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Klinsmann unhappy with FIFA’s World Cup seeding process

Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by Michael Janosz/


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

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?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Just ran that simulator about eight times. Once I got what looked like a tougher group than we’ve seen before. Last time I got Switzerland, Ecuador and B&H.

    In 2006 we had Italy, the Czech Republic arguably at its peak, and Ghana. That was tougher than all my simulations except one.

    We’re always going to have a seeded team (until we are seeded ourselves) and another team from Europe. Okay, there’s a chance this time around of drawing Spain and Italy (and throw in Russia or the Ivory Coast for good measure). There’s also a chance of drawing Switzerland and B&H, like I did in my last simulation. And there’s a chance we only get one perennial power, seeded or not.

  2. Next standings simulation much better (i’ll stop after this):

    USA 2 0 1 5 4 1
    Chile 1 2 0 4 1 3
    Greece* 1 1 1 2 3 -1
    Swit’land 0 1 2 1 4 -3

    • The Swiss are everyone’s dream seed draw. Best case scenario is the Swiss, an upset UEFA playoff winner, and one of the weaker African sides (assuming the regions are allocated as we expect).

  3. Standings simulator for the group my simulation produced:

    Spain 2 0 1 4 3 1
    Côte d’Ivoire* 2 0 1 3 1 2
    Portugal* 2 0 1 2 1 1
    USA 0 3 0 0 3 2 6 -4


  4. Honst question… Why do the FIFA rankings discount wins in what they consider as the lesser confederations (the “C-Factor”)? Isn’t the strength of schedule issue already considered by the multiplier for the relative FIFA ranks of the specfic 2 teams playing (the “T-factor”)? Strikes me the C-factor is double counting…

    If you take the US’s score and divide by the 0.88 muliple they use on our results, you get 1182, which would put us 4th and quite well seeded, thank you. If you look at the two 20, only USA (#13) and Ivory Coast (#17) are outside of UEFA and CONMEBOL.

    I’m sure there is a logic to it — be pleased to know what it is (other than THE MAN keeping us down…)

    • The region factor to me is completely absurd. It’s not just double counting – it inflates wins against weak teams from strong regions and deflates wins against strong teams from weak regions. And it keeps the rich rich and the poor poor, since your schedule will always be tilted towards teams from your own region. I just can’t see any justification for it.

    • Uuuuh…last time we were in a competitive match against both; we beat Spain 2-0 and were up 2-0 on Brazil. Not saying it’s likely to happen again, but it is possible.

    • I think the winner and runner up from the previous World Cup should be seeded. The fact that you can have the Netherlands and Spain in a group seems crazy.

  5. Klinsmann beat me to it…. but here I go anyways…

    I believe the exclusion of Netherlands, Italy, France, England as seeded teams will end up causing four (4) groups of death.

    Power houses Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany as well as the “new” power houses (according to FIFA) Colombia, Switzerland, Uruguay, Belgium could fail to get out group play if they are drawn with any of the unseeded Euro teams listed above plus a strong second tier group team known for causing wreck in group play ie, Ivory Coast, USA, Ghana, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Russia, Portugal.

    It is almost a trend for Italy, Spain, Argentina start group play very slowly. The key for the US and Klinsmann -if drawn with them- will be to be extremely prepared and be ready to play as if their first group game is their “last” game, a draw or a win is a must.

    On a separate note, why is Uruguay (we know they will qualify) seeded when Ecuador, Chile finished ahead of them in CONMEBOL region? I know the frauds at FIFA never made any sense.

    • they won copa america so i’m sure that counts heavily in their favor but i completely understand your point. kinda seems ridiculous that a team going through playoffs would then be seeded

  6. It is what it is. Nothing to do but wait on the draw. Advancing out of group will be a challenge, no matter what teams we draw. Sure, we can get screwed. So can anyone else. Groups of death are nothing new, and the impact of luck in a tournament is nothing new, either. The thing is, we could conceivably advance out of a group of death; and we could fall on our swords in an ‘easy’ group, like we almost did four years ago. Remember that? If not for a little last minute heroics, we don’t win the group and don’t advance to knockouts.

  7. There is a way to guarantee that there won’t be a Group Of Death. Use a method something like what kids do to pick teams on a playground.

