March 15, 2006

USA MNT receives highest ever FIFA ranking: Number 5.: This subject always seems to spark a debate. To your corners!

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY to soccer at 02:08 PM - 23 comments

Just to get it out of the way: this is yet more proof that All Americans Hate Soccer and Go Seahawks or whatever. Now. So let's pretend I'm pulling for the USA side in the World Cup. Is it reasonable to expect them to reach, say, the semifinals? Does anyone think they have a realistic shot at winning the thing? Also, what's wrong with the Germans?

posted by chicobangs at 02:28 PM on March 15, 2006

Everyone knows the ratings are a joke. A better guide would surely be the odds available for the forthcoming WC. Although this is based on weight of punters money, and circumscribed by the 32 teams that have qualified. Currently, the market is (in order of favouritism): BRA, ENG, GER, ARG, FRA, ITA, NED, ESP, POR, CZE, SWE, MEX, UKR, CRO, SUI, POL, USA, CIV, SER, AUS, PAR, ECU, JAP, GHA, KOR, TUN, TOG, ANG, IRN, CRC, SAU, TRI So, even amongst the qualified teams, the USA ranks 17th, with winning odds of around 100-1. But - here's a tip - put some money on Korea and/or Japan to make the quarters or semis. The odds available at European betting agencies should be attractive.

posted by owlhouse at 02:34 PM on March 15, 2006

Well, the USA is in one of the pools of death with the Czechs and Italians in their group. That might influence the betting. But the rankings suffer if the teams don't play out of their region very much, no? So a record by built upon domination of a weaker region has to be taken with a blade of grass.

posted by gspm at 02:48 PM on March 15, 2006

Odds to win the tournament The odds are one thing, as long as you bear in mind the caveats owlhouse offered - particularly the one about the influence of heavy betting in the deep end (England second favourites? What's that expression about a fool and his money?). The world rankings would only be truely meaningful in predicting results if the teams were playing a round-robin format. If they did that, I suspect the USA would be lower than 5th. That said, it indicates that the US team is playing well and is in theory better than it has ever been. If they get out of the group, they're the sort of team that could outperform their (alleged) ranking.

posted by JJ at 03:52 PM on March 15, 2006

This are alot more the way you have to scroll down halfways...

posted by Grrrlacher at 04:39 PM on March 15, 2006

Great link, Grrlacher. I see even the Vatican has a team, although they seem to have played only one match. Tuvalu are also ranked at 193. I've been to Tuvalu and fully understand why they play all their games away. There is no room on any of the tiny atolls for a football pitch. Kids play sports on the airport runway instead!

posted by owlhouse at 04:50 PM on March 15, 2006

13th from Grr's link seems more reasonable than 5th, if a mite low for me. Wonder if the match next Wednesday will open any eyes if both teams play to recent form. And as for getting out of the group stage, remember the most likely opopnent for the #2 team in our group is Brazil. So even...

posted by billsaysthis at 07:53 PM on March 15, 2006

Best ranking ever is not going to help in the tournament. This one is Germany's show.

posted by wfsut at 08:57 PM on March 15, 2006

I agree the elo rankings are a little closer. However, I also think they are maybe a tad low. I think most of it has to do with coaching more than talent. We definitely are starting to grow talent over here, but Bruce Arena has been an amazing coach at every level he coached. I lived in Charlottesville when he coached at U of Virginia back in the 90's and would go watch those games. 5 NCAA titles (4 in a row I think), a couple MLS titles, and now the most successful coach ever for the US MNT. Jurgen Klinsman is what is wrong with Germany. I think we should be able to smack them around next week given their recent state of affairs. On the elo rankings, we had a thread about the time of the World Cup draw about all this and I culled a lot of stats on teams from the Elo site. In hind sight, I should've posted a link to share the site with you guys then, just didn't occur to me. I do think we can play with almost any team except Brazil so coming in second in our group will be a disaster (unless the Brazilians tank). Hopefully we can knock both Italy and the Czechs off (not to take anything away from Ghana) and face the number two team from Group F which would be a blessing looking at the difference between Brazil and any of the other teams there (Australia, Japan & Croatia). Not to knock any of those teams, but I fancy our chances against any of them.

posted by Ricardo at 09:00 PM on March 15, 2006

This are alot more accurate.... I agree - Burkina Faso would totally kick New Caledonia's ass. And the rankings reflect that. Incidentally, there are 227 ranked teams on that sheet and only about 197 countries on the planet. (The US State department recognizes 192). Futbol truly is universal.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:12 PM on March 15, 2006

#5? C'mon, I'm rooting for the US (and Brazil and England and any underdog who shows up) but this is ridiculous.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:26 PM on March 15, 2006

