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The Soccer Thread (Part III)

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Inky_Wretch, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. MN Matt

    MN Matt Member

    Only four teams (South Africa, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands) have locked their spots in for the World Cup so far.
  2. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys.

    Like I said, I am trying to learn all I can about soccer.

    It is funny, I used to rip soccer -- then my oldest son started playing a few years ago so I begrudgingly started to go to his games and then I discovered I sort of liked it but I didn't understand things like offsides and corner kick versus direct kick versus throw in.

    So now I know the rules and at some point last year, I realized my son was addicted to watching Fox Soccer Channel and other international matches and I started watching the Champion's league with him and I really enjoyed those games.

    And now I started watching these international matches and it seems like USA is just a frustrating team to watch because they are so up and down and inconsistent.

    I'm learning the game still, but I think I am to the point where I understand it well enough to know that our guys didn't play very well with a lead against Brazil.

    One thing that does drive me insane is, at my son's games (and he is 12 and started playing cup soccer two years ago, so the games are more competitive, or so I am told) the fans who scream "offside, offside" every time someone gets a break or is running free behind the defenders. Is it just me, or do a lot of parents just not understand that rule?
  3. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Lots of fans don't understand any rules in any sport.
  4. Pastor

    Pastor Active Member

    This tournament showed the best and worst of the Yanks. The Italy game showed how much heart the team has. The first Brazil game showed how the team can throw in a towel when it feels down. The Egypt game showed that, when their backs are to the wall, the US can put up a serious fight. The Spain game showed that when the US is on its game, it can defeat any team in the world. The Brazil game showed that the US cannot play for 45 minutes giving up space to one of the best teams in the world.

    I don’t know how the Yanks respond when they go to the Azteca. It will be an interesting game. (I was supposed to go, but I’ll be in Edinburgh instead which I can accept as a trade-off.)

    There is a lot the US can take home with confidence:
    1. The team is no longer completely dependent upon its number 1 starters. An injury or two won’t kill them. I mention this only because there were injuries going into the tournament before it started. Red cards during the tournament hurt because of those pre-tourney injuries.

    2. The young players are really coming along and stepping in nicely. We’ll see more from them during the Gold Cup.

    3. The team can finish during the run of play. They can even do it against the really, really good teams.

    4. The team can win on the road in neutral ground. They will be back in South Africa during the World Cup and will need to win there again next year.

    Qualification starts again in August. Here is the schedule:
    Aug 12 - US @ Mexico
    Sept 5 - US v. El Salvador (Location: Salt Lake City)
    Sept 9 - US @ Trinidad & Tobago
    Oct 10 - US @ Honduras
    Oct 14 - US v. Costa Rica (Location: Washington DC)

    Personally, I’ll be at the two remaining home games. Anyone else there is welcome to some of my beer.
  5. Pastor

    Pastor Active Member

    With the US kicking off on July 4th (rather fitting), who else is looking forward to seeing the young tandem of Holden and Adu pushing the ball forward to Davies?
  6. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    One last thing and I will get out of your thread/hair until there are some more big games to talk about (or I have some more questions)....

    How will they determine the "pools" in the World Cup?

    In other words, will the qualifying rounds and how teams finish determine what pools are? Or is at random or out of a hat or whatever or pre-determined based on what continents or group you qualify from and what place you finish?

    I ask because I think that a lot of USA's success will be determined by who they have to play in the pool play against and if they can make their road easier by doing better in the qualifiers.

    Oh and by the way, as per our discussion about jerseys a while back -- I ended up buying him a red Liverpool jersey.
  7. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    The top eight teams are seeded. They each get their own group.

    After that, pools are drawn randomly, but no more than 2 European nations can be in a group and no more than 1 from the other confederations.

    That's where you get the "Group Of Death" talk. There's usually one group that has four quality nations, though since the Cup went to 32 nations, it's less so than it was when 24 made it. Conversely, there's usually another group that's underwhelming, at least on paper.

    Of course, there's been conspiracy theories for years that FIFA fixes those draws. Could be, but who knows?
  8. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    *If his phone is working and it's not a monsoon.
  9. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Not quite.

    The way it worked last time, there were the eight seeded nations (England, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Mexico and Spain). Those were placed in each of the eight groups.

