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'Twas the Night Before the Draw

A monthly column about the State of U.S. Soccer that takes a hard look at everything from the performance of the U.S. National Teams to pro soccer in the good ‘ole U-S-of-A. If you’re looking for a viewpoint that you won’t see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, you’ve come to the right place.

This month, we’re looking at the 2006 World Cup Final Draw that was held on Dec. 9 in Germany and plopped the U.S. into Group E with the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. But, instead of going on a rant about the advantages and disadvantages of getting placed into one of the more difficult groups, we figured we’d get into the holiday season. We’re playing off a familiar poem at this time of year, with “‘Twas the Night Before the Draw.”

‘Twas the night before the Draw, when all through the country
Not a U.S. soccer fan was stirring, not even Sam’s Army.
The balls were all placed in the pots with care,
In hopes that Cobi, Cruyff and Matthaeus soon would be there.

The players were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of not getting Brazil danced in their heads.
And fans in their national team jersey, and USA cap,
Had just settled their soccer brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the Leipzig stage there arose such a clatter,
Fans sprang to the telly to see what was the matter.
Up went the volume, a quick rub of the eyes
Just what would the USA’s World Cup group comprise?

The bright stage lights shining down upon Pot 4
As the anticipation grew quickly from shore to shore
When, what to fans’ wondering eyes should appear,
But the USA being put in Group E…oh my, oh dear.

With the Czechs, Italy and Ghana, fans held their breath
As they knew in a moment – we’ve drawn “Group of Death”
But no fear said Arena as reporters’ questions came
He listed reasons for optimism, calling them by name!

There’s Donovan! There’s Keller! How ‘bout Beasley and Reyna!
Don’t forget McBride, Onyewu! Also Lewis and Bocanegra!
Arena reminded of four years past, the surprises aplenty,
Senegal, Korea, even U.S., knocking off those more hefty.

It all starts in January when the players meet in Carson,
To work hard on their game session after session.
Soon enough they’ll become quick-footed and light
And confident their draw may be tough but all right!

Four preparation matches are set, plus more on the way
We’ve got Canada, Japan, Germany and Norway
Then it’s off to Hamburg, where they’ll make their base
Before eyeing the trophy and beginning to give chase

June 12 brings the Czechs, the USA’s opening game
A victory key, keeping dreams of advancing aflame
At least a point is what they were hoping to see
Not an impossible task, don’t you agree?

Italy is next, the match five days later,
Three previous meetings, the U.S. not yet a winner.
This time could be different, albeit no doubt tough,
Possibly pulling out a win in a 1-0 or 2-1 scruff

The Black Stars loom last, with the next round in view,
A physical game where they’ll get black and blue.
An impressive win can put them through once again,
To face a Group F team and their fearless marksmen

Who would the U.S. face, but possibly the best,
Brazil may be next or another difficult test.
Whoever we face could end the dream right there
Or maybe another quarterfinal run, o’ do we dare?

Either way we’ll hear from the thousands of U.S. fans,
That will arrive in Germany as red, white and blue clans.
They’ll help fill up the stadiums every game day
Singing, “Goals, goals, goals for the U-S-of-A!”