U.S. narrowly misses out on being seeded for Cup


December 07, 2005

The United States came within a point yesterday in Leipzig, Germany, of being one of the seeded teams for next year's World Cup.

Under the draw procedure approved by the FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee, the U.S. team wound up just behind Argentina and Italy.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena wasn't surprised to miss out.

"I thought all along the draw is going to be difficult. The field is extremely strong," he said.

The Americans can't meet a team from Asia in the first round of next year's tournament in Germany. There's a good chance they will get two European opponents and one from South America or Africa.

Although the draws for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups took into account performance in the three previous tournaments along with FIFA's rankings, the formula was changed slightly for Friday's draw and was based on the prior two World Cups and the rankings.

Defending champion Brazil was first in the new formula with 64 points, followed by England (51), Spain (50), Germany (48), Mexico (47), France (46) and Argentina and Italy (44 apiece).

Those eight seeded teams will be placed together in Pot One for Friday's draw, and they can't meet each other in the first round.

The United States, a quarterfinalist at the 2002 World Cup, was ninth with 43 points, followed by the Netherlands (38).

For the rest of the draw, FIFA placed the teams as follows:

Pot Two: Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Tunisia (Africa); Ecuador, Paraguay (South America); Australia (Oceania)

Pot Three: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine (Europe)

Pot Four: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea (Asia); Costa Rica, United States, Trinidad and Tobago (North and Central America and Caribbean)

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