The World Cup wish list 

December, 2, 2009
Now that the procedures for Friday's World Cup draw have (finally) been set, whom do the Americans want to see in the first round next June? Because the U.S. and CONCACAF's other two reps (Mexico and Honduras) have been placed in the same pot as the relatively weak Asian and Oceania teams (Australia, Japan, New Zealand, North Korea, South Korea) the chances of them getting even one cupcake foe in the first round are slim. Still, not all draws are created equal, and some scenarios would certainly be better than others. Below, we analyze each of the Yanks' possible group opponents in the three pots from which they'll be selected, from the most desirable matchup to the least. Here goes:


The key to the whole draw will be the second-tier teams from Europe. In 2006, the Yanks drew the talented, but aging Czechs for their first match, and never recovered. For convenience's sake, we'll break this Cup's Euro pot into subgroups: Nations Starting with S (Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland) and The Rest (Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal).

Overall, you want an S. You don't want to take chances on The Rest.
Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.