U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT finishes 2012 at No. 28 in FIFA rankings

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

The U.S. Men’s National Team managed a 2-2 draw on the road against highly-rated Russia last month, their last match of 2012, but that result didn’t keep the Americans from falling a spot in the final FIFA World Rankings of the year.

The USMNT finished up at No. 28 for the year, dropping one spot. Despite the slip, the United States finished the year ranked six points higher than they finished 2011.

Mexico also slipped a point in the final ranking of the year, finishing No. 15 in the world.

Colombia was the big mover in the top ten, climbing three places to No. 5 in the World while Spain remained No. 1. Among the more surprising falls in the rankings is Brazil, which has dropped five points to No. 18. Brazil joined Uruguay and Chile as South American sides that suffered five-point drops, slides propelled by poor World Cup qualifying results.

What do you think of the latest rankings?

Share your thoughts below.

    • Josh D

      Why? How many have England lost in the last two years? Their tournament play always leaves the country wanting, but they usually crush in qualifying and are soaring thus far.


      • Eurosnob

        I don’t know if England is soaring, since it trails mighty Montenegro in the WC group qualifiers, but England definitely padded its points total by playing in weaker groups in several tournaments (e.g. Euro 2012, WC 2010, several qualifying groups). The folks, who critique England’s high placement, look at the overall picture rather than at the formula behind the rankings. A top 10 team should be a legitimate contender to win a WC or Euro, but England is not.


      • Josh D

        Montenegro has been knocking at the door of major tournaments for two cycles now. I think they’ve been undefeated at home for awhile now.

        I don’t think England should be in the top 10, but I think anyone in the top 30 have reason to believe they should.

        England underachieve, but in qualifying they tend to do very well and as we all know, these rankings are based on the moment, but previous experience.

        That’s why Russia isn’t higher albeit short term they should be.


      • Thebumswillalwayslose

        I agree they’re overrated based on the eye/common sense test, but using the criteria that a top 10 team should be a legitimate contender to win a major tournament brings subjective factors into the rankings, and I’m pretty sure that “subjective” is equal to “can be bought and paid for” in the FIFA general lexicon.

        While we might disagree with the ranking system, it is the one thing in FIFA that is transparent and can be explained with certainty. Is it perfect? Definitely not. If you want to argue that certain games or competitions should be weighted differently, I’d agree and say that the formulas they use could be improved, but if you bring subjective factors into a FIFA-run system, you’re opening Pandora’s box.


      • AB

        Did you see them in the Euros? What a waste of talent. Crushing opponents in qualifying against the likes of San Marino and Maldova doesn’t warrant top 10 consideration. I don’t think many people with disagree with me that they’re overrated despite the talent on their bench – this team doesn’t have an identity yet.


      • OBRick

        What has England won since 1966? Also, I don’t understand all the Americans that support England but not their own country just because they watch the EPL.


      • THomas

        What have they won? Just about every qualifier for the World Cup and Euros in the past four years, just about every friendly, and they routinely progress to the last 16 or or quarterfinals of major tournaments. These rankings are more about consistency than potential at the next major tournament.

        But I also don’t get how Americans support England rather than the US just because they watch the EPL.


      • USsoccerfan90

        Brazil’s ranking is not really accurate since they are the WC host for 2014. Hosting means they do not have qualifying games, and they will continue to fall in the rankings.


  • az

    I wonder if our drop has more to do with Bosnia Herzegovina’s 4 point rise up to 27 than anything else?


    • Josh D

      I think we’ll always, or at least in the foreseeable future, be hampered by playing in one of the worst (easiest) confederations. Our qualifying wins just don’t add up.

      I think 28 is fair because I think teams ranked from 5 to 50 all have a chance on any given day, to beat one another so it’s a crap shoot. The beautiful thing about soccer is that any team can beat another.

      Are we better than Portugal or France or Belgium or Japan or Cameroon or Ghana or Mexico or Uruguay? No. But we also aren’t necessarily worse. We compete and that’s what matters most. What we don’t do is compete against the likes of this year’s version of Spain or Argentina or Germany or even Colombia (who I watch regularly). What we do is hold tight and bunker down. But there’s nothing wrong with that against those teams.

      Being in the top 10 makes sense for the WC and luckily, there’s plenty of time to get higher.


      • Philbin

        When I first saw the 5 to 50 comment, I thought you were crazy. Then I looked at the full rankings.

        While I disagree with the 5, I think anyone in the 20 – 50 range can beat anyone else on any given day, with the exceptions of a few outliers.

        With that said, if the USMNT (and their fans) think they deserves more respect, they have to be able to beat anyone in that 20-50 range regularly and in matches that matter. Along with that, the USMNT should be competing with the top 20.

        I think 28 suits us based on what we’ve done over the course of the year. Do I think we’re better than some ranked above? Yes. But there are also some ranked below us that probably deserve to be higher, too.


  • Charles

    It is like a report on a train wreck….I get half way through and think, why am I reading this ? Why do I bother, but I don’t turn away. Why ?

    These rankings make the BCS garbage look sane…and yet I read.

    I don’t do New Years resolutions, until now:
    I, Charles, resolve to never read another FIFA ranking, or FIFA ranking story, ever again.


  • Chris

    I used to think USA was ~15 and the FIFA ranking was off by a lot. Now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the beginning of the end for Donovan so the FIFA ranking makes sense.


    • Jake

      The ranking is based on past results, not subjective things like Donovan playing or not in the future… So I don’t get your comment at all.


