Posted December 06, 2013

Media sampling around the world suggests foreign powers hope to avoid USA

2014 World Cup, Brian Straus, FIFA World Cup, International Soccer, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Clint Dempsey, Steven Gerrard

Clint Dempsey and the USA provided stiff competition for Steven Gerrard and England in the 2010 World Cup. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Four years ago, British tabloids pegged the USA as a cakewalk. That isn't the case ahead of the World Cup draw.

Four years ago, British tabloids pegged the USA as a cakewalk. That isn’t the case ahead of the World Cup draw.

Four years ago, it was EASY – as in England, Algeria, Slovenia and the Yanks.

According to The Sun, which was responsible for that notorious acrostic, Group C at the World Cup in South Africa was going to be the “Best English group since the Beatles.”

To the Three Lions’ credit, they did advance, finishing second behind the U.S. with a win and two draws. But as that record suggests, it was far from EASY.

The Sun certainly doesn’t represent all media, not by a long shot, and that infamous cover was as much a slight against Algeria and Slovenia as the U.S. But EASY resonated here because it taps into the worry that the sport’s traditional powers don’t really take American soccer seriously – that the Yanks are a World Cup walkover.

As Friday’s 2014 World Cup draw in Bahia looms, a quick survey of the press from some of those powers reveals a far different tone. No one is looking forward to playing coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, and, in fact, some regard a first-round quartet that includes the U.S. as the worst-case scenario.

Call it what you will – “Grupo de la Muerte” or “Poule des Doods”, etc. – there are plenty of people beyond U.S. borders steeling themselves for a group of death. The upcoming World Cup will be the deepest 32-team event ever, with all eight former champions present, a powerhouse host, no Cinderellas and only one debutant (Bosnia-Herzegovina, ranked 21st in the world).

The decision to use only the FIFA ranking to determine the seeds (other than Brazil) has left the likes of Italy, the Netherlands and France among the unseeded teams whose pairing with a World Cup favorite would create an instant “Girone di Ferro” (that’s Italian).

The relief theoretically is supposed to come from Pot 3, which contains the CONCACAF and Asian entrants. But on the heels of its first-place group finish in 2010 and a scintillating 2013, the 14th-ranked U.S. arguably is the best side in that pot. The Americans are guaranteed to make a given group of death even deadlier.

U.S. supporters may shudder at the thought of seeing their team drawn with Brazil, the Netherlands and France in the group stage. But fans and media from those nations will be far from thrilled to see the U.S. in their group. Their recent record helps bolster the Americans’ profile, but history also suggests that the Yanks aren’t overawed by the big names. They’ve given the favorites a run for their World Cup money.

In 1990, Bob Gansler’s inexperienced side was a tougher out than expected during a 1-0 loss to Italy in Rome. Four years later, the U.S. stunned highly-regarded Colombia, 2-1, at the Rose Bowl. In 2002, coach Bruce Arena’s team beat favored Portugal and very well could have taken Germany to extra time in the quarterfinals. In ’06, the U.S. drew eventual champion Italy and in 2010, Bob Bradley’s squad shared the points with England.

Those powers are getting the picture.

GALLERY: World Cup balls through the years

The Guardian said Tuesday that England’s “chances of a tough draw” rose when FIFA announced the pots. The paper chose a potential quartet of Brazil, Italy and the U.S. to illustrate the daunting possibilities. The Daily Mail agreed with that worst-case quartet, while The Telegraph’s “nightmare draw” is Brazil, France and the U.S.

The French media seems to dread Mexico, despite El Tri’s miserable 2013, while De Volkskrant said reigning Asian champion Japan is the Pot 3 team destined to give the Dutch the most trouble. That’s understandable, considering the Nov. 16 exhibition between the teams that ended, 2-2.

But the Italians and the Germans, both of whom have lost friendlies to Klinsmann’s U.S., are wary of the Americans. RAI’s group of death includes Brazil, France and either the U.S. or Mexico, and La Repubblica hopes the Azzuri avoids the U.S. and Japan.

Germany never seems to have much trouble negotiating the group stage, and the Südwest Presse said the second-ranked Die Mannschaft should expect “nothing dramatic” next summer. However, the newspaper conglomerate did mention England, Chile and the U.S. as a group that could give the Germans more difficulty. N-tv, a CNN affiliate, said both the U.S. and Mexico would “threaten” Die Mannschaft, while GQ Germany wrote that a “Todesgruppe” featuring Italy, Ivory Coast and the U.S. would present “a very difficult task.”

