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Author Topic: World Cup Seeds Announced, Draw tomorrow
graywolfe
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Brazil, Germany (auto-seed as Host), England, Italy, Spain, France, Argentina and Mexico were announced as seeds to lead groups A-H (meaning they won't be forced to play one another). The US and Holland, finished just a point, and 2 points out of getting a seed although most rightfully believe that the seeding formula would have been manipulated to insure that only one Concacaf team was seeded.

The Pots are as follows:

• Pot One: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain

• Pot Two: Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador, Paraguay

• Pot Three: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine

• Pot Four: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, United States

• Special Pot: Serbia & Montenegro

The Us cannot be grouped with a team in it's pot, and must draw a team from Pot 1. THe Most likely scenario is a team from pot 1, a team from pot 2, and a team from pot 3 to help make up whatever group the US is a part of.

The Draw tomorrow cannot be underestimated, Groups of Death and Groups of life are a part of every World Cup. Four Years ago, France, Argentina, Nigeria, and Portugal crashed out early in part due to being drawn into extremely difficult groups, that in the case of France, and Portugal, they may have taken a lil lightly.

As a US fan you will be hoping for either a lightweight seed that poses the best chance for the US to earn points off of (erratic Italy, and Spain, declining France, possibly Germany), or to draw a team that is likely to roll everyone within it's group and not suffer a let down performance (teams the opposite of Italy, and Spain, teams more like England, and Brazil, and possibly a hungry Argentina desperate to erase bad memories of '02).

Following the #1 seed we are grouped with, we want to avoid Groups of death. To do this we'll have to avoid drawing one of the three (or four depending on whom you talk too) "Should have been seeded squads from Uefa", these teams are, Portugal, Holland, and the Czech Republic with both Ukraine, and Sweden representing teams that are also frightening.

Teams to avoid:
Portugal
Holland
Czech Republic
Sweden

Teams that aren't a terror but aren't easy:
Croatia
Ukraine

Teams to hope for:
Poland
Switzerland


Finally, we're essentially virtually certain of drawing a team from two. Pot two holds several debutante's from Africa (Africa has traditionally advanced Nigeria, Cameroon, S. Africa and North African teams, this time, all three Sub-Sahara African teams crashed out in qualifying), of the debutante's, Ivory Coast is feared due to their attacking prowess, and Ghana is feared for their creative midfield, both teams could use some work on the defensive end. Angola and Togo are both considered patsies, though Togo could surprise (having not played a single poor game in qualifying, and ousting '02 quartefinalist Senegal in the process). Tunisia is a veteran, but also a defensive counterattack minded team, not a huge threat, though their defensive tendencies could yield a surprise draw. Paraguay, a traditional second tier south american power, has a superior forward in Roque Santa Cruz, and is a solid if unspectacular team, Ecuador, a debutante in '02, is making their second straight appearance on the strength of an absolutely dominating record in games played at high altitude Quito. Ecuador is not terribly impressive when not playing at high altitude Quito, and while not an easy mark, is definitely beatable for the US. Australia, thrown in to make the group 8 deep, qualified for the first time since 1974. They beat a solid Uruguay team to get there in a playoff, and are coaches by one of the top 2 or 3 coaches in the world in Guus Hiddink, so while we could probably draw points off them, they aren't a team we'd necessairly hope for either.

Teams to avoid:
Ivory Coast
Ghana
Paraguay

Not easy, not too bad:
Tunisia
Togo
Ecuador
Australia

Teams to hope for:
Angola


Consensus hopes seem to be for a US group that reads:

France
Angola
Switzerland
USA

Nightmare Group:
England/or Brazil
Holland
Ivory Coast
USA

I'll list my favorites to advance after I see the draw tomorrow. Right Now I consider the US a top 15 team in the world, but the way the tournament is structured, the US could be grouped with two teams I rank in the top 5 in the world, that would mean virtually certain exit during the group stage, barring some good luck and health. Hopefully we have a great draw, tomorrow, and an incredible performance next June.

