US Embarrassed in World Cup Opener

Despite coming into the tournament ranked number five in the world, mostly thanks to playing against relatively weak competition in the Americas, Team USA was trounced in their opener in the 2006 World Cup.

It’s looking like another first round exit for the Red, White, and Blue. And they wonder why Americans don’t get excited about soccer.

Commenter Brandon Minich notes that the Czechs were ranked 2nd in the world, and thus should have beaten the 5th ranked USA team. A fair point; only Brazil is ranked higher.

Of course, this points to another reason why the World Cup is unlikely to cultivate much of an American fan base: Idiotic bracketing. There are 32 teams in 8 brackets. How on earth can the 2nd and 5th teams be in the same bracket, virtually guaranteeing one will be eliminated in the preliminary rounds?! Wouldn’t we expect teams 1-8 to be in separate brackets, with teams 9-16, 17-24, and 25-32 distributed accordingly to give the top seeds the best shot at advancing?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    So we only get excited about games where only we win?

  2. Hugh Jardohn says:

    Well, if we can just make people in other contries like us more I’m for losing. Think of the grief and further hatred of Americans we’d foment by, again, winning at something, (a third world kickball game for God’s sake} we’re not supposed to.

  3. DC Loser says:

    To add to the last comment. How did the US media delude us into thinking we had a fair chance against the Czechs? Their play right after the game started put that delusion right to sleep. It’s gonna be a helluva job coming back against Italy, and let’s see how Ghana does againt the Azzuri later this afternoon.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Nobody gets particularly excited about spectator sports until their team is competitive or there’s at least a history of having been competitive.

    Soccer has all manner of problems vis-a-vis the US television market but a strong showing of the US team in international play would at least provide some spark of interest.

  5. Bango says:

    And they wonder why Americans don�t get excited about soccer.

    It depends on what you mean by “excited.” There are millions of people who play soccer in the US. MLS attendance rivals the NHL. Whenever good national teams or prominent club teams play in the US (e.g. England,Man U., Club America) they sell out football stadiums.

    The game is huge with the Latino-American population which is growing much more than any other ethnic group. As the MLS becomes more competitive and more US players join good european club teams, you will see more interest in the US national team.

  6. whatever says:

    World Cup? What’s that?

  7. kenny says:

    “How on earth can the 2nd and 5th teams be in the same bracket”

    Because absolutely no one takes the FIFA rankings seriously, not even FIFA. Certainly not seriously enough to use for anything important.

    Both the US and Mexico are in the top 6 but only because they play most of their football in a very weak confederation.

  8. McGehee says:

    World Cup? What�s that?

    It’s twice as big as a Big Gulp.

  9. Buddahla says:

    There is much more complexity to the ranking system than you’re suggesting. The rankings take into account many aspects, historical performances, etc…with some similarity to the ATP. The plain and simple of it is: The US is NOT one of the premiere 5 teams in the world. The bracketing simply seeds the top 8 teams, according to the seeding committees (there’s a formula for determining this). As to our performance, we were beat and will continue to be beat because of the simple fact–WE DON’T HAVE WORLD CLASS FUTBOL TALENT (at least in this generation).

  10. ICallMasICM says:

    Budd is right – the US is fielding a team of mid level internationals at best against the best players in the world. I didn’t see the game yesterday but except for the ’02 win against Portugal what major victories has the US had in the Cup? ’94 over Colombia on an own goal and Colombia hasn’t qualified since? They have beaten Mexico but until they can beat the top European and South American teams nobody should be considering them as any kind of power.