    • DanO

      Are you implying Lando accounts for a 13 place difference in the standings??? Seems a little extreme given recent results in his absence…


      • THomas

        If Donovan is worth 13 places…imagine if we lost Bradley. We’d be out of the top 50!!!


    • Dan M

      Donowho? He’s one our best, but he rose to the top at at time when there wasn’t a lot of competition. We have a much fatter pipeline now and while none of these guys have shone quite as brightly as Lando did in his formative years, the team is so much better than Lando’s WC teams from years past. “Chris” must be Landon’s mom’s online avatar.


  • Good Jeremy

    28 seems about right, maybe a bit high, but makes up for some of the impossibly good ratings we have had before. Even as our stars age, we beat Italy in Italy and Mexico in Mexico last year (yeah yeah, friendlies) so it looks like we are getting stronger mentally.


  • 2tone

    Probably about right for the U.S. By the time the WC comes around the U.S. will be anywhere from 20 to 25.


  • Shane

    Haiti and #39 ahead of the likes of Turkey, Egypt, Slovenia, Ireland, Ukraine, Nigeria. Anyone know how that happened.


    • THomas

      I think it’s because the Caribbean Championships just took place and they were doing well I could be wrong, but that would provide a boost against idle teams or teams who have lost recently.


  • Tom Traubert

    These ratings are generally a joke…England is not a top ten side on their best day. USMNT probably should be about 20ish. After qualifying we’ll end up between 15 and 20. In the end it doesn’t mean shit since we won’t be a top seed at the WC i.e. getting a favorable group.


  • A

    Seriously people, stop commenting as if the ratings are subjective. It is a system that assigns ratings based on the quality of your wins which are thusly determined by the win-loss of your opponent and so on and so forth. Official matches are assigned more importance and tournaments even more so.

    People complain about England consistently being ranked in the top 10 are simply letting their own subjective biases cloud their comment. The system computes everyone’s ratings the same way and England wins a lot, and I mean a lot, of official matches, especially in qualifying for Euro and World Cup tournaments. The system works and gives a fairly accurate picture as a whole. In some cases teams fall through the crack–like Brazil since they have no qualifying matches to keep their rankings higher.

    That’s fine. No system can accommodate all issues. You can look at that and say, okay we know why they’re down there and it is an external issue–not a problem with the system itself.


    • THomas

      Also with the US being ranked in the top 5 or so leading up to World Cup 2006 since we participate in a tournament every 2 years and often win it.

      It’s not meant to gauge who is going to perform well in the next World Cup, that’s what the tournament is for. It’s for us to be able to compare countries across the world who during the long void between World Cups.


      • Henry

        Actually it is to allocate places in tournaments. Countries with higher rankings tend to become seeds or exempt from rounds of qualification for the World Cup.


  • THomas

    What’s funny is that we’ll jump up after the Gold Cup because we’ll have won ‘competitive’ matches even though Mexico will field a B-team after being involved in the Confederations Cup.

    Regardless, FIFA and most federations use these rankings when drawing for tournaments to like them or not, they matter.


  • bottlcaps

    A long while back I posted the formula on which FIFA awards points towards the rankings. It is complicated but, a careful examination of it, showed where you can “game” the system to acquire more points.

    It lead to one of my my biggest beefs against then Bob Bradley. He would routinely schedule friendlies against higher placed teams and then cobble together teams of marginal players from the MLS and fringe players from Europe. Of course, the US lost these friendlies and as a result sunk lower and lower. Then Mexico also lost steam after a series of “dos y zero” losses to the US, it sunk too in the FIFA rankings, it had a combined effect of lowering the whole Concacaf regions score/ranking below Africa and Asia. As a federations rank is a multiplier of points, Wins against Concacaf teams meant little to increase the US rankings. Asian teams learned to “game’ the system by scheduling friendlies against African and lower ranked European teams, and so gained more points, that, not only kept their confederation above Concacaf, but even kept them above the US.

    In other words, once we dug ourselves a hole in the FIFA rankings, it is extremely hard to dig yourselves out, especially with other confederation teams shoveling more dirt into your hole.

    The US had a pretty good year, it beat or tied some excellent teams ranked above them, even in away games. But it only gained a few points, as a bulk of it’s games were against Concacaf region opponents. There was once a time when the US came within a hair’s breath of actually gaining a seed in the WC. That is a distant dream now. This makes a BIG difference in who the US will face in group stage and all the way to the finals.

    An example of this would be the last WC when the US, by winning it’s group against England, acquired England’s seed. Had the US beat Ghana, a team roughly equal to them in FIFA ranking, it would have faced Uruguay, a team the US had beat before, and would have but the US into the Semi’s. It would have been, the easiest seed/draw the US has had to the Semi’s….ever.

    If the US is ever to get to the World Cup finals or even semi’s it will need good players, but sometimes you need more than that, you need the luck of the draw, which unfortunately for the US,will be elusive with it;s current rankings.


    • Henry

      You are wrong about the coefficient for inter-confederation matches. The coefficient is not determined by all matches between confederations, it only counts the matches in the World Cup (page 2 paragraph 1 “Calculation of Points”PDF) http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/fifafacts/r&a-wr/52/00/97/fs-590_10e_wrpoints.pdf).
      If we want our confederation’s coefficient to improve, we need countries besides Mexico and USA to win matches in the World Cup or hope the 4th place team in loses the inter-confederation qualifier to minimize the matches played.


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