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RickyB
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We're screwed. Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana. Advancing from this group will be the most impressive thing Bruce Arena has EVER done - and that's saying a lot with a career like his.
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graywolfe
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Yes we are. Advancing while not be impossible, will be very, very difficult. We have to get at least one point from our games with Italy and the Czech's and hope for a very nice GD. Getting points off Italy won't be impossible, but would have been far easier if we got them first or last. Remember, we played them in a friendly (admittedly far from a World Cup game) in Italy back in February 2002 with a far inferior US squad and lost 0-1 due to a bogus non-call on a mugging Regis received (he was shoved down, an Italian then sped forward with the ball and scored, no whistle, 19 times out of 20 that would have been called), and because Donovan hit the post on a breakaway.

If we are to have any chance of advancing, Arena almost certainly will have to attack with his smaller and quicker players, and build a strong defense in the back with height and athleticism, Im think a defense of Dolo, Boca, Gooch and Gibbs in the back, with Mastro as D-Mid, and an attack that features GAM, Beasley, Donovan, Convey (doing wonderful at Reading), and possibly Reyna or McBride. Speed will be the key, we can't outmuscle Italy or the Czech's, but we have a very, very young and fast midfield if we start Donovan, Beasley, and Convey together.

Still, we're almost certainly screwed, and even if we advance, we get Brazil in the Round of 16 unless we win the group. We couldn't have had a worse draw (yes Argentina's Group C is as tough, if not tougher, but the pot structure meant there was only a 10% chance of landing with Brazil or Argentina, our chances of landing with Italy in that group of death was higher)and it's rather depressing that a team growing by leaps and bounds like ours, has just gotten so thoroughly screwed by the draw. We have dominated Concacaf since 2000: 7-2-1 against mexico with 14 goals for, and 3 against including a win at the QF's in '02, winning the qualifying group this year, and winning two of the past three Gold Cup championships and only losing a chance to win a third when Brazil beat us on a dubious (offsides) goal in extra time. Yet despite all this, not only did Mexico get a seed and we did not, for no apparent measurable reason, but also every team from Concacaf that advanced a long with us, despite being inferior, landed in a far easier group, Costa Rica landing in Germany's cake group, T&T landed in England's moderate group, and Mexico's group is cake beyond impressive Portugal.

Friday was not a good day for American soccer, let's just hope June 2006 proves to be a wonderful month for US soccer.

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vulture
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I'm not normally a big follower of soccer, but I think the US group is survivable. Italy will usually play better in big tournaments than their recent form might have you believe. The Czechs used to be a serious threat, but I get the impression they've lapsed a little, and the US should have a chance to beat them. You should beat Ghana. Two wins, or one win and 2 draws should get you through (unless three teams end up on the same result, which is unlikely, and then you worry about the goal difference). A draw agains tItaly is possible, but I think a win against the Czechs would be your best hope. Then as long as Italy don't lose to the Czechs, you are through.
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RickyB
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The Czechs have a very formidable team, with Juventus star Pavel Nedved and Chelsea keeper Peter Cheh, just to mention a couple. Ghana also has star power. Tough, tough group, and FIFA are complete a-holes for seeding Mexico ahead of the US.
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vulture
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Having just checked some recent rankings, I think I got the Czechs and Croats mixed up. The Croations were one of the best teams in Europe a few years ago, but have dropped back since then. The Czechs seem to be the best European team at the moment, according to Fifa.
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RickyB
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FIFA rankings are ludicrous. How on earth can the Czechs be ranked ahead of Holland, when Holland beat them twice in the WC qualifiers and finished 3 or 4 points ahead of them in the group?

Then again, this is the same FIFA that seeded Mexico ahead of the US, despite the fact that the record of the last ten official matches between the two reads 7-2-1 in favor of los gringos, including the last Gold Cup final AND a round of 16 match in the last WC, both of which were won by the US.

Still, the Czechs are definitely among the 3 best teams in Europe, 5 best in the world.

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Dutchie
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RickyB, I agree with you but the fifa rankings are very complicated. And Check! Rep has beaten us during Euro 2004, which weighs very heavy in the rankings, I think twice as much as standard, and WC-qualifiers I think 1.50 times. Still, I agree that beating them twice should account for something...

