U.S. Men's National Team

USA down to 29 in FIFA rankings

USA (ISIphotos)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

The U.S. men's national team didn't play a game this past month, but other nations merited enough of a boost to drop the Americans a couple of spots in the latest FIFA rankings.

The U.S. men fell from 27 — the highest ranking achieved so far during the Jurgen Klinsmann era — down to 29 in the rankings released on Wednesday, the penultimate world standings prior to when the United States takes to the field again in friendlies against Scotland and Brazil next month.

Colombia and the Czech Republic both leapfrogged the United States, which remains the second-highest ranked team in CONCACAF. Mexico rose two spots to No. 20, while El Salvador climbed nine places to move past Panama to 49th and become the third-highest-ranked team in the region.

After Panama, the next-highest-ranked CONCACAF teams in order are Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, Haiti and Canada. The U.S. men's World Cup qualifying opponents in June, Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda, are 82nd and 100th in the world, respectively. 

Spain remained atop the world rankings, but the world champions are now trailed by No. 2 Germany and No. 3 Uruguay. The ranking for Uruguay is the highest in the nation's history. The Netherlands fell from second to No. 4 and is followed by Portugal, Brazil, England, Croatia, Denmark and Argentina to round out the top 10.


What's your take on the latest rankings? Think the CONCACAF standings are about right?

Share your thoughts below.

  • BSU SC

    FIFA rankings mean absolutely nothing. Does anyone actually care about the rankings?


  • soccerroo

    seems odd that you could change spots when no one has played a game since 2/29/12. This is why very few people put much behind FIFA Rankings.


  • 2tone

    Sense when did the FIFA rankings start taking youth tournaments in account. It seems to me that FIFA based these new rankings off of the CONCACAF Olympic tournament which is a fallacy. If they are going to base rankings off of youth tournament showings as well then they need to start making these CONCACAF youth tournaments a FIFA sanctioned tournament, so the U.S. can start bringing their best players. The U-20’s didn’t have their best players last year, and the U-23’s didn’t have their best players for the U-23 tournament do to the players clubs not allowing them to come to the tournament’s. If the U.S. has D.Williams, Morales, Gatt, Chandler, and Altidore on the field it’s a completely different outcome fact.


  • Chris

    +1…Agreed 100% and you know they had to have taken the youth tournaments into consideration. Otherwise we beat Italy in Italy and Mexico loses to Colombia here in the states and they go up and we go down…perfect sense.


  • OmarVizquel

    Normally there are 10 teams that no one disputes are top 10 teams. And the next 35 or so teams could probably play each other 100 times and come out even Steven.

    I know that in the past the WC pots have been based on FIFA rankings, but until we get closer to Brazil it’s not a big deal. And even then it might not matter one iota.


  • The Imperative Voice

    The rank means something at certain points in the cycle — however silly it seems generally — because it is used for seeding purposes by various soccer governing bodies. Though the reality is in CONCACAF the pecking order is pretty stable, you can move up or down and it doesn’t really matter because we are automatically in tournament x and safely between teams for tournament y.

    Supposedly the ranks run on a 4 year cycle with old games falling off. So presumably we lost a month’s worth of results in March 4 years ago. Poland? Matters that much?

    I think it’s silly but from my NCAA experience rankings tend to get used, no matter how goofy they are.


  • 2tone

    Exactly. They also moved El Slavador up 9 places. You know they were moved up because of the U-23 Olympic qualifying tournament.


  • Matt S

    To be honest, sounds about right. We are a team that has a chance of beating any team in the world but could just as easily get smashed by them. We are still rebuilding and are in between cycles so I’m not too worried if we go up or down too much.


  • Joe

    The fact that england never moves from the top 10, no matter how much they lose is a disgrace. England is AWFUL, always will be (when they wear that shirt). That pisses me off


  • wilyboy

    Somehow, an algorithm that places “we haven’t done anything lately but torch our stadiums” Greece at #14 leaves me unimpressed.


  • WFRW

    It has nothing to do with the U-23s. The FIFA ranking are a mathematical ranking only. It may be dumb, but they don’t use two youth tournaments. Results have fallen off. For us, it was a win at Poland. For El Salvador, it was a win and two loses against Venezuela and T+T, so their score went up. Not that difficult a concept really.


  • Jya

    I honestly can’t believe 3 people posted that before someone corrected them just wow.


  • cy

    For the record in the past four years England has a record of 27-7-6 in all matches. Combined with the fact that they’ve done very well in qualifying for the 2010 WC and Euro 2012 which are valued at 2.5x a friendly its not really a shock that they’re always in the top 10.


  • DanO

    Did someone cut and post the same thread of comments from last month, and the month before that, and the one before that????


  • Annelid Gustator

    To be fair, they do mean something then–which is to say, more or less, only if you are in the top 8-12 does it matter at all.


  • NC Jeff

    You would think so, but rankings don’t mean much unless you get seeded. For 2014, you’ll probably (again) see the draw go something like this: Pot 1: Seeded teams, Pot 2: Remaining UEFA teams (+1 AFC team), Pot 3: unseeded CONMEBOL and remaining CAF teams, Pot 4: CONCACAF and AFC teams.

    Thus, unless your ranking helps you get seeded, rankings don’t mean much at the draw. As a matter of fact, the USMNT could completely dominate in qualifying and STILL pull a WC Grouping with Spain, Russia, and Argentina.


  • Cesar Alvarez

    People like you that cheer for the US national squad are the people that care. If they were ranked in the top 10, you’d love these rankings! Hope they don’t qualify to WC!!


