We heard that Charlize Theron—by the way, have you had enough of her yet? Is it possible? She’s gonna look so good at today’s draw, you will doubt all over again that that was really her in Monster.
Anyway, we heard that she drew an “Ireland” ball out of the bowl during a dress rehearsal for the draw, instead of a “France” ball, just to have a little fun with FIFA. Ha.
But why would there have been an “Ireland” ball at the draw, dress rehearsal or not? … Ah forget it, we are choosing to believe this story, just to add to our admiration for South Africa’s favorite daughter.
Where were we? Oh, right: U.S. World Cup draws. How will today’s stack up against the last five? Let’s take a look:
1990: Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Austria
Degree of Difficulty: For the U.S.’s inexperienced team, which contained two college players, a solid 9.
Results: Three and out; two goals scored and eight conceded.
1994: Switzerland, Colombia, and Romania
Degree of Difficulty: Playing at home helped, but remember, Colombia was a popular darkhorse pick to win the whole thing that year, and Romania had Gheorge Hagi, the Maradona of the Carpathians (best nickname of all-time?), who led the team to a win over Argentina and into the quarterfinals, where they lost on penalties to Sweden: 8.
Results: Tied Switzerland 1-1, beat Colombia 2-1 [!], lost to Romania 1-0. Advanced to Round of 16 meeting with Brazil, lost 1-0.
1998: Germany, Iran, and Yugoslavia
Degree of Difficulty: With two legit European powers and an intense political rival in Iran—which was far more motivated by that rivalry than the U.S. was—this one scores an 8.5.
Results: Lost to Germany 2-0, Lost to Iran 2-1, lost to Yugoslavia 1-0. Oof.
2002: Portugal, S Korea, and Poland
Degree of Difficulty: Like Colombia in ’94, Portugal entered the ’02 tournament as a trendy darkhorse; S Korea was hosting, and Poland, even though it was a second-tier European team, was generally tabbed to finish second in the group: 8.
Results: Beat Portugal 3-2[!], tied S Korea 1-1, lost to Poland 3-1. Advanced to Round of 16 meeting with Mexico, won 2-0; met Germany in quarterfinals, lost 1-0.
2006: Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana
Degree of Difficulty: This was a straight-up Group of Death, and was called so at the time: a world power in Italy, a Czech team fueled by Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky, and big Jan Koller, along with a dangerous African power in Ghana, led by Michael Essien: 9.5.
Results: Lost to Czech Republic 3-0, tied Italy 1-1, lost to Ghana 2-1. Done.
But we’re optimistic, because as reader Mike G. points out, the U.S. has a pattern in World Cup performances.
See above: ’90: crap, ’94: second round, ’98: shite, ’02: quarterfinals, ’06: bollocks….’ 10: they’re due to get out of group play, at least!
Enjoy the draw.