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USMNT jump six places to No. 13 in latest FIFA Rankings

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For the first time under U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the team has broken into the top 15 in FIFA’s World Rankings.

Based on their 1-1 record in the last 30 days, the USMNT jumped six places to No. 13 in the FIFA Rankings, one place behind Greece and ahead of Switzerland, Russia, and Chile, in that order. The USA remains the only CONCACAF nation in the top 20, as Mexico dropped one place to No. 21.

There was also movement all across the top ten, as Argentina and Italy both moved up two places each to No. 2 and No. 4 respectively, while the Netherlands fell four spots to No. 9 and Uruguay made a late dash into No. 7. The top five is currently still with Spain at the top, followed by Argentina, Germany, Italy, and Colombia. Belgium has it’s highest ranking ever in sixth place.

Within CONCACAF, outside of the U.S. and Mexico, Costa Rica soared nine places to No. 33, Panama moved up five spots to No. 35, and Honduras improved three places to No. 40.

What do you think of this news? Do you agree with the U.S.’s overall ranking? Do you feel the U.S. should be higher? Impressed with CONCACAF moving up the rankings list?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. For Brazil, we should just stop calling them “group of death”, and just call ’em what they are: “the mathematical inevitability of a flawed ranking system.”

  2. I really don’t understand why FIFA doesn’t build a better formula. It wouldn’t be that difficult.

    – I see no justification for regional strength weights. A team isn’t any easier or tougher simply because they come from a weaker or stronger region. This should be done away with altogether.

    – The multipliers for match status are totally arbitrary. There should be multipliers for match status, but they should be based on the importance and difficulty of the competition. There should be a single formula for determining the match status multiplier, using as inputs the team rankings of all the teams in the competition. This should correlate with competition importance and difficulty – qualification competitions will have more teams with lower rankings, so qualifying will naturally have a lower multiplier than finals. It will also take account of the fact that all regional competitions are not created equal – winning a match in Oceania WCQ is not the same as winning a match in UEFA WCQ. It can be scaled so that friendlies retain a multiplier of 1 and all other competitions are above 1. The only difference should be an extra increase in the multiplier for World Cup and Confed Cup matches (otherwise they might end up with lower multipliers than the Euros or Copa America). Make the Confed Cup multiplier twice what the formula says, and make the WC three times. That might seem arbitrary, but it’s necessary, both to reinforce the importance of those competitions and to give strong teams from the weaker confederations a chance to boost their rankings.

    – Location should absolutely be reintroduced as a factor. If there have been any studies done showing a correlation between home field advantage and distance from home for the away team, then location can be based purely on distance. Otherwise, the multiplier can be simply home/away/neutral, based on whatever the numbers say the advantage/disadvantage is.

    – Goals should also absolutely be reintroduced as a factor. You can weight them logarithmically instead of linearly if you want to reduce the incentive to run up the score. But dominant performances should not be treated as equal to lucky squeaker wins.

    – One big flaw of the current formula is that it takes into account opponent strength, but doesn’t factor in whether the opponent is playing its best players. It would be simple to fix this by factoring in, say, the number of caps in the past year or two of the players who take the field (weighted by minutes played), and the number of matches the team has played in the past year or two (cap opportunities). I think caps are an imperfect but pretty solid proxy for team selection strength. You then use the cap factor as a multiplier for ranking to arrive at a more accurate opposition strength. This would take care of realities the system doesn’t currently account for, like some teams not taking some Gold Cups seriously. If Mexico sends a U-23 team but Panama sends their first team, their strength factors are adjusted accordingly.

    Ultimately it’s impossible to build a perfect ranking system. There will always be things the system can’t account for. But as long as ranking matters for World Cup seeding, FIFA should endeavor to improve how it’s done. It really wouldn’t be difficult to hire some statisticians to develop a system like the one I suggest. My only guess is that the dinosaurs at FIFA are averse to numbers and are interested primarily in simplicity.

    • “I really don’t understand why FIFA doesn’t build a better formula.”

      How do you define “better”?