  • Chris

    Don’t think that’s always the case. I think I remember a time going into one of the World Cups (2002 or 2006) when the US actually did have a FIFA ranking that put it in the top 8, but FIFA decided not to give it a seed anyway. Remember before they announced the pots that some countries were not going to be happy (and I think afterwards specifically mentioned that they were talking about the US).

    Please feel free to correct me if I’m getting details of this wrong. Think it was the 2006 World Cup.


  • BSU SC

    True in theory, but the reality is that it’s only meaningful for the top European teams. Coming out of Concacaf, it’s likely that the rankings will never have much of an impact on how the 3 automatic qualifiers from this region are seeded.


  • BSU SC

    %99 of fans are going to base judgement for the quality of our USMNT on performance at the World Cup. I would rather have our team on the semi-finals of the tournament than ranked in the top 4 of the FIFA rankings. I could care less where they rank the US. This isn’t college football.


  • marco

    Being placed in pot A, seeded, not having one of the other top 8 teams in your group is an advantage to me.


  • Neruda

    This is like the horror version of ground hogs day because it’s like waking up to Seth Blatters fat face and halitosis ridden breath next to you in bed. AAAHHHHHH!


  • bryan

    seriously, i don’t understand why the comments continue to be “FIFA rankings don’t make sense”. we all know. yet it’s the same comments every time.

    did mexico play at all? i didn’t think that they did. but they must have if they moved up 2 spots. given the USA dropped because they didn’t play.


  • Charles

    In 10 years, US still won their World Cup Group.

    And no one will care 1 bit about this FIFA ranking.


  • david m

    There are many problems with the system. But my main is that, for example, you can play Spain on the road, play them very tough, play a great game, lose 2-3, and get 0 points. But if you barely beat Antigua at home 1-0, playing very lousy, you will get over a hundred points.


  • Big Chil

    Yes, in 2006, the U.S. was ranked #5 by the mathematical formula at the time of the World Cup draw. Unfortunately, this left Italy out of the top 8 seeds and Pot A, which made FIFA & its Italians unhappy, so they changed the draw seeding formula at the last minute to include “recent past performances at the World Cup,” which, voila, magically moved Italy into Pot A and the USA out 😉


  • Big Chil

    The FIFA rankings are objective in the sense that they’re a mathematical formula (available on the FIFA website) so anyone can calculate the effects of any given game.

    The formula is P = M x I x T x C

    P = points
    M = match (win (3) or draw (1))
    I = importance:

    Friendlies = 1
    WC or confederation qualifiers = 2.5
    Continental finals (UEFA 2012, Gold Cup, Confed Cup) = 3.0
    World Cup = 4.0

    T = strength of opponent (200 – rank of opponent, min val = 50)

    C = strength of confederation

    UEFA & CONMEBOL = 1.00
    CONCACAF = 0.88
    AFC & CAF = 0.86
    OFC = 0.85

    In other words, beating Italy in that friendly earned the USA ~

    P = 3 (win) x 1 (friendly) x 191 (Italy 200-9) x 1 (UEFA) = 673 points

    However, points earned 4 years ago this month expire, those from 3 years ago are counted at 3/4, 2 years ago 1/2, and last March at 1/4.

    This explains why a team, without playing, can actually lose points in a given month.

    More below:


  • Big Chil

    Look at the list of top ranked teams:

    1. Spain 1442 points
    2. Germany 1345 points
    3. Uruguay 1309 points

    20 Mexico 868 points

    28. Slovenia 781 points
    29. USA 779 points
    30. Japan 753 points

    European and South American teams simply have more opportunities to earn points, keeping their rankings higher.

    European teams are playing & qualifying for the UEFA & World Cup every two years. That’s a lot of games against higher ranked opponents than we get for our continental qualification.

    I don’t think Slovenia, Bosnia, and Greece are better teams than the USA on paper, but they have the opportunity to earn more points and are thus ranked higher.


  • Big Chil

    In order to be ranked in the top 10 right now, the USA would need 1067 points, a jump of 288 points.

    Missing out on the opportunity to earn points at the Confed Cup is a big blow.

    The Europeans and South Americans will be earning higher points during their continental championships and WC qualifying than we do, due to higher strength of opponent and confederation.

    In the past, however, by the time qualification is done, we’ve typically had ~1000 points, just knocking on the door of a top 10 ranking.

    At the time of the draw (Oct. 2009 rankings) for South Africa 2010, the USA was ranked #11 with 1025 points.

    1 team ahead of us (Croatia) did not qualify, leaving us effectively the #10 seed.

    The hosts (South Africa) got one slot in Pot A, and ranks #1-7 were seeded.

    The #7 seed was England, with 1101 points.

    The USA was only 77 points away from being a seeded team in Pot A, provided that FIFA didn’t pull the shenanigans it did in 2006.

    Can we get that close again this cycle? Possibly, by winning the vast majority of our games in qualifying AND the “meaningless” off year Gold Cup 2013 to pad our points.

    We earn fewer points per win, but the UEFA and CONMEBOL are tougher confeds to win in.

    For example

    WCQ USA beats Guatemala = +785
    WCQ USA draws Guatemala = +420

    WCQ England beats Croatia = +1440
    WCQ Slovenia beats Slovakia = +1237


  • Big Chil

    I got the weighting of past points wrong.


    2009 20%
    2010 30%
    2011 50%
    2012 100%


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