    Have all 32 teams have an anonymous vote on who they think the top 8 teams are. Then those 8 teams take turns picking which team they want to be in their group.

    Not only would this method be highly unlikely to produce a group of death, but it radically increases the chances that something close to the best 16 teams qualify for the elimination playoff round.

    Of course that doesn’t take into account that FIFA might not actually want the best teams to advance, wanting a few underdogs to advance too because it is “the world’s game”.

    • Easiest I got: Colombia, USA, Cameroon, Croatia and Switzerland, USA, Ecuador, Greece.

      The nightmare draws I got: Germany, USA, Ivory Coast, Italy; Argentina, USA, Russia, Netherlands; and Spain, USA, Chile, Italy (among many others, there are going to be intense groups in this World Cup.

      • I just have feeling we’re going to draw Germany and then the other 2 will be someone like Cameroon, and Croatia.

  8. Holly molly, we have some knuckle-heads here. The other South American teams despite playing in Brazil do not have a distinct advantage. They have about as much an advantage as we would playing the World Cup in Mexico. Do you really think Brazil is going to support Argentina or Uruguay over the U.S.? If you do, you are a nuts The only thing is that it is easier for other South Americans to get to Brazil and support their side. This is nothing new for the U.S. Quit being meat-heads and forget about that silly simulator. It means nothing. When the draw comes, we will know. The U.S. will get out of its group. By the way, Mexico sucks!!!!!!!!!!! USA Ole!!!!!!!

  9. I will try my hand at another theory…….let’s try this one. Each pot has a guaranteed amount of teams from each confederation. To fill these spots, FIFA uses results as the #1 factor, and uses the FIFA rankings as the secondary factory. For instance

    Pot 1:

    5 UEFA (Must win World Cup qualifying group, then based on FIFA Rankings. Top 5 ranked UEFA teams that won their group). Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands
    2 CONMEBOL (Top 2 teams in CONMEBOL final qualifying table….in this case, Brazil gets a spot as the host). Brazil, Argentina
    1 CAF (Top ranked FIFA team that qualifies). Ivory Coast

    Pot 2:

    3 UEFA (Must win World Cup Qualifying Group, then based on FIFA Rankings. Next 3 ranked UEFA teams that won their group). Italy, England, Bosnia
    2 CONMEBOL (Next 2 teams in CONMEBOL final qualifying table). Colombia, Chile
    1 CAF (2nd ranked FIFA team that qualifies). Ghana
    2 CONCACAF (Top 2 teams in CONCACAF final qualifying table). USA, Costa Rica

    Pot 3:

    3 UEFA (Worst FIFA ranked team that won its group, and top 2 ranked UEFA playoff winners). Russia, Portugal, Greece
    2 AFC (Teams that won its group in AFC qualifying group). Japan, Iran
    1 CONMEBOL (Next team in CONMEBOL final qualifying table). Ecuador
    2 CAF (3rd and 4th ranked CAF teams that qualify). Nigeria, Algeria

    Pot 4:

    2 UEFA (Last two ranked UEFA playoff winners). Croatia, Ukraine
    2 AFC (1st and 2nd ranked AFC teams that qualified, but did not win their qualifying group). South Korea, Australia
    1 CONMEBOL (CONMEBOL playoff winner). Uruguay
    1 CAF (5th ranked CAF team that qualifies). Tunisia
    2 CONCACAF (3rd place team, and CONCACAF playoff winner). Honduras, Mexico

    In my opinion, this method has many positives. First, it puts a lot of emphasis on winning a group, or at least, finishing near the top of your qualifying group. Using Concacaf and Conmebol as examples…..this will all but eliminate any “meaningless” games, as there will be jockeying for position throughout the whole campaign. In Concacaf, games would matter all the way through. In Concacaf, finishing 2nd vs. finishing 3rd would be colossal. Same with Conmebol. The difference between finishing 4th and finishing 5th would be massive. Teams would play hard all the way through. Same with AFC. Winning your group would be huge. In Uefa, you would get penalized for not winning your group. If you have to go the playoff route, even if you are a highly ranked team, you still are pushed back to pots 3 and 4. Same with Conmebol. If you finish in the playoff spot, you have to be placed in pot 4. I have a lot of respect for Uruguay, but it doesn’t seem right that a team that has to go through a playoff, is going to end up getting a seed in 2014.