      FIFA’s current system is designed to maximize revenue. They are doing phenomenally well at it. Tweaking their system so that the USA—a country where soccer is a minority interest—isn’t going to increase their revenue.

      • Sports fans love rankings—156 comments on this post alone. All the headlines, all the fussing, all the publicity is free advertising for FIFA’s product.

        But when I said, “FIFA’s current system is designed to maximize revenue,” I was not referring to it publishing a ranking system. I was referring to its current system of guaranteeing that certain teams (viz., those from revenue-generating* countries) are more likely to go further in the tournament. It does that, in part, by gerrymandering the so-called rankings. The ranking system allows FIFA to put on the guise that this is entirely a sporting event and not a calculated business venture.

        * They don’t have to be from “wealthy” countries. FIFA would loathe to see, for example, Qatar and UAE advance to the semis because even though they are wealthy countries, people around the world would not tune in. Argentina, on the other hand, is comparably poor but generates huge viewership—and therefore revenue.

      • If you don’t think the U.S. would draw a big number both domestically and internationally if it advanced deep in the tournament, then you haven’t been paying attention.

      • The rankings do currently rank the U.S. as 13th, which puts them just a hair’s breadth outside the top ten. That certainly seems to me to be a generous ranking.

      • “If you don’t think the U.S. would draw a big number…”

        It’s not a question of a “big” number. It’s a question of a *bigger* number. Would you settle for $20M if you could have $30M?

        It’s safe to expect soccer fans in a given country to watch whenever their country’s team plays. But since soccer is still a minority sport in the US (and because many of the US-based soccer fans are actually Mexico fans) it means that despite our larger population we don’t pull in more domestic viewers for USMNT appearances than, for examples, Germans watching Germany or English watching England. At best, we’re on equal ground in this respect.

        The real money, however, is in how many people from *other* countries tune in to watch. Do you think more worldwide viewers would tune in for Germany v USA than Germany v France? or USA v Brazil than Italy v Brazil?

        The “rankings” that matter to FIFA are the rankings of country *popularity/interest*, not country dominance or quality or whatever. On that popularity/interest scale, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Holland, England, Argentina, Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Uruguay, etc, etc rank much, much higher than the USA.

  3. seriously? was the Mexico game included? FIFA’s website says:

    “All matches played up to and including 10 September have been taken into account for the current edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.”

    but SBI, and other places, are saying that game is not included. even FIFA’s Prediction Calculator still has the Mexico game in for the October rankings, along with the Jamaica and Panama games. i’m so confused.

  4. Responding to comments I started below:

    It would be extraordinarily unfair to the USA to be placed in a Pool with six of the eight lowest ranked teams in the tournament, which is what would happen if FIFA casually lumped together CONCACAF and AFC. Why shouldn’t it be possible for the USA to play one of these lower ranked AFC teams? Gulati better bust his butt to make sure this doesn’t happen.

    Based on current FIFA rankings and standings in UEFA (which could of course still change), here are the Pools based strictly on ranking (generously assuming Mexico gets in):

    1: Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay
    2: Holland, Croatia, Portugal, Greece, USA, Switzerland, Russia, Chile
    3: England, Bosnia, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Mexico, Sweden, Ghana, Algeria
    4: Costa Rica, Nigeria, Honduras, Japan, Cape Verde Islands, Iran, Australia, S. Korea

    The method for the draw to avoid three teams from UEFA or two teams from any other confederation is not difficult:

    – When drawing Pool 2, ensure that Chile is not available to be drawn into pools with other CONMEBOL teams.

    – When drawing Pool 3, ensure that the three UEFA teams in this pool are not drawn into any pool with two UEFA teams already; Ecuador is not drawn into a CONMEBOL group, and Mexico is not drawn into USA’s group.

    – When drawing pool 4, the only conflicts left are with the two CONCACAF team (CR and Hon) and two African teams. Simple to avoid these conflicts.

