I know that a lot of Americans don’t care about soccer, yadda yadda yadda, but yes, the World Cup draw was Friday, and yes - it was a big deal. Like the Olympics, the World Cup only comes once every four years, and the draw goes a long way in determining the fates of all those involved, so sitting and waiting for the results of the draw on Friday was a really stressful experience. One that ultimately ended up working out for Korea, and not so much for the United States.
So in case you aren’t familiar with the process or don’t know how it works, the upcoming World Cup finals that are happening this coming summer consist of 32 teams, which are divided into 8 different groups for round robin play, and the top two teams from each group advance on to the round of sixteen single elimination knockout stage.
Those initial 8 groups are decided by the World Cup draw, in which all the nations that qualified for the final are separated into four pots: Seeded teams (the top 8 ranked Fifa teams), African/South American teams, American/Caribbean/Asian Teams, and the European teams. The groups are selected by picking one team from each of this pots.
So what does this mean for any given country? Basically it means you want to draw the weakest teams possible from each region so you can get out of the round robin stages and into the knockout phase. Stating the obvious a ‘good’ World Cup draw means that you drew some of the weaker teams from the three other pots, while a ‘bad’ draw would be one where you end up stuck with some of the strongest teams in the world.
So on Friday, the latter happened to the United States, who drew Germany and Portugal and Ghana. Which is quite a difficult place to be in I mean you guys have heard of that Cristiano Ronaldo guy from Portugal, right? While Korea drew a challenging, yet a more manageable group of Belgium, Russia, and Algeria. I’m quite ecstatic about this to be honest.
It isn’t that I don’t want the U.S. to do well, but had Korea drawn an impossible group (the commonly used term is “Group of Death”), it would have ruined my summer. My friends and Twitter followers know how much passion I have about the Knicks, but Korean soccer is like, a whole different level of fantasy sports for me. I could say that it would be like how some American feel about fantasy football.
Ever since the 2002 World Cup, the pride I have for the Korean national team has pretty much been at the same level as my pride in my Korean heritage really; I love nothing more than seeing my team be successful on the world stage, and its individual players be able to perform in the world’s best professional leagues, for example, Park Ji-sung who has earned our nation’s respect.
This past major league baseball season, for example, featured the rookie from Korea pitcher Ryu Hyunjin, which I followed with close attention - even flying out to Los Angeles for a Dodgers game. I also flew out due to Girls’ Generation who are a group of nine talented singers from...