Go ahead and admit it now—you have been aimlessly using World Cup draw simulators to try and find the ideal group for the United States to play in next summer in Brazil.
You are not alone if you have, and if you have not done so, I recommend wasting a few minutes of your time trying to figure out the best group possible for Jurgen Klinsmann's crew.
When you look at the potential pots in which teams will be separated, the Yanks will be paired up with at least one European nation as Pot 4 should contain all nations from UEFA.
The Yanks will likely be cast in Pot 2 with the four Asian nations and the three other CONCACAF squads as Mexico and Uruguay are expected to win their respective playoff matchups with New Zealand and Jordan.
If that all falls into place during the intercontinental playoffs, which it should, Pot 3 would contain the two non-seeded CONMEBOL teams (Chile and Ecuador) and the five African nations that qualify in the middle of November through five matchups.
One European nation will have to be added to that pot if Uruguay wins because it would knock Holland out of the first pot, which contains eight seeded nations that include host Brazil and defending champion Spain.
Now that the confusing pot scenario is decided for now, it is time to look at the ideal group draw for the United States.
Pot 1: Switzerland
Out of the eight seeded teams, the least dangerous of them all is Switzerland.
Despite what you think about the Americans wanting a big-name nation to be drawn here, the team does want to get out of the group stage and finish first in that group like they did in 2010.
For that to be possible, the Yanks will have to draw the Swiss. They will not be a total pushover in Brazil, but compared to the other seven squads in Pot 1, they are the weakest of that group.
Switzerland won UEFA Group E in qualifying, but they did so against the likes of Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus.
Needless to say, Ottmar Hitzfeld's squad were not tested by a major powerhouse during the qualification process.
The Swiss do possess some young talent in Pajtim Kasami, Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, but they should not be overpowering enough to dominate the Yanks on neutral soil.
Pot 3: Ghana
If there is one team that the United States wants to enact revenge on at the world's biggest tournament, it is Ghana.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Ghana defeated the Yanks in extra time in the round of 16. The Black Stars also took down the United States in the group stage at the 2006 World Cup.
Barring a total collapse in the second leg of their playoff with Egypt, the Black Stars will be headed to Brazil with their sights fully set on the knockout stage.
The Yanks will have other thoughts about the knockout stage potential of the team that has been their Achilles' heel in the last decade.
Beating Ghana will be no easy task, but if the Americans can knock them off in the group stage, it will be a massive confidence builder for a team looking to finally beat the African nation at the World Cup.
Pot 4: Winner of Iceland vs. Croatia UEFA Playoff
Who the Yanks draw out of the all-European pot could determine their fate in Brazil.
The teams that are already in the pot are England, Italy, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, although that may change depending on which European nation enters Pot 3 if Uruguay qualifies for the tournament.
The Yanks definitely do not want to see the winners of Portugal vs. Sweden and France vs. Ukraine.
As for the other two European playoff matches, Greece is expected to beat Romania, while the Iceland vs. Croatia clash is up for grabs.
United States fans do not want to see their team try to get past a stingy Greek side, which leaves the winner of Iceland vs. Croatia as the ideal opponent.
If the Americans were to face Iceland, it would be perceived as an easy victory because they are an inexperienced side in regard to the World Cup stage.
Croatia is in the middle of a bad spell of international football; they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and did not make it out of the group stage at the 2012 European Championships.
Croatia do have some quality in their side, but given their average form recently, they would be a desired opponent of the Americans in Brazil.
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