Wednesday, August 16, 2006

US tumbles out of the top 20 in FIFA rankings

The new rankings are out and there has not been a lot of movement, except for a handful of teams. One of those teams happens to be the USA. Here is the top 20.

RankTeamJuly RankChange
10Czech Republic100
18 Côte d'Ivoire 20+2

The US ends up behind Croatia and Guinea in 23rd, which is a drop of 7 spots.

This month's biggest losers are Fiji (down 15 to 107th), Canada (down 28 to 82nd), Panama (down 39 to 98th) and the biggest loser of all is Honduras who fell 43 spots to 81st.

For the biggest winners we have Qatar (up 12 to 64th), the Dominican Republic (up 15 to 171st) and the best of the movers in the up direct is Namibia who flew 30 spots to 137th.

These rankings mean what they have always meant, nothing. That said, they could point to something bad for CONCACAF. In 2010, there is going to be a lot of pressure to award a sixth spot to Africa (for 2006 they had 5), but the question is where will this spot come from?

Europe is not going to give up any allocations after what was shown in Germany and same can be said for South America's four spots. Asia already has the fewest spots per countries involved and Oceania only gets .5 of a spot. So whom does that leave out? CONCACAF.

After the poor showing in Germany and the low ranking of most of CONCACAF's teams, it will be difficult to justify the 3.5 spots we got this time around. FIFA could just drop it down to 3 and give the .5 to Africa, but it might be easier, politically, to give Africa the full spot and make the number three CONCACAF team fight it out will the number five Asian side.

Why this matters to the US is it limits the number of chances to make it to the World Cup. Yes, it would be difficult for the US not to finish in the top two, much less the top three in the confederation, but that does not mean it could not happen. A few injuries or bad calls and we could be in trouble.

A more likely scenario is the US does make the World Cup, but one less team from our confederation gets the chance. That means there will be one less country in our region that gets the bonus money that comes with reaching the finals. That money is used, in part, to help improve the game in that country. Those improvements make the team better, thus providing better competition. This makes games against those countries better preparation for the World Cup. The less development help CONCACAF gets, the lesser the chances of it becoming a top tier confederation.

Don't forget the US Soccer Carnival part IV.


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