Tuesday, August 2, 2011

World Cup 2014: USA Men's Team Gets Highly Favorable Draw

Even though it's only 2011, preparation for World Cup 2014 qualification is already underway with new head coach Juergen Klinsmann taking the reins of the American team.  The entire roster is to be re-evaluated, an entirely new system of play has to be implemented, and there needs to be time for everyone to adjust.

That is why news of the USA schedule for qualification was so welcome when it was announced by FIFA over the weekend.  Along with Mexico (and a few other recently successful CONACAF teams), the United States won't have to play a qualifying match until the third round, in June of 2012.

That point is important because many other teams (like Canada and Panama) will have to begin qualification in September.  Had the U.S. team not been given a bye into the third round, it would have meant for some serious crunch time preparations to have a new squad ready in the next month.

The U.S. will be placed in Group A, along with Panama and and the teams that qualify from Group E (G (Grenada, Guatemala, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Belize) and Group F (Haiti, Antigua & Barbuda, Curacao, U.S. Virgin Islands).  The top two teams will advance from this group, and the U.S. is expected to be one of those teams.

The final round of qualification will begin in February of 2013 and run through October.  There will be six nations competing in this round, with the top three qualifying automatically for the World Cup and the fourth team having a play-in with a team from Oceania.

The path is clear and is not that rocky or uphill for the American squad.  In 2009, they barely surpassed Mexico to win the CONACAF group and get the #1 seed.  This time around, the only real unknown is whether the United States could place first or second coming out of the Group.  Mexico, with its young strong squad, is the favorite right now to come out on top, but let's first see what sort of magic that Klinsmann can perform.

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