Today, the ping pong balls were drawn NBA Draft style, determining who will play who in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The drawing is seeded, with the 32 participating teams divided into 4 pots based on things like world rankings. The US was in Pot #2.
The US will be in Group C with England, Algeria, and Slovenia. That's not too bad of a draw. England are obviously elite, but in the round-robin group stage, you only need to finish 2nd in your group to advance to the next round. According to FIFA's rankings, the US is sitting pretty. England is ranked 9th in the world, Algeria 28th, and Slovenia 33rd. The US sits at 14th.
Here are all the groups, and a little bit of analysis.
South Africa (host), Mexico, Uruguay, France
This group is scary. Host teams have a huge advantage in these tournaments, Mexico is fierce, France is ranked 7th, and Uruguay 19th. No easy wins for anyone in this group. Hopefully Mexico will be embarrassed.
Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Most World Cup groups have a bitch, and South Korea will fill that role in Group B. Argentina and Greece will be the heavy favorites to advance, but Nigeria often put up a good fight.
England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia
Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
3-time Champions Germany have an interesting draw. Australia and Serbia are both solid, and although Ghana is ranked 37th in the world, they've surprised a lot of people before. Australia/Serbia should be the best match in this group.
Netherlands, Denmark, Cameroon, Japan
The Dutch are ranked 3rd in the world, Cameroon is ranked 11th, and Denmark always has a few talented stars. Japan will be bitched out of this group, with the Netherlands and Cameroon advancing.
Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
The 2006 Champions - Italy - have an easy draw here. Paraguay's ranked 30th in the world, Slovakia 34th, and New Zealand 77th. Look for Italy to win all 3 of their matches. And look for the team that finishes 2nd in this group to be throttled in the elimination rounds.
Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
One weird thing about the World Cup is how often countries that once owned other countries get to play each other. England and the US play. Spain plays Honduras and Chile. Germany plays Ghana. And Portugal plays Brazil in this group. Portugal barely qualified, but they're ranked 5th in the country. Mighty Brazil sits 2nd.
Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Spain, winners of the 2008 European Cup and #1 team in the world might have some trouble here. All three of their opponents are solid, and Honduras is capable of big surprises. Spain should qualify, but in a shock, they might not win this group.
Italy rides a very fortunate draw to the finals, before being crushed 3-1 by Germany.