    The only trick is to avoid a situation where a team can’t be placed into any of the remaining groups. For example, Honduras has not yet been drawn and the only two groups remaining are USA’s and Mexico’s. You have to make sure to place Honduras before this happens: Honduras would automatically go into the third-to-last group.

    A junior high student could write a computer algorithm to provide instructions for the draw.

    • What fun is it if a computer does the draw?

      Still too many what-ifs. Here’s yet another one: This solution works for now because you make assumptions about how qualifying is going to end. What if Uruguay bombs out, Russia gains a top seed, and Egypt beats Tunisia (replacing Cape Verde) to qualify? Although it’s unlikely, your method could place us in the following group:

      Russia, USA, Egypt, Iran
      World War 3 will be fought on and off the pitch.

      • Your comment is not worth response on any level. No draw system is supposed to be designed to avoid one specific outcome.

        I just want a system where the better teams are not given a pre-determined disadvantage.

      • Yet, you responded to it…. And by the way, there are several draw mechanisms in place to avoid political conflict among many countries… Consider the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying tournament, where Armenia and Azerbaijan could not be drawn against each other, nor could Georgia and Russia.

        And you want a system where the better teams are not given a “predetermined disadvantage”… so why doesn’t the current system work for you again? In the current system, better teams get an advantage because they are guaranteed not to play any of the other 8 best teams. The rest of the teams are mediocre. I know you would like to protect them, but you are dreaming at this point, and things will not change for a long, long time.

  5. NBC just completely mucked up the 23 man projected lineup for Brazil. There will changes in form, changes in injury status and new players on the radar that we aren’t really considering right now.

    3 Keepers: Howard, Guzan, Rimando not much controversy here.

    6 Defenders made up of: 3 CB’s and 3 Fullbacks
    Pure Centerbacks Defenders: Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson
    Missed Cut: John Brooks, Bocanegra and Orosco Fiscal. Brooks has the better shot at this point of making the final 23. He will be competing with Goodson. Cameron’s versatility allows US to keep only 3 pure CB’s. Boca has aged too fast and Orosco isn’t truly world class.

    Fullbacks DM Beasley, Brad Evans, Steve Cherundolo
    Missed Cut; Parkhurst (because he just isn’t quite good enough), Chandler (because he doesn’t seem to care), Lichaj (because Klinnsman doesn’t seem to like him), If Cherundolo isn’t back one of these RB’s make the team. Recent selections say it will be Parkhurst, but it is too hard to call.

    2 Tweener’s: Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson are both Tweeners for me. Klinnsman has shown he is willing to play both of them in either role.

    6 Midfielders:
    Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Alejandro Bedoya, Graham Zusi, Mixx Diskerud this gives 3 CM’s and 3 wingers
    Missed cut:
    Beckerman, Corona, Castillo, Shea, Kjestian, Edu, Gatt. Toughest calls are here. Personally I’m not impressed with Castillo or Corona. Edu and Gatt have fallen down the depth chart as they struggle with injuries. Beckerman, Kjestian and Shea are on the edge and could crack the 23. With Fabian and Cameron giving you depth in midfield, I think these guys just barely miss the cut.

    4 Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Aron Johnansson

    Missed the cut:
    AJ is the last man in here. Terrance Boyd and Herculez Gomez both have a real shot of beating him to this spot. Wondolowski, McInnery just aren’t ready to be in the real discussion yet.

    • I agree on all points. Edu and Shea have a legit chance to make the squad, but they need to start putting it together…I think Sasha is capable of robbing Mixx’s spot. But man…It seems like Mixx is money every time he plays for USMNT. Will be fun to see how JK will use these final tune up games to determine who makes the cut.

    • Agree with your choices but isn’t that only 21/23? From your “missed the cuts” think I’d add Beckerman and either Carona or Sasha at this point to round out the 23.

      • you’re right. Somehow when I moved Cameron and Fabian into my “tweener” category I deleted 2 spots. So we have flexibility with 2 more. Brooks, Beckerman, Shea, Klejstan, Herc?

