good one, Ives. Actually, now that I think about the numbers, even this may not be correct. Would it be 24 out of 424 total combinations (all teams) or 24 out of whatever number include either the US, SA, or both? I’m going to eat lunch now.

    (SBI-No, you’re about to get bludgeoned with a protractor. LOL)

  19. JS and AS, Mig is talking about the likelihood. If there are 424 total combinations and 24 of them include SA and the US, then the likelihood of that happening is 24/424. Order shouldn’t matter. Once SA hits another team from pot 2 or we hit an African team from pot 3, then we just landed in the other 94.33%. I’m pretty sure it’s that simple. The real-time likelihoods will change as some of the 424 combinations that involve the US and SA are eliminated during the draw, but at the start we have a 24 in 424 chance of being drawn into SA’s group (assuming Mig’s numbers are correct, which I am)

    (SBI- When did this become Math by Ives?)

  20. The US has a good chance of beating all 3 of those teams. I would love to play them and beat them to show the world that we are here. It would also help boost the team’s convidence.

  21. I’m of the belief that a Group of Death is no worse than any other group. Assuming the seed is not South Africa, in a weak group the seed will likely run the table, 3-0. That means the USA has two win two games to be assured of passage. Given the ambiguities of referees, our erratic performances, and the wild card of injuries we’ve experienced in the last several world cups, there is no room for error to advance in a weak group. In contrast, in the Group of Death the points likely get split Frequently, there are ways to pass on goal differential, with a tie, even with a loss on the last day. Show me a World Cup where the USA has played three good games in a row. When that starts happening, then it will be better to be in the weak group. The US is capable of a win and a tie in any group if they play well and get a break or two. In the group of death, 4 points may be all you need. There are even ways 3 points would get you through a Group of Death. I can’t see many combinations in a weaker group with these pots where the US will be odds on favorite to get 6 points.

  22. True, but it will affect which group is potentially deemed the “Group of Death” which is what many on here are hoping to avoid. All I’m saying is that by virtue of being a quality side, we have a much greater chance of being in the “Group of Death”. I completely agree that it has nothing to do with who we get drawn in with.

  23. Well, considering we got out of a group with the African champions, and two number 1 seeds in the Confederation Cup, anything with this team is certainly possible. Having said that, the USA can be a group of France, Brazil, and the Ivory Coast, which would be very hard. I think a realistic group would be Italy, Paraguay, and Slovakia. However, in terms of excitement, I’d love to draw England. That game would be fantastic.


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