    So, using this method, here is how the groups might come out (Using Fifa rankings just to have some kind of structure. Using the method of best team in pot 1, worst team in pot 2, best team in pot 3, worst team in pot 4 for Group A, and the same throughout…..while avoiding confederation conflicts).

    Group A: Spain, Costa Rica, Portugal, Australia
    Group B: Germany, Ghana, Greece, South Korea
    Group C: Argentina, Bosnia, Russia, Honduras
    Group D: Belgium, USA, Ecuador, Tunisia
    Group E: Switzerland, Chile, Algeria, Mexico
    Group F: Netherlands, England, Nigeria, Uruguay
    Group G: Brazil, Italy, Japan, Ukraine
    Group H: Ivory Coast, Colombia, Iran, Croatia

  10. My first three draws were bad. It is basically impossible for us to get a good draw because all the bad teams are in our group. We need to move to a system with all teams seeded. But FIFA are what they are and we are usually screwed

  11. The simple fact is; UEFA controls FIFA and will put out any seeding arrangements that suite UEFA. The US got hosed a few years ago when it looked like they would get a seeding ahead of Italy under the former seeding arrangements. UEFA (FIFA) stepped in and re-arranged the seeding for the World Cup, using seeding PLUS previous World Cup placings and Lo and behold, Italy got seeded and the US got hosed (Italy went on to win the WC)

    Seeding is especially important to UEFA teams in that the host is Brazil and SA and UEFA needs all the help it can get.

    The only break I can see the US getting and avoiding a group of death scenario is for FIFA to rank the CONCACAF federation above CAF (which, right now they are) and get into a pot with the unseeded SA and Euro teams in pot 2. Unlikely but maybe the soccer gosd may smile on the US.

    • CONCACAF above CAF? What planet are you living on?

      In 2006, the US got hosed not because it didn’t get seeded ahead of Italy, but because we lost 3-0 to the Czechs, and 2-1 to Ghana.

      • No, we Are ranked as a Confederation ABOVE CAF. This has happened in the last year and is due mainly with the teams like the US, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica moving up the rankings while CAF teams remained static or down. If indeed, FIFA uses confed rankings to assign teams to pots we stand a chance in being put into a higher pot. This is especially true if Mexico LOOSES to NZ, Concacaf would have a three member contingent and would fit quite nicely into the second (UEFA) pot.

        Seeding is everything in the WC. In the last WC when we won the group ( and won England’s seed) we had to play Ghana and then (had we won) Uruguay, These are teams that are well within our grasp of beating. England on the other hand, having finished second. (which would have been our position) had to face Germany and then Argentina!!

        Getting to the semi’s is a lot easier if you have a seed. Easier meaning you will not be paired with a team ranked above you until the semi’s. The US’s problem is that they could not beat the teams ranked bellow them.

        There is opportunity and there is execution. The US was given an opportunity but could not execute.

  12. The bottom line is: if you can’t do better than the third place in whatever group you are, then you are not good enough to contend for the world cup.

    • Well, pretty much but I think the point is you could create a group with Brazil, USA, Italy, Ghana where an Italy could end up finishing in 3rd place, yet if they made it to the knockout stage it is no stretch to think they could win it all.

      • Italy won the World Cup in 2006, yet they tied us (the last place team in the group) in the group stage. France (their opponent in the final who also almost won the WC) tied twice in the group stage and only won 1 game. Their groups weren’t as hard as the groups that could be drawn for 2014.

        Just because you can win the World Cup doesn’t mean you are going to be perfect in the groups, look at Spain who lost to Switzerland in group before going on to win the WC.

      • ? Then what possible group of death could there be????
        USA is the best team from our pot, and who do you put above Ghana? Russia, Chile?

        If not then I guess there can be no group of death.

        BTW When my in-laws went to Portugal this year people there were talking about how good the USA has gotten.

      • Foolishness. The World Cup favorite, a perennial powerhouse and favorite, one of the best second tier nations, and the USA as the on paper worst team in the group– who despite your notions is not seen as some pushover internationally. That’s absolutely a group of death.

