Wednesday, September 13, 2006

USA falls in FIFA Rankings.

FIFA released the latest World Rankings and the USA fell from #23 to #29. Several other countries moved around, Columbia being the most notable, moving up 9 spots to #20. Brasil is still #1.

As US supporters, should we be worried that in 3 months, the US has dropped from "#5" to #29?


Maybe because of how FIFA actually intends to use these world rankings in the future. FIFA seems to be focused on actually using them as part of the seeding formulas for tournaments, and that should have countries worried. Just as Chelsea have been bitching about not getting a #1 seed in the UEFA Champions League, a strong team like Holland could definitely bitch if they get grouped with the likes of Argentina, Czech Republic and Nigeria in the next World Cup.

So how does this affect the USA? It affects us because we are not playing right now. By not playing, we fail to actually add to the formula for the rankings, and since the results that are being used for the formula are not the best of results, we will continue to slide down the rankings. If we continue to fall down the rankings, two major things will result from this - we will get put in another "Group of Death" in a tournament and other countries will stay away from scheduling matches against us.

Say we drop from #29 to #34 next round of rankings. Who would want to play us? We would not be able to offer anyone of the likes of Columbia, Argentina, England, Germany, France any incentive to play us. If they get a result, they will not get that much of a rankings boost from the victory over us. If they lose to us, then they get a major hit, as a possible Top 10 side loses to a Top 30 side. So that will leave us to playing the CONCACAF minnows, which is the one thing that we really need to stop doing on a regular basis. Sure, maybe we beat Panama 3-0 in Seattle or Columbus. Great, we just beat the #74 team in FIFA. Does that really do anything for our development? On the flip side of the same argument against Top 10 countries playing us, it applies to us playing the Panama's, Costa Rica's (#53), Cuba's (#69) or Jamaica's (#77). If we win, great, we beat a lesser ranked team. If we lose, we slide even further.

So, how to change this? Well, first thing is to start playing matches. Who do we start playing against? The countries ranked around us. The following countries are ranked within 7 spots ahead and below us. If they do not have matches scheduled, USSF should contact them and figure out if we can work out a match.

#22 - Greece
#23 - Ghana
#24 - Croatia
#25 - Romania
#26 - Guinea
#27 - Egypt
#28 - Turkey
#30 - Ecuador
#31 - Tunisia
#32 - Serbia
#33 - Senegal
#34 - Scotland
#35 - Poland
#36 - Israel

Looking at that list, we have some very good possible opponents and ones that fill certain needs that the USSF should be attempting to fill before the next World Cup.

Win in Europe
If we scheduled matches against Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Poland; the void that has been victories in Europe can be worked on. I firmly believe that on any given day, a USA squad that is in the correct mindset, can take it to any of those squads and get a victory against them. Getting victories in Europe against sides ranked around us should be a good enough start for the USA to move up in the rankings.

Play in Africa
The 2010 World Cup is scheduled to be hosted in South Africa, and as I believe that the USNMT has only played about a handful of matches in Africa, and not for the last dozen or so years, playing over there might not be the baddest of ideas. Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and Egypt are on the African continent. Each one would be a good test in a hostile environment. An added bonus would to be able to exact some type of retribution on Ghana for knocking (diving) us out of the World Cup. Defeating any of these sides should be a good start to moving the USA up in the rankings.

In any case, playing any of these sides, in Europe, Africa, or in the USA would be a good option and a great start for the preparations for the 2010 World Cup. Playing away from the USA would be the most ideal of situations, but if we can only get home matches, we should still take the match. Playing quality opponents is a much better option than playing pushovers from our own region.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they mean the United States in the pre-20th century poetic sense.

7:49 AM  

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