Spanish soccer statistician Alexis Martín Tamayo, an ESPN and Diario AS contributor, figures that the U.S. is the toughest Pot 3 draw. The most brutal World Cup group he could concoct was Brazil-Italy-Netherlands-U.S.

WAHL: Setting the scene in Brazil before the World Cup draw

Outside Europe, second-round hopefuls likely are far more concerned with landing in a group with two European powers. But the AP in Argentina said both the U.S. and Mexico could factor into a “worst scenario” draw, while a match-up with either Honduras or Costa Rica was “favorable.” Uruguay’s El Observador listed its group of death as Netherlands, France and the U.S.

It’s worth noting that Ghanaian news site Joy Online conjured two groups of death. One contained Brazil, Portugal and Mexico and the other Spain, England and Japan. After eliminating the U.S. in the past two World Cups, the Black Stars might be the only team that doesn’t fear the Americans on some level. While the U.S. national team’s reputation may be rising, the most powerful message is sent on the field.

56 comments
RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Well if we're being honest, they're only listing the USA as being top of its pot.  Big whoop.  They have to include the USA because they have to get someone from that pot.  :( 

josebier
josebier

Honestly why not wait until the groups have been created to talk about this crap? 

bjarr99
bjarr99

I fail to understand how so many people see that the US, having never won or even come close to winning the World Cup, is an embarrassment in the soccer/futbol world.  Seven consecutive WC's?  Granted it's CONCACAF but there is something to be said for being a consistently good (not always great) team.  I'm glad to see a little respect in the world press.  Maybe it's just Americans that can't tolerate a team that hasn't produced a #1.  But that would be most of the world as well.  USA! 

Baconpizza
Baconpizza

Klinsmann's been there before and will have this U.S. team ready to rock.  I believe they will do some damage in this tournament.

x72
x72

"Yay soccer, can't wait"

- Weaklings & losers worldwide

black
black

Pot 1 > Pot 4 > Pot 2 > Pot3 (USA pot)

USA is on the easiest pot. Every team from this pot is the favorite to return home from the group stage.

Its not about the other teams to avoid the usa but the usa to avoid the other teams. 


People think that usa can win the World cup. No, its gonna be a miracle if something like that happens. Before 4 years usa team did an amazing job and none was happy about that in usa. People should be more patient and more realistic. Rome wasnt built in a day


PS. sun is a joke.

x72
x72

soccer lol, a game for sissy's.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Saying the US is the best team in Pot 3 is like saying the Boston Celtics are the best team in the NBA Atlantic (at 8-12). It may be true bit not so impressive as it sounds. The realistic goal of the USMNT remains getting out of the group. They may play hard and are unintimidated, but they still don't match up to the best. I wish for success for us, but it's hard to see getting through any knockout round.

As for our friends across the pond, I don't see much good in their future either. England is never as good as they think they are (1966 excepted), and if in a tough group may do no better than the US.

tootallgoof
tootallgoof

I agree with the story.   If you want an easy group, you want to avoid the US from their pot.  The US should be the best team in their pot.  Just the like US wants to avoid the Netherlands and some other teams.   There is no difference.

MrGameandShow
MrGameandShow

Suprisingly Grant Wahl is not behind this story. He must have put them in Brian's ear.  I get that you guys are being patriotic and writing jinogoistic story.  But try writing some realistic stuff about the US team that is current.

Smoothkaos
Smoothkaos

What all of these international papers are telling me is this: the only people not respecting the USMNT is the FANS around the world. Next time somebody from another country gets into an argument about why the USMNT sucks blah blah blah just starting replying with these newspapers and teams that don't want to play us.  'Nuff said in my book.  

wwsiralexd
wwsiralexd

I see the distance traveling will hurt the Euro teams more.

morejunk
morejunk

This is more about bumps in the night than actual performance on the pitch.

The French fear the Mexicans?  More to do with the years Mexico actually fielded a good side.  One of those years however is not 2013.

I can understand why the British don't want the US in their group.  We suck in similar ways that usually makes for a closer game than either side wants but I doubt the Germans, Brazilians, Spanish or Italians are lying awake at night over whether the US or UK emerges from that group.  I do love the n-tv quote about the US being a "difficult task".  The only way the US is going to pose a threat to the Germans is if we bring our drones with us to rain gun fire down on the pitch while the Germans are doing their warm up.