  13. There’s two problems:
    #1 – The should seed everyone 1-32, (like the NCAA Basketball Tournament). So 1, 16, 17, 32 in one group; 2, 15, 18, 31 in another, etc; Just move a team down a seed if there’s someone from their confereration (or a second UEFA team) in a group already. Find the host, that’s Group A.

    So your Brazil 2014 Draw would be (assuming CAF 1st leg leaders/highest FIFA Ranking teams win playoffs)
    A: 5 BEL, 11 BRA, 23 GHA, 34 HON (AVG FIFA Ranking: 18.3)
    B: 6 URU, 13 USA, 23 SWE, 28 TUN (AVG 22.8)
    C: 7 SUI, 10 ENG, 22 MEX, 27 JAP (AVG 21.3)
    D: 8 ITA, 9 NED, 24 CRC, 25 NGR (AVG 20.0)
    E: 1 ESP, 16 BIH, 17 CIV, 57 AUS (AVG 22.8)
    F: 2 GER, 12 CHI, 18 CRO, 56 KOR (AVG 22.0)
    G: 3 ARG, 15 GRE, 19 RUS, 52 BFO (AVG 22.3)
    H: 4 COL, 14 POR, 20 UKR, 49 IRN (AVG 22.0)
    See how fair and balanced that is?

    #2 – The FIFA Rankings are rigged by the Region Multiplier.
    The exact same results are worth different point values based on which confederation you belong to. For example, if USA beats #1 Spain in a World Cup match, we’d get 2245 points. If anyone from UEFA/CONMEBOL beats #1 Spain in a World Cup match, they get 2388. That’s 143 points JUST because they are in UEFA/CONMEBOL.
    You don’t need a regional strength component, because opponent strength is already considered. Eliminate it. Then your FIFA ranks to seed with are actually fair as well.

    • That’s a very flawed plan JP. The NCAA tournament is a single elimination contest from day one with no group play. That makes you’re plan not feasible. I don’t have an answer but, as we all saw in SA 2010, we made it through a relatively easy group and what did it do for us? Immediate elimination at the hands of Ghana. Regardless of the draw, the most in form teams at the time (think France and Italy failures in 2010) will be the ones that make it through….

  14. So Klinsmann is unhappy that FIFA seeding does not favor his team? What have they done to deserve a seed? US soccer in Men’s football has never won anything. I repeat never won anything. Get that into your head. Win something then you’ll be considered (emphasis on considered) to be seeded. You want a seed so you can escape the top teams.

    • He’s not complaining about US not getting a seed. He is pointing out that while the whole point of a seeding system is to balance the groups, this time around they are almost guaranteed to end up very unbalanced. What’s really happening really isn’t “seeding” by any reasonable definition, it is distributing teams by geography and calling it seeding.

    • If you had read the article you’d see Klinsmann is actually taking the side of teams who have won something and have a history of success and in no way is saying US deserves a seed. Actually I believe Klinsmann has said he doesn’t even think the US deserves the ranking they have.

    • Jay. USA have won several gold cups, so please don’t say we have won nothing, because it’s just not true. No matter how hard you wanna think it is.

      • Gold Cups are our region’s to title. I know it ain’t no UEFA Cup but this is the region we live in. The more we put in stock with the Gold Cup, then maybe they’ll finally move it to a four year tourney and its importance will be that greater.

      • Lol. How cowardly to address this single comment instead of all the others that made you look foolish. Mexico fans…

    • Alright Mexico fan, congrats on making it to the playoffs courtesy of us. By not winning anything, do you mean everything besides the Gold Cup this year and World Cup Qualifying three cycles in a row?

  15. Since a lot of the discussion here is about the FIFA ranking system (as opposed to how it is used to determine seeding), out of curiosity, I compared the FIFA rankings to the Elo and SPI rankings. FIFA is heavily weighted toward historical results, and applies heavy-handed, subjective “correction factors” for confederation strength and the nature of the competition. Elo is based on past results, period. SPI tries to predict future performance. The three systems, starting with very different objectives, are remarkably in agreement.

    Of FIFA’s top 8, both Elo and SPI would drop Belgium (FIFA 5 -> Elo 14, SPI 11) and Switzerland (FIFA 7->Elo 16, SPI 20). In their places, both would sensibly move Brazil up to #1 from FIFA’s 11. Elo moves England up to 6 from FIFA’s 10, while SPI moves Chile up to 5, from FIFA’s 12.

