World Cup 2014: Tough groups await in Brazil after United States, CONCACAF placed in Pot 3
Nobody ever said it would be easy.
The World Cup draw won't occur until Friday, but FIFA gave the United States and the rest of the CONCACAF region a hint at what to expect on Tuesday morning when the four eight-team pots from which the groups will be created were revealed.
The US, along with Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, were placed in Pot 3 with the four qualifiers from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), meaning none of those eight nations will play each other in the group stage. Pot 1 is made of the eight tournament seeds, Pot 2 includes Africa's five representatives along with unseeded South American sides Chile and Ecuador and Pot 4 boasts all nine unseeded European nations.
Each group will include one team from each pot, with one team from Pot 4 drawn into Pot 2. Starting with Brazil, the pots will be emptied in order of 1 through 4 and groups filled sequentially A through H, with exceptions made to prevent teams from the same qualification zone being drawn into the same group.
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In order to maintain the regional exclusivity that is a hallmark of the draw, apart from the exception that one group could include two teams from UEFA, FIFA also created Pot X, which includes all four seeded teams from CONMEBOL (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay). The European ball from Pot 2 will be drawn along with one from Pot X to immediately match the two before the draw begins, eliminating the possibilty that the process could bear a group including three teams from UEFA.
In 2010, the US were placed in Pot 2 along with Mexico and Honduras, four representatives from the AFC and Oceania's New Zealand. The Americans drew England, Algeria and Slovenia.
The draw for Brazil 2014 will occur on Friday (8:30 am PT), as FIFA sets the eight four-team groups and locks in the schedule for the opening phase of the tournament. MLSsoccer.com will have complete coverage of the World Cup draw, including live updates of the groups, post-draw analysis, and reactions from USMNT players such as Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi.
FIFA WORLD CUP POTS
Pot 1 (8): Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium
Pot 2 (7):
Pot 3 (8): United States,, , Costa Rica, , , , Iran
Pot 4 (9):, , , Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, , , , France