It is the highest ranking that the USA team has achieved and comes on the back of successful
World Cup qualifiers and an undefeated run of six matches including a CONCACAF Gold Cup title.
The latest rankings have once again thrown FIFA methods for compiling the lists, and the value of the resulting tables, into doubt. As with all things FIFA the process of evaluation is based on an impenetrable matrix of previous results, weighting and other factors. Rankings are all good fun but when they throw up anomalies such as the Czech Republic being, apparently, the fourth strongest team in world football leading up to a World Cup year, questions need to be asked as to the exact purpose of the listings.
Not to be outdone in the conspiracy theory stakes, are we here at WCO Towers the only ones to feel a little uneasy that Coca-Cola, American as they come [ermmmm], not only sponsors the rankings but contributes half the official name?
Data courtesy of www.fifa.com
To be fair to the USA team they have a great recent record on paper with 29 wins, 7 losses and 9 draws. As FIFA points out the losses were to teams from the top seven of the world rankings, the team have qualified for successive World Cup finals since 1990 and reached the quarter-finals with a win over local rivals Mexico in Korea/Japan 2002. However, looking a little closer at the CONCACAF results can be quite illuminating. To win the competition the USA had to overcome those giants of world football Cuba and Canada but struggled to hold Costa Rica to a draw in the first round. In the next round, starting with the quarter final, they faced Jamaica, with Honduras waiting in the semi-final. So, into the final where they struggled against Panama in a match that was eventually decided on penalties.
In the World Cup qualifiers the USA shared a group with Panama, Jamaica and El Salvador [who failed to score a single goal throughout the group phase]. USA, as expected, topped the group, but again struggled away from home with 2 draws from 3 matches. The second qualification stage features a league system, home and away for each team, with the top three of six qualifying for the World Cup finals. Only two of the six teams will definitely be eliminated as the fourth best team has a Get Out of Jail card by way of a play-off with the 5th place team from the Asian Zone. Currently that will be the last one standing from Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Enough of the factoids, our point, if you still care, is that the USA would have to have been careless or wilful not to gather a decent recent run of results against such opposition. Is that really enough to place them sixth in the world rankings ahead of England [er, oh I see], France, Spain, Portugal and Germany? We say no, so what is the point of it all?
FIFA has long been desperate to gain a permanent foothold in the US, the only part of the globe [apart from New Zealand] that has resisted the Worlds Game. Surely they wouldn?t stoop to artificially raising a bit of excitement in a key market ahead of a global competition? You decide.