        I think for my money I like 1 more CM.. That means Beck or Sasha.
        I’d take Sasha over Beckerman because he can play some other spots and has better club level experience. I know Beckerman has played well lately and I wouldn’t have a problem with this going the other way.
        I like one more attacking option. I’m thinking Herc, Shea or Boyd.
        I’m going to take Shea, because he is the scariest of the 3. The most unpredictable and probably the most talented. We’ve got to have some high upside guys available.

  6. Of course, FIfa’s ranking system is nonsense, but one can only play the hand that is dealt.

    In that case, it’s important to get as highly ranked as possible going into a WC year. Interestingly, based ONLY on 2013 points earned, the 8 top teams are:

    Colombia 793
    Belgium 785
    Spain 676
    Argentina 651
    USA 648
    Bosnia 644
    Brazil 738
    Netherlands 628

    Noone else has 600. What this means is that the US has built a base of points that will positively impact their ranking for the next few years.

  7. Rankings are fun to talk about, but what we all care about is how teams are going to be seeded, and how they do in the World Cup 2014.

    That being said, all of this overlooks one of the most important factors. Homefield. No Euro team has won it out of their hemisphere. The US has stunk in Europe ( although Italy ’90 was a relative stink ). I don’t think it was a coincidence the US did the best in a “neutral” place where almost everyone of note had to travel. Beat a great England team in Brazil too. Since then we have had two Euro WCups and SA ( long ways away ).

    I put the US as a top ten team in Brazil for sure, if there aren’t ten South American teams there. Now they need to make that come true by making the round of 8 at worst.

  8. I checked last night. If we would have beaten Costa Rica 1-0 we would have 1043 points right now, ranked 11th and only 83 points behind 7 ranked Uruguay. Oh well, at this point we are 130 points behind Uruguay, do you see us being able to make up the difference?

  9. What nonsense. Belgium #6? USA #13? Does anyone seriously believe that Brazil and the Netherlands are the 8th and 9th best teams in the world at present? Or that England, France, and Ghana are all worse than us at the moment?

    These rankings are worth ZERO. I’m sure the next time we have a big game against Ghana, we would be fools to think that we are better than them, especially considering they have a tendency to knock us out of big competitions when the chips are down and the games really matter.

    • The Fifa rankings are worth A LOT Period. Whether we agree or disagree about the methods to calculate doesn’t matter. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the FIFA Rankings however, if the Rakings will play a role (like it did in 2010) to determine the World Cup seeds then it is obvious that this ranking is crucial for us.

      We want to get a good group? then we need to do well in the FIFA rankings.

      The have the talent to get out of the group stage but why risk it by ending up a possible group of death?

      The ranking can be worthless but it does matter a lot. Its all about looking at the big picture.

      • It only matters for the top 8 seeds. The US is NOT getting one of those. When you look at the likely seeds, it will either be 5 European teams and 3 South American teams or 6 Euros and 2 South America (depending on if they give #3 Colombia a seed since they were not at previous World Cups). If it is 5 and 3, that sets up a seeded pot, the remaining 8 Euro teams in a pot, the 4 CONCACAF teams (or 3+New Zealand) with the 4 Asian teams (assuming Jordan loses to the #5 South America team), and the remaining 3 South American teams in a pot with the 5 African nations.

      • Again, people misunderstand the world cup seeding process. For south africa, the top 7 teams in the october 2009 fifa rankings were placed in pot 1 along with the host nation.

        The remaining pots were determined by confederation. UEFA placed 5 teams in the seeded pot, and the other 8 went into pot 4.

        So france (ranked 9th in oct 09) and portugal (10th) were given the same consideration as slovenia (49th). The usmnt (11th) were treated just like honduras (35th).

        If fifa use the same process for brazil, then being ranked 13th is meaningless unless 5 teams ahead of us fail to qualify.

    • Yes, the rankings don’t reflect reality all that well. That said, if you think Belgium at #6 is nonsense, you haven’t been paying attention. That team is incredibly good.

  10. FIFA needs to stop doing the pots by region, and start doing them by rank or some other formula. Then make it so teams can’t be drawn in the same group as a team from their region, similar to the Champions League draw.