    There is also not a lot of difference when one compares top-16. Elo would shove down Greece (from FIFA 15 to Elo 19) and Bosnia-Herzogovina (from FIFA 16 to Elo 23) in favor of France (21->12) and Sweden (25->15). SPI would shove down Switzerland (7->20), Portugal (14->19) and Greece (15->19) in favor of Russia (19->16), France (21->7) and Ecuador (22->12). USA is ranked 13, 12, 15 in the three systems.

    Similarities continue down through ranks 1-24.

    Overall, the differences can be considered within a normal “noise level” for any objective ranking system.

    The point is, it is not really the FIFA ranking system that is screwed up. Pretty much no matter what reasonable, quantitative system you design, you will end up with pretty much the same teams in the top 8, the top 16, and even the top 24, with occasional hiccups like Brazil and Switzerland.

    What role the rank should play in seeding is another matter.

  16. Everyone is hating on Switzerland, so I’m just going to list what they have done since Sept 2012

    7 wins. 3 draws, 0 losses in World Cup Qualifying

    beat Germany, Brazil, Croatia, Tunisia in friendlies

    drew with Netherlands and Greece in friendlies

    Only two loses to Argentina and Romania.

    Is this enough to deserve a seed? Don’t know, but that is a pretty nice resume.

    • Their group in UEFA WC qualification consisted of such powder puffs as Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus. Even Iceland has a playoff to possibly make it’s first World Cup. Switzerland should not be seeded over Netherlands, Italy, England, France.

  17. The thing that’s really irritating about the seeding process and draw is that FIFA places so much importance on FIFA rankings for the seeded teams only, but then cherry picks the pots irregardless of rankings, so as to avoid placing more than 2 teams from Europe and South America in the same groups. If they are using the rankings for seeded teams then Pot 2 should be made of teams ranked 9-16 and so on. This would be the fairest way. Then again, this is FIFA. Fair and FIFA don’t go together.

  18. Part of what keeps the world cup so special is not having it be completely seeded and thus biased against the minnows. It’d be a shame to remove any sense of randomness in the draw – the best stories are always the minnows taking down the mighty in the group stages. Senegal and the US in 02, Paraguay and Slovakia in 2010, these are almost always the highlights of the WQ for me, and would be less likely if we had a 1-32 seeding system, or even a 1-16 system as some people are suggesting.

    It’s funny that now that we’re becoming a better team we gripe about how it’s not fair for the “almost seeded” teams.

  19. if they seeded the first pot with FIFA #1-7+Host, second pot with the next best 8 teams and so on with the third and fourth; which in my opinion would be the most fair way, it would look like:

    pot 1: brazil, spain, germany, argentina, colombia, belgium, uruguay, switzerland
    pot 2: bosnia, greece, portugal, usa, chile, england, italy, netherlands
    pot 3: ivory coast, russia, iceland, france, ecuador, ghana, mexico, costa rica
    pot 4: cameroon, australia, south korea, iran, japan, honduras, nigeria, algeria

    so ya, i would say that we are getting screwed by the current system…

    • With all the talk about Mexico being down and having a awful Hex. With the current system it doesn’t even matter as they could get just as easy get a much better draw then us and make it through.

    • You could also have two seeds per group. One pot of the top 7 traditional powers + host, and a second pot of the next 8 top FIFA-ranked teams not in the first pot. Then do the rest of the draw by region as per the usual.

      On the other hand, drawing a group of death is part of World Cup tradition at this point, and FIFA might prefer to keep it that way. There ‘s more drama, more press, and any press is good press, etc.

    • Then you might have one group consisting of Brazil, Netherlands, France, and Nigeria, and another made up of Switzerland, USA, Iceland, Iran. Doesn’t seem to be well balanced, does it?

      Regardless of what system you use, you will always have groups that look strong and weak on paper. It just doesn’t matter.

  20. I don’t agree that previous WC results should factor into the pots. Past results shouldn’t matter as teams are always changing and improving/declining. I would like to see an improvement in the FIFA ranking system, which would see teams like Netherlands and Italy seeded and the Swiss not seeded. Maybe they should do a coaches poll or something like College Football.

