While Brazil met Germany for The first time in World Cup history on Sunday, the U.S. can only hope it doesn't run into the Germans for the third straight World Cup in 2006. Germany will be hosting the event, an honor that inspires great things from the home team. (Witness South Korea and, to a lesser extent, Japan this year.) The tournament is tentatively scheduled for June 9 to July 9 in 12 cities, with Berlin set for the final. While Germany will get an automatic bid as the host, for the first time the reigning champion won't receive a free pass to the next World Cup. For Brazil, which struggled mightily during South America's tortuous 18-game qualifying campaign for 2002, that's not welcome news.
The North American audience will certainly find the next Cup easier to follow, with live TV broadcasts during daylight hours. (Again ABC and ESPN will air the games.) Just two years until qualifying starts. The countdown begins now.