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July 12, 2006



Still the strength of opponent is tough to quantify. I mean is Andorra really better than Grenada just because they can get slaughtered by Germany instead of the US? FIFA doesn't even use its own rankings for the one thiing they might actually be useful for: World Cup seedings Mexico got a seed over the US despite the US being ahead in the rankings at the time (and winning the CONCACAF qualifying group and being the continental trophy holders). Granted neither deserved a seed but if FIFA isn't going to use the rankings for that, an objective way to avoid political bias, then they should scrap the rankings altogether. It does little to truly help differentiate the weaker teams as I mentioned above. And the stronger teams have the World Cup to help decide rankings on the pitch instead of the computer. Just get rid of them.


For one thing, even 'partisan Team USA fans' admitted before the World Cup that our #5 ranking was absurd. I don't know a single fan who bought into it. It was only casual or non-fans who bought the #5 nonsense. I said #10-12 was more accurate, which it was at the time. After the debacle in Germany, #16 is generous; we played like crap.

The powers in CONCACAF only play in two qualifying rounds. CONCACAF final round qualifying is a single group so the best teams always play each other twice in qualifying. And in final round qualifying, there is probably a smaller spread between top and bottom than any other qualifying group in the world. That doesn't make it the strongest by a long shot but it means that most final round games were meaningful in some way until the very end.

We know CONCACAF is a fairly weak region. I'd still rank it ahead of Oceania and Asia though, which admittedly isn't saying much. There have been suggestions that CONCACAF merge with CONMEBOL but that will never happen ebcause CONCACAF president Jack Warner is a greedy crook.

There have been other suggestions that the US Soccer Federation accept the outstanding invitation to play in the Copa America (which it did in '93 and '95, when they reached the semifinals, but has declined ever since). After the farce of Germany, there is much pressure from fans on the USSF to send a team next year and rumblings that it might even happen.

Frank McGahon

As I said, the rankings aren't perfect but at least they are approaching realism. I don't know if it's better to scrap the whole idea - in theory it could be used for a more transparent seeding process even though, as you note, FIFA more or less ignore the rankings when it comes to seedings - never mind Mexico, the the Dutch and Czechs' supposed rankings were also ignored.

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