    • coaches poll would be interesting however unlike ncaa football i doubt any national team managers ‘coaches’ watch more than 2-3 other nation’s games each break..

      the fifa rankings need to be cleaned up a bit (confederation rank?) and used more.

    • I agree, it’s nice to see team’s who are on the upswing get rewarded, regardless of past performance. How else will new nations ever rise above the others? Or do we want a system were teams are rewarded for past teams’ performances, which don’t affect the current team?

  21. The 2009 Confederations cup was a nightmare, as they usually are. We advanced in a group with Brazil, Italy, and Egypt. Then we beat the #1 ranked team, Spain, halting their winning streak. Before we knew it, we were 2 up against Brazil in the final before we collapsed.

    Bornstein, Spector, Demerit, and Onyewu were our back line for almost every game.

    Proof that the game of football is a game of chances.

  22. Whats kind of rough for us is being in the pot as Asia and not having the chance to get any of those teams in our group. We aren’t even for sure these are the teams that will be there so I see no reason to freak out.

  23. USA is a strongest team in the weakest pot. This is why there is a big possibility that we will get terrible group. It would be better if all 4 pots will be determined using FIFA rating.

    • Exactly, we don’t benefit at all from actually being good. A second rate European or African team benefits from being drawn with a Honduras or an Iran while avoiding the giants that missed out on seeds while we’re more likely than not to get a rough draw.

  24. The fact that Holland isn’t seeded is a joke and should replace Switzerland. Actually don’t have that much of a problem with Belgium and Colombia because they have deserved it with their play over the last year or too. However, Italy over Belgium might seem more ideal. Here’s hoping Switzerland gets Italy, Holland, or England (or even Portugal or France if they qualify) in their group. Who knows, maybe it will be more balanced than we think.

  25. Klinsmann has clearly been playing around with the draw simulator.

    I think we–as USA fans–need to accept that the chance of us advancing from a group is probably somewhere in the 15-25% range–at best based on the probabilities of a certain type of draw.

    • This is a great point. I don’t think many people have looked at USA group draw possibilities yet. All of the excitement and hope we’ve generated this year with a great run of form is going to get a MAJOR reality check when we get drawn into a group with Germany, Holland, & Chile. Where are we getting our points in that group?

      Best case scenario is we get Switzerland, Greece(?), and Burkina Faso (or Tunisia). Most of the possible group draws are really ugly. I’m super worried that we can play three great games and wind up with zero points.

      • We could beat or draw Chile 5 or 6 times out of 10. Germany or the Dutch? I’d say maybe 2 out of 10. We would need some serious luck in a group like that.

      • I think the US team is playing great and love what JK’s done. But Chile is a heavy favorite against us on paper in a non-friendly. They are very good and have been sharpened by the tough CONMEBOL qualifying campaign. Easily more talent than us.

    • It was arguably 50-50 before and is still 50-50. We have as much chance of being in an easy group as a group of death, and the U.S. probably is somewhere in the high teens in true rank, so with 16 advancing, pretty close to 50-50. Think back on recent history. We advanced last time, didn’t the time before, did the time before that. We’re a little deeper now, but our top 11 isn’t that much stronger than it was in 2002. 50-50.

      • It’s not 50/50. It’s not even close to 50/50.

        Since we are the best of the worst pot, we will get a bad draw.

        I just ran the simulator–these were the top teams I ended up with in our group in the first 8 draws.

        Germany, Argentina
        Brazil, Argentina
        Germany, Italy
        Spain, Italy
        Brazil, Italy, Russia
        Germany, Netherlands
        Spain, Netherlands

        We will not advance.

  26. Well, the real problem with this seeding mechanism is that it changes almost every cup. And I’m not saying we’re specifically targeted or anything, but it often seems we get the short end of that. For example, in seeding for 2006 they included prior 2 cups, so our poor 1998 performance was part of the evaluation. Then, in 2010, when we would have benefited from our good 2002 performance, it was pushed back to just the last cup performance. It just seems that they continually tinker with it. It would be nice if it could be consistent for a cup or two.

    • Absolutely agree Strider. Transparency is nonexistent and neither is continuity. From the WC continental rotations to the seeds you just mentioned. I’m glad that Gulati stood up and said that there’s no point in bidding for the ’26 WC when you never know what FIFA will change next. It’s absolutely ridiculous! They need to be audited or investigated.