Weedy- The world rankings aren't quite counting countries. For instance, my understanding is that the UK is a country. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are not countries. So while the State dept counts it as 1 country, there are 4 different football teams. Of course, I might just be talking out of my ass. Apologies if that's the case.. Also, to stay more on topic, I think the #5 ranking for USA is somewhat ridiculous. But, to be honest, the rankings people don't have much to work with here. How can you accurately compare teams from different regions of the world? The only times they play each other seriously are in world cups.

posted by blarp at 10:05 PM on March 15, 2006

Another point. Looking at the Fifa rankings, there are only 9 points seperating Argentina at 4 and Portugal at 10. This would seem to indicate those positions are more or less interchangeable. This would place the US between 4 & 10 which I would agree with. Not to mention, the US were a whisker away from moving into the last 4 in 2002.

posted by Ricardo at 10:28 PM on March 15, 2006

*must not hijack thread to talk about US state department or foreign policy* I think that if the US is going to win the tournament, they're going to have to beat Brazil - better to play them straight out of the group than in the final (unless second place would somehow feel better than losing in the first round of the knockout stages - "You're the number one loser. OUt of everyone that lost, no one lost ahead of you."

posted by JJ at 02:39 AM on March 16, 2006

I think coming in second would be better in the long term by getting Americans not already in love with the beautiful game to become more interested. If this happens, it will only help our future player pool. *side not - I'm already making plans to go to Nashville to see the game vs Morocco

posted by Ricardo at 03:07 AM on March 16, 2006

The Fifa Rankings make about as much sense to the average person as the BCS. That being said, the US team benefits in soccer much the way Eastern European teams benefit in Basketball. Teams that should be powerful (ie England, France, Italy, and so on) underperform because they are too confident. Based on talent alone, England should never lose a game. Kind of like US basketball. But they do. The US team practices more together and plays harder than more established teams. Think of it like England is the Yankees and US is like (insert crappy team that wins championship against all odds). And "blarp"......There are several tournaments that take place between World Cups. There is a Championship tourney in every part of the world every two years (Pan-America and Euro Cup for example). World Cup Qualifiying takes roughly two years as well. Not that any of this matters because Brazil wins the damn thing every time any way. Screw it.

posted by kjones00 at 05:41 AM on March 16, 2006

"kjones00" (not sure why the quotes, but what the hell): Right, there are tournaments in each part of the world, but how does that help you compare teams from different parts of the world? Last I checked, the US wasn't involved in the African Cup of Nations or Asian qualifying for the world cup. So the US doesn't play those teams. So ranking the US against those teams is quite arbitrary.

posted by blarp at 07:44 AM on March 16, 2006

Weedy- The world rankings aren't quite counting countries. More than aware of this, sir - I just found it interesting that in Futbol there are more "national" teams (being representative of a people) than nations. I'm quite sure that is exclusive to this sport and no other. (Duchies and Principalities, oh my!) Hell, the UN couldn't field this many teams. Why, not interesting?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:57 AM on March 16, 2006

Since the rankings are based on what are essentially all-star teams (i.e. Arena has to have used over 100 players in his work-up to WC06), do you all think it makes sense (or is even fair) to rank them? In addition to MLS, we have 1st, 2d, & 3d tier European based players and he has used all of them. So are these more an assessment of the status of soccer in 200+ nations or actual teams? I think the former.

posted by willyboy23 at 09:52 AM on March 16, 2006

Why would Poland have better odds to win the tournament that the US after they lost the head to head match up a couple of weeks ago.

posted by trox at 01:30 PM on March 16, 2006

Because that was a friendly and, as such, (virtually), meaningless. Plus, Poland have a much easier group than the US do. Depending on the Ticos, I'd expect Poland to finish second in their group. The US have a tough group not only because of the teams in it, but also due to the order the games come up - They start against the Czechs who have a mix of flair and directness that stands them in good stead against pretty much anyone and then the US follow that up against an Italian side that will either be "up" from an easy opening day win or, should they start slow again with a poor opening performance, really "up" as a result of being slaughtered in the Italian press. Then, of course, if a draw is enough to take both Italy and the Czechs through at the expense of the US on matchday three, I know which result my money's going on.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:15 PM on March 17, 2006

Good points all by Mr Bismark. If the other teams are at something close to full strength, it will be a minor miracle for the U.S. to advance. Of course I never thought we would beat Portugal in the first group game in S. Korea either.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 08:46 PM on March 17, 2006

I have confidence that the US can beat the Czechs, but I would have more faith in your boys if the games had fallen in another order. If you'd opened with the must-win against Ghana, or against a slow-starting Italian side where a draw would have been a positive result, then I could see the US being a lot more threatening. As it is, that the runner up is likely to face a second round game against Brazil means no one is going to be fannying around and this is going to make it very hard for the US.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 04:33 AM on March 18, 2006

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