The Next Best Thing to Being a World Cup Seed
Every fan of the US team has been hoping that the stars could align, the flipped coin could land on its edge and that somehow the US could be seeded in the World Cup draw. Being among those top eight seeds would make a huge difference and the path to the final 16 would be much easier.
Well, let’s face reality. That is not going to happen. If France and Argentina did not qualify for the World Cup Finals, there was an outside shot, but with Argentina in and France well on their way, it is time to put that fantasy back into cold storage for another four years. However, there is one possibility that would be just as good, if not better, than being among those top eight – having the host South Africa be a top seed and getting drawn into their group.
The odds are pretty high that the overlords at FIFA will make South Africa a top eight seed. They do not want to see the host country humiliated in this tournament, and while there may be no stopping that eventuality, FIFA probably wants to give them every opportunity to get out of their group. Presuming that is the case, the most important decision will come next week when the pots for the draw are determined.
Presuming that Uruguay finishes off Costa Rica, there will be three CONCACAF teams going to South Africa. Cross your finger and toes that FIFA decides to put the three CONCACAF teams in with the five teams from Africa. If they do that, it means that one of the three CONCACAF teams will be drawn against South Africa because FIFA will not allow two African teams in the same group. That would give us a one in three chance of being drawn against South Africa, which is a lot better chance than the one in eight odds we would normally face. In fact, if we get drawn against South Africa, our group would be as good as we could possibly hope for, seeded or not. We would be in a group with South Africa, one of the Asian or non-Argentina/Brazil CONMEBOL teams, and one of the non-seeded European teams. Not bad at all.
We will know much more next week when the pots are determined, and of course, the December 5 draw is as important to the US chances as finding someone with speed in the forward position. Much will depend on what happens when those ping pong balls are opened.