In case you hadn’t heard, the greatest sporting event in the world is scheduled for the coming summer: the FIFA World Cup. Coming off a surprisingly strong showing in the last World Cup in 2002 (making it to the quarterfinals, where they outplayed Germany but didn’t get the win), the United States has earned some respect on the international scene and qualified easily for next summer’s tournament in Germany.
Friday FIFA held the World Cup draw, where the 32 teams were placed into one of eight groups (4 teams each for the mathematically challenged). The top two teams in each group advance to the elimination round. Unfortunately, the US drew arguably the toughest group (traditionally, the toughest group is given the auspicous moniker the “Group of Death”). It is the only group with three teams ranked in the top 12 in the world – our guys are ranked 9th and will play 2nd ranked Czech Republic, 12th ranked Italy, and Ghana, perhaps the strongest team out of Africa this time around. The good news, though, is that the American side is tough and that the other teams in the group have to be equally concerned about playing us. (Here is coach Bruce Arena’s take.)
Of course with FIFA there’s room for a good conspiracy theory. Many will note that host Germany and defending champion Brazil got the easiest draws. Well, no matter the draw, I can’t wait to watch.