    • I especially agree because it would add to more diversity among the groups. Going in, we could know we will get a seed, a team from Europe, and a team from either South America or Africa. It is really not right to set the pots up to guanantee a team from South America can’t be drawn with a team from Africa because they are in the same pot or a team from CONCACAF can’t be drawn with an Asian team because they are in the same pot. 85 days until the draw!

  11. Per Simon Borg- FIFA will decide about seeded teams 3 days prior to the draw for the WC. Which means anyone that is using the FIFA rankings for seeding right now could be wrong. FIFA may not use the same system for seeding that was used for 2010 i.e. FIFA Rankings.

    • The US was really highly ranked going into the 2006 world cup, when FIFA decided the seeding would be based on the previous 2 world cups, which included our disastrous 1998 showing. Anyone who thinks that FIFA won’t just pick the rankings that give them the answer that they wanted is deluding themselves.

    • Translation: Well decide on how to seed teams so that it comes out the way we want once we get close enough. Don’t count on anything with FIFA. A blind monkey would be just a good (or maybe Paul the octopus if he’s still around).

    • One of the interesting thought puzzles of present performance is whether Klinsi maximizes our abilities or just somehow gets by. He renders it academic on the field –at least this round (though last round was actually a tighter squeeze) — but with some of the people he starts and calls in, it’s like, could this be even better? Or does he just have a grip on exactly the right personnel that we just don’t catch? EJ, Parkhurst, Goodson, etc.

      For example, they got off some early shots on Howard but then started crossing like mad into Gonzo and Goodson who had a field day. Those two have often proved vulnerable in other games but sufficed for the day. Genius or coaching luck?

      I mean, if I was playing Mexico, even at home, last idea I have, even playing shorthanded, is start EJ at striker.

    • In a addition to all the recent results, the US’s 5-0 loss to Mexico at home in the 2009 Gold Cup final is finally outside the time range of the rankings, which probably gave us a relative boost and Mexico a relative drop.

    • These rankings are such a joke that I am not sure if you are joking or not…either of you.

      Pretty funny even if you are just stating facts.

  12. well we know the plan is to host Spain so long as they end up in first in qualifying. the back up appears to be Scotland in Scotland. but i agree with everyone else, lets get an away friendly in South America against a team like Chile, Colombia, or Uruguay. i’d like to see an away game against Japan or South Korea as well and a home game against an African team like Ivory Coast or Ghana.

    • Dream World Cup scenario:

      Group Stage with Ivory Coast, win group and knock IC out with 2-0 victory.

      Second Round vs Costa Rica: USA up 1-0 in 75th minute, Campbell picks up second yellow in 80th minute for simulation, USA go on to beat 10-man CR 3-0.

      Quarters: Ghana. In a match that sees 12 yellow cards and 2 reds, USA wins 4-3 off a cross from Cherundolo (that’s right!) to Beckerman (right again!) who heads it down and back to Bradley, who volleys a rocket from outside the box in the 125th minute.

      Semis: USA up 1-0 at half; Brazil comes back to win 3-2—because not even in my dreams would the USA beat Brazil at home. But still, we’d get see a game against Brazil 🙂

  13. Do we know the seeding procedure for the draw? That hasn’t been announced yet, right? Or did I just miss it? Because unless they change the seeding procedure from last cup, we aren’t going to be seeded. As much as I want us to be.

    • Assuming they leave the seeding the same as 2010 (and I’ve seen no indication they won’t), it’ll be host (Brazil) and the top 7 in Pot 1, with the other pots arranged by confederations. If they reverted to 2006 format, it’s the same thing because Brazil are a top 8 team anyway. Fifa has never arranged Pots 2-4 by anything other than geography in the 32-team era, and to do so would be a major shift they (presumably) would’ve announced at this point.

      That said, there’s almost no chance we are in Pot 1. The draw is in December, and with only Jamaica and Panama on the October slate, we probably would not be able to justify a jump over all of the squads in front of us by that time – it doesn’t appear we’ve scheduled any big friendlies in November.