It was suggested on Dutch TV that the draw was arranged, because Lothar Mattheus drew the teams for the German team, and grabbed a ball but quickly dropped it, then grabbed a second ball .... Which leaves them with the lightest of light groups, and we ... we are so screwed!
F-ing Ivory Coast, Argentina and YugoslaviaMinor!!


What really killed us (every commentator suggested this, but nobody really re-calculated) that we didn't qualify for WC-Korea/japan 2002. And we got beaten, then, by those bloody Irish, which is a lower ranked team. I think the rankings are setup so that you gain less points when you beat a lower team than a higher team, which makes sense, but which also means that it is pretty hard to stay on top, which why Brazil is so good, because they never get extra points for beating a higher team, since they're no 1.

Fifa rankings take into account the type match, (friendly, WC, qualifier) but also the opponent (higher ranked or lower) and .... whatever. the end result is not intituitive and perhaps overly complicated, yet 'fair'. I kinda trust them.

You are most certainly screwed if the Checks have possesion of all their strikers and Nedved. There are no good US players even in England anymore.
That Nigerian kid was quite dissappointing during the WC football under-20s.

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Dutchie
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greywolfe said: " ....Convey (doing wonderful at Reading) ....,"

Grey, I do hope you understand that such a remark will be the source of 'polite' laughter everywhere in Europe or South-America. Maybe not in Africa(n players) but that's because they really don't give a **** who they tire down by running circles around them and maybe get rough with.
And maybe not even 'polite' laughter, maybe even hoots of laughter, with choking gasps ... [Wink]

[ December 12, 2005, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: Dutchie ]

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Dutchie
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With 'arranged' I meant 'fixed'. By the damn Germans, of course.
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graywolfe
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the E.L.O. rankings are more sensible, but still place too heavy a weight on results from a long time ago (France and Spain are far higher than they should be considering their performances in WC '02, Euro '04, and in qualifying). You can see them by scrolling down here:

http://www.eloratings.net/

[ December 13, 2005, 01:56 AM: Message edited by: graywolfe ]

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graywolfe
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quote:
Originally posted by Dutchie:
greywolfe said: " ....Convey (doing wonderful at Reading) ....,"

Grey, I do hope you understand that such a remark will be the source of 'polite' laughter everywhere in Europe or South-America. Maybe not in Africa(n players) but that's because they really don't give a **** who they tire down by running circles around them and maybe get rough with.
And maybe not even 'polite' laughter, maybe even hoots of laughter, with choking gasps ... [Wink]

People can laugh all the want, but the fact remains the US has the best conditioned team in the world (hell Klinsmann has brought American conditioning techniques to the German FA supposedly)a quick look at how the US kept up with S. Korea despite having a day less rest, when S. Korea ran Poland, Portugal, Italy and SPain (granted the fix was in) ragged. People can laugh all they want, I understand, we have a long way to go still, but we have a very, very fast midfield already and with Convey it's even faster, and that is something that just might be able to break Italy down and earn us a draw, a loss is obviously more likely, but our speed and fitness is why we have a puncher's chance, that and the relatively underappreciated talents of GAM, and Donovan and Beasley (not too mention Keller). Still I'd pick us to finish 3rd or 4th everytime, but I still think we have a chance.

Also I doubt Brazil would laugh at us, they're very familiar with us, having played us I believe three times under Arena. They've never beaten us by more than one goal under Arena and over the past 11 and a half years despite playing them numerous times. Something very few other international squads can say. The Climb from 10-20th in the world to a legit top 5-10 team will be much harder than climbing from 90th into the top 20 as we've done the past 15 years, but we're making headway, which is pretty amazing considering virtually all of our best athletes continue to pursue football or basketball over soccer.

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graywolfe
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quote:
Originally posted by Dutchie:
RickyB, I agree with you but the fifa rankings are very complicated. And Check! Rep has beaten us during Euro 2004, which weighs very heavy in the rankings, I think twice as much as standard, and WC-qualifiers I think 1.50 times. Still, I agree that beating them twice should account for something...

