2025 Men’s World Championships Draw: Best and Worst Cases for the U.S.; Plus a Little What if?

The draw for the 2025 Men’s World Championships will take place tomorrow, 29 May at 1:30 PM (US ET) / 7:30 PM (CET). It will probably be streamed live and I will place the link here when it’s available.

The USA Men are in pot 4 and here’s some best and worst case analysis for who might be drawn into their group

  • Pot 1: It doesn’t matter for pot 1. The USA will be a huge underdog no matter which of these 8 teams they end up playing in Group Play.
  • Pot 2: The best outcome here would clearly be Italy. The Italians won their qualification play-off match vs Montenegro in convincing fashion, but it’s still their first WC in 18 years. The U.S. would be underdogs against Italy, but an upset victory would certainly be possible. The Czech Republic is probably the next weakest side, but a victory over them or any of the other teams in pot 2 is still unlikely.
  • Pot 3: This will be the key draw for the U.S. as the group match vs this opponent will likely determine who moves on to the main round and who goes to the President’s Cup. Here’s my take (in order) as to who the U.S. preferred options are
    • Cuba: The best option is clearly Cuba. The U.S. Men lost to Cuba at the 2024 NORCA Championships, but that was mostly a B side. The U.S. Men’s top side has beaten Cuba the last two times they played each other (2023 PANAM Games and and 2022 NORCA).
    • Algeria: Algeria were the runners-up in African qualification, but usually they are the 3rd or 4th best team from Africa and are similar in quality to the Moroccan side the U.S. beat 28-27 at the 2023 WC
    • Japan: Japan had built up a pretty solid team for the 2020 Olympics, but they’ve slipped a bit since then.
    • Qatar: Qatar still has some naturalized citizens playing for them, but they aren’t as strong as they used to be
    • North Macedonia: North Macedonia or Italy are arguably the weakest European teams at this World Championship.
    • Poland: On paper Poland should be a better team, but results wise they have been a disappointment recently. If there ever was a European team that could slip up and lose against a team like the USA, its this Poland team.
    • Argentina: The U.S. led most of the 1st half vs Argentina last year at the PANAM Games only to end up losing 28-14. While it’s possible the U.S. could put two good halves together it would be tough to come out on top. Further, the Argentinians know what the U.S. is capable of, so a surprise victory is not possible.
    • Brazil: The U.S. has played Brazil close at times, but hasn’t come close to a win. And, again, just like Argentina, the U.S. can’t sneak up on Brazil.

Best and Worst Possible Draws

Here’s my take on the best and worse possible draws for the U.S.

  • Best Possible: Slovenia, Italy, Cuba
  • Worst Possible: France, Croatia, Brazil

What If… the USA had won the 2024 NORCA and had Potential Opponents from Pot 4?

The U.S. chose to send essentially a B side to the North American & Caribbean Championship while an A side played Norway and France in two friendly matches. The U.S. could afford to do this as they had already been awarded a wild card for the World Championships. This resulted in Cuba (the NORCA Champions) being placed in Pot 3 and the U.S. being placed in Pot 4 as a wild card. If, the U.S. had sent their A team to NORCA and had won the Championship the U.S. would have been placed in Pot 3 and the Pot 4 wild card would have likely been assigned to a European side like Serbia.

Here’s some top level “What if?” analysis of who the USA would have potentially played under that scenario. The USA would have been big underdogs to Switzerland and Serbia, moderate underdogs to Bahrain and Tunisia, close to a pick em vs Chile and Cape Verde, and probably favorites over Kuwait and Guinea.

So overall, there would have been better opportunities to get to the Main Round from Pot 3 than Pot 4. Not guaranteed, of course. The U.S. could still draw Cuba or Algeria from Pot 3 and if they hadn’t gone the Wild Card route they could have ended up playing Switzerland or Serbia.

From a big picture viewpoint, however, I think the U.S. still made the right call to send a B team to the NORCA Championships. The experience gained playing France and Norway was worth more than having better odds to reach the Main Round. And, at the same time the U.S. was able to evaluate several athletes on the B team and assess their potential for future competitions.