The United States Men’s National is once again returning to the World Cup after a one-tournament hiatus after finishing third in CONCACAF’s Octagonal final round qualification.
Yes, the final matchday loss to Costa Rica on Wednesday was disappointing as I detailed here, but today is a quick turnaround for the actual FIFA World Cup draw which will take place in Qatari later today.
How To Watch
When: Friday, April 1st, 12:00pm EST
Where: FS1, Telemundo (TV) / FIFA.com, NBC Peacock (Steaming)
Who: The actual drawing will be done by an all-star cast including: Cafu (Brazil), Lothar Matthäus (Germany), Adel Ahmed Malalla (Qatar), Ali Daei (Iran), Former USMNT head coach Bora Milutinovic (Serbia), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Rabah Madjer (Algeria) and Tim Cahill (Australia)
How the Draw/World Cup Works (Mostly)
I’m sure I’m going to skip over a lot of the nuance of how this works but here’s the basics:
#USMNT goes into Pot 2 for Friday’s World Cup draw…— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) March 31, 2022
Pot 4: + 3 playoff winners...
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All 32 qualified teams (or their respective playoff spots for games yet to be played) will be drawn from four pots (listed above). Those pots are seeded based on the FIFA rankings and will be used to form the eight groups lettered A-H and each team after being drawn out of their pot will be assigned a group and then assigned one of the positions 1-4 in each group.
The hosts Qatar are guaranteed to be in Group A in position 1 as they will play the first game of the tournament and then the round robin group stages will proceed from there. You play every team in your group once for a total of three games and the top two advance and get put into the 16-team knockout bracket until we have a winner.
The other group selection rules are fairly basic. You can’t play be drawn against another team from your region, so the USA will not play any of Mexico, Canada, or Costa Rica in the group stage. The exception to this is Europe cause UEFA qualifies 13 teams, so there will be 5 groups that feature two European teams. As the draw progresses any conflict that arises, say Uruguay is pulled out of Pot 2 to be in Group C but Brazil is already in that group, Uruguay would go into the next available group without a CONEMBOL side.
Makes complete sense in theory. Unless your the UEFA Champions League who managed to botch this recently. Here’s a list of the current FIFA World Rankings and the teams by ranking/qualification status for reference as well. Any team that still has to qualify via a playoff will come out of Pot 4. Hardest group(s) get labeled “the Group of Death” and there could a few of those in this tournament.
Here's how the new FIFA Ranking plays out with the teams to qualify for the World Cup.— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) March 31, 2022
- Italy, Colombia and Sweden the only teams in the top 20 to be out
- Wales, Peru, Ukraine and Costa Rica face Pot 4 rather than possible Pot 3 if they qualify due to delayed playoffs pic.twitter.com/78TlT00EfH
So what the TBM staff is going to do, and what we want you to do as well, is post your own groups down below in the comments or tweet them to us throughout the morning. Following the above guidelines, it’s anything goes. Want the USA to disappoint Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal again on the world stage, pair the USA with them out of Pot 1. Want to see the Matt Turner vs Adam Buksa show, grab Poland out of Pot 3. Want your soul crushed again, hi Ghana, nice to see you there in Pot 4.
We’re doing this as a USA focused thing but feel free to pick a group for anyone you might be rooting for this winter. You can also play with this fun little draw simulator to help pass the time until they actually start drawing ping pong balls.
For those who want to have a bit of fun before the draw tomorrow, check out this cool World Cup draw simulator: https://t.co/Cii0cdrO9A— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 31, 2022
Jake - The Messing with England World Tour - England, United States, Morocco, Ecuador
My only wish for the 2022 World Cup is another USA-England matchup because the Yanks are unbeaten in the World Cup against England I think they should be reminded of this fact as often as possible. All the other friendlies where the US has never beaten England, nah, no one cares about those. Just 2010, 1950 and 1776. Do I think this is a great matchup for the USMNT? Not really, but I’m less scared of England than most of the other teams in Pot 1.
The rest of the group I am just hoping for something unique and interesting. Morocco being the second highest ranked team in Africa intrigues me and Ecuador isn’t one of the usual South American powerhouse teams. The likely Australia/Peru playoff winner here out of Pot 4 would also be interesting as it would give fans some extra reason to watch the remaining qualifiers and play-in games still on the schedule.
Overall, beat England, maybe make a knockout run, but with the USA as the youngest team in the tournament more than likely, this is just vital experience for the key 2026 hometown run.
Sam - Easiest and Most Entertaining Group - Qatar, United States, Poland, Ghana
If I’m the USMNT I want the easiest group possible. While everyone should be happy that the country simply qualified, getting eliminated in the group stage would be a tough stain on what is regarded as the golden generation of this country’s soccer federation.
Making it past the group stage would be a solid foundation for 2026 and once you get past that point, anything can happen.
The United States could realistically win this group (they should win this group). Qatar is in the tournament since they are hosting and the bad karma they have garnered with the atrocities surrounding the World Cup landing in the country all but assures that they don’t make it past the group stage.
Revs fans would also love to have Adam Buksa and Matt Turner in the same group. I have faith that the USMNT and Turner will best Poland as Robert Lewandowski can only do so much.
Then there’s Ghana. Every USMNT fan should want the opportunity to dominate the familiar foe. Hopefully Pulisic scores a hat trick while Turner records a clean sheet and we can all think about how bright the future is for the United States.
Josh – United States, Portugal, Poland, Ghana
I’ve watched several Poland qualifying matches over the past few months, and all I can say is I just love watching this team play. The chemistry this squad has in its attack, midfield, and defense is something I have not seen in any other national team I’ve watched. Just seeing how Poland has played throughout qualifying, it would be a dream to see them take on the United States. Buksa versus Turner is a bonus.
I feel it’s a popular pick, but seeing a star-studded Portugal side take on other star-studded teams like the United States and Poland would make for some entertaining soccer. While I feel that Portugal may be a challenge, seeing this young and hungry US side take on a team with some of the greatest names in the sport today will make an incredible watch.
When it comes to sports, I love the underdog story. Seeing Ghana qualify edge out a people’s favorite in Nigeria was cool to see. While I will miss seeing the awe-inspiring Nigerian kits this World Cup, having an underdog like Ghana in a pool of giants like the US, Portugal, and Poland will also be interesting to see.
2.) United States
Leave your preferred World Cup group, dastardly Groups of Death, or randomly generated hilarity down in the comments below.