It was suggested on Dutch TV that the draw was arranged, because Lothar Mattheus drew the teams for the German team, and grabbed a ball but quickly dropped it, then grabbed a second ball .... Which leaves them with the lightest of light groups, and we ... we are so screwed!
F-ing Ivory Coast, Argentina and YugoslaviaMinor!!


What really killed us (every commentator suggested this, but nobody really re-calculated) that we didn't qualify for WC-Korea/japan 2002. And we got beaten, then, by those bloody Irish, which is a lower ranked team. I think the rankings are setup so that you gain less points when you beat a lower team than a higher team, which makes sense, but which also means that it is pretty hard to stay on top, which why Brazil is so good, because they never get extra points for beating a higher team, since they're no 1.

Fifa rankings take into account the type match, (friendly, WC, qualifier) but also the opponent (higher ranked or lower) and .... whatever. the end result is not intituitive and perhaps overly complicated, yet 'fair'. I kinda trust them.

You are most certainly screwed if the Checks have possesion of all their strikers and Nedved. There are no good US players even in England anymore.
That Nigerian kid was quite dissappointing during the WC football under-20s.

In regards to the Dutch, don't sweat it so much, you've got a wonderful team, if you play as well as you actually are, you'll advance, the problem you've got in my eyes is finishing runner up. Do that and you probably get Portugal, top the group and you likely get Mexico which isn't too bad and then the winner of probably Germany-Sweden/England in the QF's if you win the group. Not a bad road and doable for you guys.

As for the US, I don't think you know the squad very well:

Probable and potential starters in June

GK: Keller (Borussia Mongladbach)-one of the finest in germany right now

LB: Dolo (Hannover 96) excellent, if little

CB: Gooch (Standard Liegie-Belgium, ManU interested) Massive specimen, formidable.

CB: Boca (Fulham) Solid, great on set pieces

CB: Gibbs (Feyenord) Solid, competing with Boca for starting job, currently hurt.

RB: E. Lewis (Leeds) or Jonathan Spector (Man United, starting on loan at Charlton) Lewis is a wonderful crosser who normally plays on the left as a midfielder, Spector is young but highly thought of by Fergie.

MF: Reyna (Man City) highest rated EPL player through much of fall before going down yet again with injury.

MF: O'Brien (Den Haag) starter for Ajax before sustaining back to back injuries which wiped out virtually all of '03 and '04, and second half of '02.

MF: Beasley (PSV) Tremendous two way player, needs work on his finishing/shot, but wonderful workrate, I believe he lead PSV in scoring in the Champions League last year in their run to the semi-finals.

MF: Donovan (Formerly Leverkeusen, now L.A.) Didn't get on with coach at Bayer, back in US (to chagrin of many of us in US), lit up world cup with goals against Poland and Mexico, scored on a cross that bounced off back of Portuguese defender as well, and had a legit goal disallowed which was part of the reason we lost to Poland. Can vanish at times, but is in many ways the most gifted attacker in American History. Wonderful player that should show very well.

MF: Convey (Reading) Extremely fast athlete, wicked left footed shot, but accuracy problems in the past with his finishing. Had miserable year after his transfer to Tottenham fell through in summer of '03, but has been given MOM honors by fans many times supposedly this year, and been a revelation after a year of hard knocks with Reading.

F: McBride (Fulham) lead Fulham in scoring last two months of '04-'05 season, has looked good for much of this season if not great. A bit long in the tooth, aerail player than needs quality crosses, and to be set up to score, but is a tireless worker at winning headers, and ball winning.

F: GAM (Dallas, 5 mill bid by Benfica rejected)
The star in waiting alongside Adu, and Donovan if he was interested in going to Europe. Won I believe the Golden boot at WYC's in '03 after scoring 4 goals, and looking unstoppable if not for terrible finishing. Cleaned up finishing problems with Dallas in '04 season, earning co-league scoring champ honors and a call up to the national team, where he scored 8 goals in his first 8 games on the USMNT setting a record in the process. Exceedingly fast, gifted on the ball, and strong and physical, strong in the air and with the ball at the feet, and particularly at finding and exploiting weaknesses in defense. Sustained serious foot/toe injury in May which wiped out virtually all of his '05 season for Dallas and the US Nats, injury still a concern to fans, but he has reported that he's doing fine, and is well on his way to a full recovery.

