LEIPZIG, Germany -- Five days before the draw for next year's World Cup finals, the debate began on how seeding for the group phase will be determined. The criteria used to set up the four pots from which the 32-country field will be divided into eight groups of four teams will be decided Tuesday.
Being selected for Pot 1 -- made up of the top eight teams -- will help the chances of the game's powerhouses from avoiding another top country in the first round.
"There are different proposals," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "It certainly will be a mix of the performance from the last World Cup and the world rankings."
All that is certain is that Germany, as host, and Brazil, as defending champion, will be put in Pot 1 to head one of the groups.
Two-time World Cup champion Argentina is considered a top candidate for Pot 1, while Italy, England, Mexico, Spain and France are among the favorites.
Okay, so I'm hardly naive about us gringoes' not-American football team. We're sure as heck better'n we used to be, and 2002 was a really fun year that is not likely to be repeated. European and South American teams still have a healthy degree of contempt for the U.S., just not the same degree of condescencion.
But Mexico getting the top pot over the U.S.? Bull.
For all intents and purposes, the two teams are tied in the world rankings (Mexico comes in at #7, a few scant points ahead of the U.S. at #8), and tied for the top of the table in CONCACAF - though the U.S. wins a tie-breaker there, having fallen 1-2 in Mexico City, and winning 2-0 in Columbus.
But most importantly: in the last game they played that really mattered - in the 2002 World Cup - the U.S. destroyed Mexico, just beat them to a pulp.