Sunday was a day full of soccer as Euro 2008 action in the morning gave way to US-Argentina and a smattering of Mexico-Peru. With World Cup qualifying about to start out here, I wondered how the US would look during qualifying both this year and next and then in 2010 leading up to the World Cup.
As I'd just watched Croatia-Austria earlier in the day, I wondered about a possible World Cup group. Actually, I thought about the recent three-game swing as a bit of a World Cup tuneup except you'd never get England, Argentina and Spain in the same group. But what if the US gets a group like Argentina, Croatia and Austria? That's not out of the question - you've got a power in Argentina, a strong European side in Croatia and a European side a few notches down in Austria. Now, I'm not saying Austria will necessarily qualify for the World Cup, but if its' not Austria it will be a similar nation.
Would the US get out of that group? It's probably a scenario in which you hope (pray?) for a result against the seeded team, absolutely need a win against the lesser Euro team and play it out against the other Euro team. In this case, the US would have to beat Austria and probably Croatia. And against Argentina, well, ahem, en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo, Amen.
But I guess my thought is this - can the US do anything from now until the World Cup to change that? Can the US be in a position of a Croatia, where the US is the clear number two team in the group (because at this point Croatia would be the clear-cut number two side)?
We all know how the final round of qualifying is out here in this region: US should win all five of its home games, they'll go on the road and lose in Mexico and Costa Rica and then a win, a tie and who fucking cares in the other game because they'll be in no matter what.
The Confederations Cup will help prepare the team in 2009, but can the US really be a favorite to advance out of their World Cup group in 2010? Or will the next two years be preparation for one match, against a Croatia-type side?