We do not have the talent or skill of probably anyone in our group, but as Dutch fans should know, sometimes it isn't the best eleven players that win, but the best team (you guys certainly aren't starting your best eleven Dutch soccer players). The US has performed below it's talent level on virtually no occasions since Arena has arrived when it comes to the A team. This team always puts forth maximum effort and maximizes their abilities. Depending on the lineup, we could use a very strong in the back team, with loads of speed and attacking talent come June. We could surprise, we shouldn't advance, but the way our players play together, and the way our coach motivates, it could easily happen.

We'll see come June. I expect to see us go home after three games, but I wouldn't be surprised if we advanced either.

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graywolfe
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I should add that the definitive starters barring injury appear to be:

GK Keller
RB: Dolo
CB: Gooch

MF: Reyna*
MF: O'Brien*
MF: Donovan*
MF: Beasley

F: GAM
F: McBride

Reyna and O'Brien are notorious for getting hurt, Donovan is considered to be nearly equally adept playing at Forward (where he played in the World Cup in '02), and as an attacking midfielder spraying passes to GAM, McBride, and Beasley and trying to score himself so Bruce may shift him and his position depending upon the opponent (if he wants to bring in our very poor man's version of Roy Keane, Mastro, for instance).

Additionally, He has not officially settled on who to start at one of the center back positions, it appears to be a rotation between Boca, Berhalter (Mr. Black Cloud, disaster follows him wherever he goes), and Gibbs who is currently injured. At Left Back we have no true player having locked down the position, he's tried MLS scrubs there, Jonathan Spector of late, and MF's like Eddie Lewis in qualifyers recently and Bobby Convey back in in '03. It appears that he's settling in on starting Lewis there because he wants Lewis and his left footed cross on the field. However, if Spector shows radical improvement and development over the course of the year at Charlton he could easily become our Left Back.

Anyway, we are not a team you'd bet on to advance if you wanted low risk, low reward, but we've definitely got a punchers chance. Unlike Italy, we rarely play below are talent level and/or as less than the sum of our parts, could say the same about the Czech's who looked a bit iffy in qualifying, but it looks like they climbed their last mental hurdles in reaching and then performing so well at Euro '04, and at finally climbing over the home and home playoff hurdle.

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Dutchie
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Cobber, buddy, dude, as we say in Holland: these are not the guys you win the war with. AFAI see, the highest players are Beasley, very speedy, and Reyna, (Gosh! I thought he was dead already! He STILL plays?????)
Don't wanna diss you but none of your players are in any topclub, with maybe the exception of Beasly, but he's not playing so much.
Who's a starter for his club in your team? Not Gibbs , i think. All the clubs are middle clubs at best, PSV and FeyenOOrd exception, but there they aren't starters. I never heard of GAM the way we heard about Adu, so how impressive can he be? Admitted, Adu WAS boning a Dutch girl, but still.
O'brien, that's a shame. His club is last, or one before last, and I can't remember him playing a game.
Donovan, yes, he was good, a couple of years ago, hated him for that, but is he still good. Conflict with the coach, it aint a good sign (was it a Dutch coach?) if you're good you can conflict all you want, but then you still get a contract, so ...


As a complete novice to your team, I think you need to say goodbye to Arena. Promote him upwards. You need a new coach, Anglo or Northwest Euro coach. maybe the guy from Celtic. Not Brazilian or Latin. You, on paper, lack serious quality. Your strenght is team spirit and never say die and the Al Pacino's Inches speech mentality. I have never heard anyone typify Arena as a tactical genius, so my guess is you need one of those, if only as an assistent. But that would only 'politcally', no-step-on-toes workable solution. Get someone else for shock effect and tactical shyte. I mean, they can all run.

I'll be gladly be corrected on any of this, of course [Smile]

PS
And I don't think Brazilians will laugh at your TEAM, but that remark .... come now, just admit that that is funny! [Smile] Bloody Reading, where do they play? 3rd Div? Have a heart, cobber!

[ December 14, 2005, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: Dutchie ]

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Dutchie
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Can we say 'boning' here?
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