"U.S. is the toughest Pot 3 draw"  That's cute.  It true simply because pot 3 is the US and bunch Asian scrub teams.

And before the trolls, flamers and haters show up... I'm American, love the US, wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  But relative to the other countries, we don't have a very good side this World Cup.  It'll be okay though.  Just need to head to South America and win there, then we'll be the real deal.

Blinker
Blinker

I know we still receive little respect outside our country in the sport.  We are getting better and it would serve other nations to be cautious wanting to play the USA instead of what some consider an easy opponent in the World Cup.  Then again are there any REALLY easy teams at this stage.  Go into any game over confident and see what may happen.  GO USA USA USA USA

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

CNNSI is now citing n-tv and GQ as even remotely authoritative sources.  Well then...

bsoccer17
bsoccer17

I'd love to see Lebron run 60 meters at a full sprint and then 40 meters at a full sprint and then 30 meters at a full sprint. He would weigh 80 pounds less if h played soccer. Can baseball players even run? They probably ruin 10 meters in 1 game, if they get a hit.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@bjarr99 You're right, it's no embarrassment. The  best athletes in America play football, basketball, and baseball. Soccer is a distant third. Until that changes we are very unlikely to seriously compete against the rest of the world where, in virtually every other country, soccer is essentially the ONLY sport.  

bsoccer17
bsoccer17

Let's see, the other options are American pig skin ball(can't play that cause I value my brain and I am not fat enough), baseball, (I like to run more than 100 yards each game while playing and I am way to athletic) or basketball(I am too short at 6'1'). There is only one choice my friends.

RickPotts
RickPotts

@x72 Glad you could stop masturbating and beating your dog long enough to post that wonderful tidbit of wisdom from your pea sized brain.

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Uh-oh, poor x72 (I'm guessing that's his IQ?), sounds like you needed attention tonight, didn't you?  Poor little kid.  Feeling threatened by the world's most popular sport?  The USA's fastest growing Pro sport?  It's okay.  We'll be fine even without your feeble intellect cheering it on.  :)   Now go play in your sandbox, mommy will come get you at bedtime.  ;)

cord u
cord u

@x72 

Wow. What genius. Go pat yourself on the back . ..

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

In 1980's Winter Olympics, a team of unheralded college kids knocked off one of the greatest hockey teams to ever play the sport in the Olympics.  Herb Brooks US team notoriously defeated the Russians with the closing lines by the announcers being the infamous, "Do you believe in miracles?  YES!  YES!!"


Smoke on that next time you think it's "impossible" for the USA to win it all.  ;)


I agree that it would and could and should be unlikely, but it was equally unlikely a few years back when the USA made a stunning turnaround in the Confederations Cup and shocked the world by defeating the Spainards and nearly beating the Brazilians in a game where the USA actually attacked the Brazilians rather than bunkering down.  ;)

bsoccer17
bsoccer17

probably a NFL fan, a game for murders, rapists, drug dealers, wanna be rappers and not very smart people.

bserious
bserious

@x72 I generally don't like seeing people reply to trolls, and avoid it myself, but I have to ask, how old and out of touch does a person sound when he/she uses a word like sissy?

RickPotts
RickPotts

@x72 Sissy's?  Really? What rock did you crawl out from under? Ignorant and inbred is no way to go through life.  Take a shower, clean off all the Natty Bo cans on your coffee table and for god sake crack a book every once in a while.  Frankly I'm surprised you could "figer out the interweb".  Have blissfully ignorant life, tool!

AdamCsor
AdamCsor

@x72 I'll never understand why people choose to sound like Glenn Beck.  Odd.

JohnG1
JohnG1

@Rickapolis Exactly. I don't think Brazil or Spain is worried about the US. I'm sure they'd rather get an even *easier* CONCACAF team if they could, but I imagine they're much more concerned about one of the unseeded traditional power UEFA teams (by which, I'm referring to the Netherlands and Italy, not England) ending up in their group.

