Friday, May 28, 2010


Okay - I've been quiet. I've been working on a new site that will be much more interesting than this one.

From now on, subscribe to the blog, bookmark, set your homepage to (whatever) to

It's time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Twitter

So I created a new twitter account for the blog. Follow @AF2010 if you want to get full reports of the fooligaining in South Africa. If anyone is out there who is considering going but is on the fence - South African Airways has fares for less than $2000 now and you can rapidly put together a trip. I'm happy to help your planning if you need it!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We're headed to South Africa!

I couldn't resist the gravitatonal pull from the cradle of mankind and I'm headed to South Africa for the World Cup this summer. Provided I live until then, that will make it three on the trot for this man. The plan is to mainly hole up in Jo'burg for most of the duration and soak up as much footie as possible. Currently here is the agenda for matches I will be attending:

South Africa - Mexico
USA - England
Netherlands - Denmark
Brazil - North Korea
Argentina - South Korea
USA - Slovenia
Ghana - Australia
Brazil - Ivory Coast
Argentina - Greece (might sub for Mexico-Uruguay)
USA - Algeria
2 R16 Matches
2 Quarterfinals
1 Semifinal

It's gonna be one glorious month.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foz de IguaƧu

I will start blogging again on tuesday. Bonus, all blogs will be in
Portuguese and English. Debating a Spanish text as well.

Friday, December 04, 2009

No Excuses in 2010!

Not that we have ever made any before . . . I didn't hear one American dismiss our failures in 2006 as being okay because we had a tough group . . . but we really have no excuses. In May 2008, a full strength US squad played a full strength England squad at Wembley and the US boys lost 2-0 with a little bit of starstruck look in their eyes.

From American Fooligan

Since that match, the US team has found their steel. A 1-0 loss in a full-strength friendly in Spain and then a 0-0 draw with Argentina put the US on the Road to South Africa (it was actually in England that the kit below made it's debut).

From American Fooligan

Here is my quick and dirty gut reaction of who will advance. A detailed analysis will follow in the coming weeks, but here is what I have off the cuff (bold team wins group, italic advances):

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G: Brasil, North Korea, Cote d'Ivoire, Portugal

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

For me, the only group that I really am not confident in picking any teams to advance is Group A. France, Uruguay and Mexico have all been very inconsistent. South Africa has been consistent . . . consistently terrible. But, the host country has always advanced and those vuvuzelas will be in full effect.

So, my round of 16 would look like this:

MEX vs. KOR - winner = MEX

USA vs. GHA - winner = USA

GER vs. ENG - winner = ENG

RSA vs. ARG - winner = ARG

NED vs. ITA - winner = NED

PAR vs. DEN - winner = DEN

BRA vs. HON - winner = BRA

ESP vs. CIV - winner = ESP

My Quarterfinals are a dream:

MEX vs. USA - winner = USA

BRA vs. NED - winner = NED (I might get killed and/or fired for that!)

ENG vs. ARG - winner = ENG (Beckham hits a free kick to win)

ESP vs. DEN - winner = ESP

Semifinals (a boy can dream, right?):

USA vs. NED - winner = USA

ENG vs. ESP - winner = ESP


USA vs. ESP - winner = didn't this match happen already!

God I love the World Cup!

From World Cup 2006

The Kookie Boyz in Germany!

My Command Center!

Live Feed

If anyone needs a live feed - here it is -

5 minutes!

Until we get to watch the entertainment! I am going to be more active on Twitter than here so follow me on Twitter - @rishisehgal

Draw Day: Does It Even Matter?


From American Fooligan

It's finally here. This is the day where 2010 fever really sets in. The 32 team field is set and now we just have to see where the chips fall.

But, before the hoopla begins in about 3.5 hours, let's think about whether it even matters?

I do not think the draw is as important as many others will make it to be. My earlier posts on the probabilities were more about me trying to play with numbers. The group that the USA faced this past summer was about as tough as you could imagine (USA, Brasil, Italy and Egypt) and we made it through.

I think the worthier teams generally advance from the groups and after looking back on the 48 group stage games, I think the 16 teams that advance to the knockout round are the 16 teams generally playing the best soccer. Since the field expanded to 32 teams in 1998 (let's call this the Modern WC Era), we have never seen a team earn 6 points yet improbably be eliminated while a team advanced from another group with only 3 or 4 points. In fact, only twice in the Modern WC Era has a team that was eliminated in the first round had a positive goal differential (Spain in '98 and Portugal in '02).

A more important factor is what second round pairings would look like. I don't think France were better than Germany or Argentina in 2006 but we didn't have the chance to find out. I don't think Korea or Turkey were better than England in 2002, but both got further because England had to face champions Brasil in the quarterfinals.

All that said, I think the teams the USA is least likely to get a result against are Brasil, Spain, Holland, Germany, Cote d'Ivoire and France (if they can solve their midfield woes, Anelka is lethal and has a penchance for striking when the US is most vulnerable - at the beginning and end of games). Those teams have styles of play, levels of discipline and the personnel with which the US could have great difficulty coping.