    • It seems more like FIFA decides what the seeds will be and then comes up with a formula that will seed those teams. It’d be nice to see FIFA announce the seeding formula before World Cup qualifying starts, instead of at the same time as the seeds, but that’s never going to happen with Blatter.

  27. overheard in FIFA boardroom conference call in response to JK’s interview:

    “…Wahmbulance! HAH! Get it? Because, you need a motorwagon to hold all your babycry crying!”


    • My question is this: when the comments obviously come from a google translation, how hilarious must this page sound in another language? I mean “babycry crying” has got to be crybaby right? I just love the thought of inane adjectival phrases and the like interspersed with a perfectly fine sentence.

      Oh and to the commenter? They couldn’t hear anything over the cash registers chinging.

  28. I have less of a problem with the seeding of the top 8 than with not making a second pot of seeds. It seems to me the real issue is that if you seed the top 8 teams, you need to seed the next 8 as well. You don’t need to win your group, you just need to finish second to advance. So it seems far more important for balanced groups to actually seed that second line, and keep Top 16 teams like the USA and Chile away from Italy or the Netherlands.

  29. Wondowlowski will be seeded at the last minute and the Cinderella story of the World Cup. Paul the octopus will come back from the dead and will predict Wondowlowski to win it all. I’m so excited.

  30. FIFA does such an awful job of fixing these draws. There really is no justification to putting Switzerland in POT 1. There really is NONE AT ALL.

      • The fact that Uruguay HASN’T QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP, but is seeded shows how much those FIFA rankings are worth.

        For the record, I don’t think the US deserves to be in Pot 1, but all teams coming in should be seeded more appropriately, with minor provisions to make sure teams from the same conference aren’t playing each other in the group stage. Europe’s obviously an exception since 1 of every 3 teams is from UEFA.

    • One of the things I find funny is that people remember us beating Spain in the Confederations Cup as an indicator of how far we’ve come (vs. early 2000’s), but that no one wants to give Switzerland credit for doing the same last world cup. They were the only team to beat the winners, the clear number 1 team in the world. They a very good team. Top 8, debatable. But definitely not far out of that group.

      • I think Switzerland is probably in the 16-25 range. Generally everyone agrees the FIFA rankings are flawed, and by relying on them for World Cup seeding, the draw is also flawed. We’re seeing proof with Swiss and lesser so with Uruguay.

      • Oh, and I say lesser so with Uruguay because they won their group and made it to the semifinal in South Africa 2010, and won their confederation’s championship last time it was held for the Copa America 2011. Generally I see Uruguay underperforming because their defense will be exposed, and their midfield will struggle to get Cavani and Suarez the ball.

  31. JK is coming to the realization that there may not be much he could do with a Brazil, Netherlands, Ghana type of a draw….

    the only chance the U.S. has to upend the order is for Jordan to win. 5 Asian, 5 African, 2 South American and 4 CONCACAF teams don’t make for an easy geographic split… maybe, maybe the U.S. gets bumped into the African/South American bucket by virtue of a higher FIFA ranking

    all of this is a tiny probability to begin with… Spain, France and Ivory Coast here we come!

    • I’d take that draw given no South American teams playing close to home and these those teams are less likely to put up gaudy goal differential numbers. Tough groups usually come down to goal differential, and I think we can hang in difficult low scoring games. Would like to avoid Brazil and Germany for the GD reason though.

  32. JK was probably flipping out (as I was) after playing with the group stage draw simulator 1,000+ times over the weekend. From Group of Death to Groups of Despair, this WC is gonna be a tough one for anyone.

  33. 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?’ – I cant say I agree with Klinsmann. How you did in the past is how you did in the past. You have to continue to prove yourself and get results. Officials generally give the big soccer nations an advantage with their calls anyway.

    • I agree. If the US was in a better position to get a seed, Klinsmann’s argument is the one that would be used to keep us out.

      • I actually don’t mind at all that the seedings are done purely by FIFA ranking. The problem is that FIFA’s seeding formula has changed almost every World Cup, and only gets announced at the same time as the seeds. It just looks like Calvinball.

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