JohnG1
JohnG1

There's a big difference. Somehow, you've basically equated The Netherlands with the US in terms of danger to top teams. The Netherlands could win the whole thing (they made it all the way to the finals last time). The US will be lucky to win a knockout game. If you're a seeded team, you're *much* more worried about The Netherlands than the US. Not debatable. Obviously, these teams would rather get an even *easier* CONCACAF/AFC team than the US, but if they're facing a choice between the US and Croatia or The Netherlands and Honduras, they'd take the first scenario every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

positivewins
positivewins

@MrGameandShow Did you read this article?  It quotes the media from other countries regarding foreign teams views of the US.  That's the opposite of "jingoistic."

DSmithy3211
DSmithy3211

@Smoothkaos And they would laugh at your extrapolation of "USMNT is the best team in Pot 3" to "USMNT doesn't suck." 

Not that the latter isn't true.  But all the former means in that the USMNT is better than Mexico, Japan, and the rest of CONCACAF/Asia.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

@wwsiralexd The travel isn't all that bad, considering they get there and stay there, not travel back home between games.

Smoothkaos
Smoothkaos

@wwsiralexd Acually not so much.  Any overseas travelling is hell and the only teams that will not be affected are the CONMEBOL teams. That's just one of the reasons why their teams are so heavily favored not to mention that they're just as talented as UEFA teams.

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

MoreJunk - It sounds like you really don't know much about our national team or the sport.  That's okay, keep learning and you'll understand that we actually are quite competitive this year and can definitely do some damage with the right situations and opponents.  No one should think we're a top-8 team but upsets can and do happen every World Cup.  Ignoring that proves only that you're not very intelligent or well-read about the sport. 

John H
John H

@morejunk British? UK? It's just England; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland didn't qualify.

Smoothkaos
Smoothkaos

@morejunk We can stand toe to toe with any country as long as the ref swallows his/her whistle and lets play flow because other teams are more finesse than the brute our side is. We have the ability but our skill class on the ball and passing just isn't up to par as the other teams. I'm a huge Sporting KC fan but hate the way they play because they take the beauty out of the game and for the most part that's just the way MLS and our players perform. Just watch BPL games and then watch MLS games lol  Night and day

MrGameandShow
MrGameandShow

@DSmithy3211 Just another annoying attempt by CNNSI to try and make it seem like US team seem bigger than what they are....guessing its Grant Wahl..

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

I laughed at the part where you said, "The best US athletes play....and baseball."   TOO FUNNY!


Nothing like fat guys throwing a ball.  LOL

bserious
bserious

@bsoccer17 oh great, another post on the same level as x72's, this is what happens when I break my rule of never replying to trolls, it just encourages more trolls.  But since I already started, I might as well mention, it's probably just because i follow soccer closer than other sports, but when I hear the phrase wanna be rapper, the first name that comes to mind is Clint Dempsey.  And while I may follow soccer closer than other sports, I like a lot of sports, including so called "American sports", like the NFL, and others like rugby. One theme I hear more and more lately is broadcasters or fans trying to convince others why their particular sport is the the bestest, or the "ultimate team game", or some other such nonsense.  It's akin to trying to convince people why a certain color or shade is "the best color ever!".  OK, we get it, you like that sport the most, I have no problem with that, but please spare us the attempts at some sort of logical proof of why one sport is above all others.  It all boils down to trying to convince others that your personal preference is superior to their personal preferences, and that everybody should just have the same preferences as you.  How boring would the world be if every person had the same preferences.  It'd be like every soccer team on the planet playing the exact same formation and style.  No thanks, I like a little variety in my world.

JoelHardman
JoelHardman

@AdamCsor @x72 Why is there always one person on soccer articles who feels the need to post disparaging comments?  I'm sure x72 is an NFL running back who moonlights as a UFC fighter. /s 

MrGameandShow
MrGameandShow

@positivewins Nah, just propaganda attempting to make people revere the US. US is an alright team. But not the greatest on the big stage. I wish these writers stop trying to pump peoples heads with that. Just be truthful.

morejunk
morejunk

@Smoothkaos @morejunk  

You've hit on another reason why the US isn't very good... we play futball like it's football.  Smash mouth football is great when you're playing the Raiders but it's a good way to draw a mountain of yellow cards (and a red card or two) when you're playing Italy.  We have to conform to the game, not the other way around.

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Aww..he's just a little kid who's probably scared of the sport.  Probably lost a girlfriend to a more athletic, smarter, better-looking guy who starred in soccer while he was the towel and jock-strap washer for his high school's pee-wee football league.


He's just scared of the sport or probably jealous.  :)