Here in Rio, O Globo, the main newspaper disagrees with me and claims that the most difficult group for Brasil would include the US, Cote d'Ivoire and France. Wow, now that would be a true Group of Death. One mistake and you would almost certainly be put out. What that also means is that the Brasilians rate the US higher than Mexico! Take that Mexico!

I will be live blogging and twittering during the draw. If you're not already doing so, follow me @rishisehgal.

I can't wait! Which teams do you not want to face until later in the tournament?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

World Cup 2010 Draw Revisted - Probabilities

Just today the South Africa 2010 Organizing Committee has confirmed what I predicted a couple weeks ago, with one exception. France is not seeded. Despite winning in 1998 and being a finalist in 2006, the SAOC and FIFA have not rewarded France with a seed. I wonder why. I don't really wonder - this was clearly the result of Thierry Henry's handiwork. (see what I did there?)

Here are the pots for the draw which will be held on Friday.

Pot 1 (Seeded Teams): South Africa, Brazil, England, Spain, Argentina, Netherlands, Italy, Germany (5 of 8 are previous winners).

Pot 2: (AFC, New Zealand and CONCACAF: North Korea, South Korea (...Marilyn Monroe - I am feeling humorous today), Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Honduras, Mexico, USA

Pot 3: (CAF and CONMEBOL): Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile

Pot 4: (non-seeded UEFA): France, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Greece, Serbia, Switzerland)

So, from my prior predictions, the only differences are that France and Holland traded places and the numbering of the groups. Both of those changes are irrelevant to my prior analysis as I still rate France as Group of Death worthy (GoD) team. So, why post again? Well, as someone pointed out to me on BigSoccer, it would be extremely unlikely that the hosts are placed in a GoD. The host country has made it to the second round in every single World Cup. If I were a betting man . . . guess what I would bet on right now?

Okay, so assuming South Africa is not capable of being placed in a GoD, that means there is 7/8 chance that a Pot 1 team will contribute to a GoD.

Out of Pot 2, I rate the US.

Out of Pot 3, I rate Ivory Coast, Ghana and Paraguay as GoD teams. (3/8)

Out of Pot 4, I rate France, Denmark and Portugal as GoD teams. (3/8)

Now, let's reexamine what exactly constitutes a GoD. Is it that every team should have a reasonable shot at advancing? Or that 3/4 of the 4 would be feared. I think it's the latter.

Let's look at the GoDs for the last 3 World Cups. I wanted to include 1994 as well, but that tournament only had 24 teams so 3 teams could advance from any group - and the GoD there was Ireland, Italy, Mexico and Norway - and Ireland, Mexico and Italy actually advanced.

In 1998: Nigeria, Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria. Nigeria and Bulgaria were stars in 1994 and Spain is Spain. Paraguay were not highly rated in 1998 having failed to qualify for either 1990 or 1994.

In 2002: England, Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria. Here, England, Argentina and Sweden were all highly rated. Nigeria were not rated so highly as the stars that carried them to the second round in 1994 and 1998 had aged by this point. In fact, they were pretty fruitless on the pitch as well, scoring a lone goal.

In 2006, we had: USA, Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana (USA, Czech and Italy were all top 15 teams per FIFA rankings) and Ghana was in its first world cup. Out of the 64 teams that made the second round in the four prior world cups, only 3 were debutants (Senegal '02, Saudia Arabia '94 and Costa Rica '90). In 2006, the group with Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia and Netherlands was also considered a GoD by some, but we had 2 debutants in that group - debutants are very unlikely to advance (again, only 3/64 teams that qualified for the 2nd round between 1990 and 2002 were debutants).

So, let's say a GoD is established if there are 3 teams that can be considered reasonably likely to advance to the second round.

I decided to be unlazy and have attempted to calculate this both if we assume the US is a GoD team and if the US is considered the weak team. In the case of the latter - we'll call that LEG (learning experience group). For clarity - I've included LEGs into the God calculations.

Anyway - if we draw a CONMEBOL team from Pot 1, then we have a 0.09% chance of drawing into a LEG and a 3.0% chance of drawing into a traditional GoD. So there is a 3.9% chance of at least a GoD.

If we draw a UEFA team from Pot 1, we have an 2.2% chance of drawing into a LEG and a 7.5% chance of drawing into a traditional GoD. So there is 9.7% chance of at least a GoD.

If we draw South Africa, then we have 0 chance of getting a GoD - based on the warm ball theory.

So, we have a 13.6% chance of being drawn into a Group of Death.

What does this all mean? Very little until Friday. That's the beauty of the game and these tournaments. No matter who we draw, we will need to win. And, if our group is like the Confederations Cup, maybe we just have to win once. (by the by, since 1990, the US has only picked up 9 of a possible 45 points in group stage games. And people wonder why we haven't been seeded).

Let´s hope we draw Argentina or South Africa.