    The second "pot" of teams were the African teams, Australia and the two remaining South American teams. The third "pot" was eight of the remaining nine European teams. The fourth "pot" was the seven CONCACAF and Asian teams (Australia still being in Oceania at the time).

    There was also a special pot for Serbia and Montenegro. They were placed in a group, and then one of the seeded teams that WASN'T European got placed with them. Then that group got another European team and an African/Australian/South American team. (In the event, the group was Argentina, S&M, Holland and the Ivory Coast.)

    So you take one from each of those groups of teams, and that's a World Cup group. Essentially, each group would have a seeded team, a non-seeded European team, an African/South American/Australia team and a CONCACAF/Asian team.

    (Last time, you theoretically could have had a group of Mexico, Angola(!), Poland and Iran, of which only Mexico made the knockout stages. Or, you could have had Brazil, Australia, Holland and Costa Rica, which would have been much more intimidating. Though I checked, and there was no combination in which all four teams made it.)

    The thing is, the rules change slightly for each tournament. This time, for example, Australia are in the Asian qualifying group. So no one knows yet how FIFA will allocate the teams. There'll be 8 seeded teams again, and there'll be a pot of 8 European teams (I assume, anyway). But we won't know until FIFA announces it whether the other pots will be, for example, African/CONCACAF and South American/Asian or some other combination. And it'll vary depending on who gets the seeds. If there were, for some reason, seven seeded European teams, then there wouldn't be eight more to form their own pot.

    And bear in mind that there are "half-spots" assigned in the qualification process. CONCACAF gets "3 1/2" spots. South America gets "4 1/2." The "half-place" is decided in a two-legged playoff. Same with Asia/Oceania. The fifth-place team in Asia (decided itself by a two-legged playoff) will play (and trounce) New Zealand in a two-legged playoff.

    "Groups of death," as they're known, typically involve the teams that would have been seeds No. 9 and 10, if the seeds went that deep. Last time around, that was Holland and the USA.

    As for fixing, like Bubs said, who knows. But I'm pretty sure no one expects South Africa to end up in a Group o' Death. FWIW, their group is already assigned (Group A, I believe), but that's only so they can set the matches in advance. If, for example, they go with Africa and CONCACAF as a pot, they'll just "skip" South Africa, or whatever.

    I don't explain it very well. This probably does a better job: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_FIFA_World_Cup#Groups

    And MN Matt, South and North Korea have both qualified as well.
  10. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Well put.

    Also, for the first time in a while (maybe ever), the "holders", aka the defending champions, don't get a free pass into the World Cup to defend their title. Italy has to qualify just like everyone else.
  11. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    This is the second time the defending champs don't get a berth. Brazil had to qualify last time around as well.

    Regarding South Africa getting in a tough group, they'll likely get an artificial "seed" just as Japan and South Korea did.

    And zagoshe: welcome. Glad your reasons for caring don't include the one the media seem to think is the only way people will pay attention to soccer: "Hey, the US is good! I care now!"

    As for what the US can take from this tournament in regards to the World Cup:

    It would take a complete collapse of our national team to ever fail to qualify for another World Cup. Unless this Confederations Cup is a sign of things to come, there will be dramatic moments along the way, losses at certain places, inexplicable ties, etc. But they will always qualify.

    What I loved about the Confederations Cup is that it was mostly great effort by the team. Aside from the first Brazil game, that was never in question. But it's tough to take anything from this and extrapolate it to the World Cup, except to note that clearly Bradley has not lost the players.

    Cantankerous soccer scribe Paul Gardner wrote the other day that reaching this final was not necessarily a sign of things to come, and should not be interpreted that way. For any team, it still takes a bit of luck, a lot of focus and effort, and a good amount of talent to make such a run. Some teams have a different mix of those, of course.

    A few years ago (2005) at one of those soccer symposiums, Bruce Arena noted that simply assuming natural progression - "Hey you made the quarters in 2002! The semis in 2006, right?" - was unwise. The draw can potentially make or break a team's chances.

    In addition, the team the US takes to the World Cup might be a completely different mix than the one that just went to the Confederations Cup final. Players will emerge, players will fade, players will get injured and return from injury.

    So basically, the main thing we could really take from this tournament as it pertains to next year is that no matter who it faces, the US team will likely not embarrass itself, and may well continue to put forth efforts supporters can really be proud of.
  12. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Thanks for stopping by, Buck.
    You're even a jerk on the soccer threads.
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