      • Well actually the Mexico game was not included in this ranking, so factoring in that win, if we win our last two qualifying games, we may actually crack the top 10 by the time the next ranking comes around.

        Not sure how likely this is, the whole ranking system is beyond comprehension, but i don’t think it is completely impossible to reach pot 1

      • I stand corrected on the point about Mexico. I think it’s highly unlikely, but not impossible to break into Pot 1 by the time of the draw.

      • Alex: “the whole ranking system is beyond comprehension”

        That is precisely why it is “completely impossible [for the USMNT] to reach pot 1.” FIFA would not like that (for economic reasons), and so they will make sure that it doesn’t happen.

      • The ranking system can be comprehended. They use 4 numbers to make the final score. One for each of the last four years. 50% of the weight being on 2013. Each individual year score is an average of the points taken from each official game played that year. The points for Qualifiers are much higher than friends, and playing high ranking European clubs is worth more than playing lower ranked teams elsewhere in the world. There really is very little the US can do to increase their score. They only have 2 more high value games left, and they play the worst two remaining teams in CONCACAF. Friendlies add very little to their final score, so scheduling games against Argentina and Spain won’t do much. The simple story is, there is zero chance the US climbs into the top 7. Where they would need to be, to get seeded.

      • Justin, you are absolute right. Just to make a note on your final comment, scheduling a big friendly isn’t going to do much for our ranking. In fact, even scheduling and beating Spain (#1 in rankings) would hurt our ranking more than not playing a game at all. The math is weird, but if you do well in Qualification and your own confederations championship games, then friendlies end up hurting your overall # of points assigned for 2013. Of course friendlies do the same thing to everyone, but someone like Mexico who has struggled in the Cup and Qualification games could benefit a little bit, but still not much. Short of it, we won’t be seeded.

  14. can USMNT schedule an away game to Brazil and Spain to play their C-sides and get that ranking moved up into top 8?.

    US chances of advancing out of the group are least 50% tied to who else is in there… in 2006, coming off a top place in the Hex and with a veteran core group of 2002 QFs: McBride, Pope, Reyna, Donovan, Beasley, Mastroeni, Keller…and they didn’t get out of the group…

    2010- lots of new faces, some who haven’t sniffed a USMNT jersey in years since…top the group…

    If 2014 group is something like Germany, Nethelands, US and Chile…yikes…
    If it’s

    • Even beating those two teams won’t get us in the top 8. Their aren’t enough points. Not being in the confederations cup this year, cost us our only chance at making the top 8. Thank you Bob Bradley for putting Jonathon Bornstein in when Cherundolo went down.

    • That really sucks for them, especially since they are the only squad that swept their group.

      Still…they swept their group, and FIFA rankings are BS anyway. Bradley will take care of business.

      • I may be wrong but CAF doesn’t go by FIFA rankings exclusively for the draw, they can and did use the CAF competition for seeding. So their sweep could be useful.

  15. Look, we’re all about to get excited over the possibility of getting a seed but it isn’t going to happen. That loss to Costa Rica will hurt us too much. Mexico’s collapse has also hurt us as the way the points are done means that beating mexico now isn’t as good as beating mexico used to be. There just isn’ t anyway we surpass those teams in the top 8.

    • Even if we did get in the Top 8, FIFA wouldn’t seed us. They would look at “historical performance” and choose whichever perennial contender happened to have fallen out of the Top 8.

      • The “historical performance” applies to the last two WC competitions and is empirical and not subjective. It means that the teams above us for a seed will gain only so many points toward a WC seeding. Eight other teams went out of the round of 16 in 2010 and the US scored a goal. So we would be ranked above other teams on differential and goals scored for the final ranking in 2010.
        In 2006 we did not do as well, but the points earned are only a fraction of the seeding points awarded.

        As the ranking includes the loss to CR, but not the higher FIFA ranked Mexico, our ranking of 13 could actually be higher. Should we win against Jamaica and Panama we would have even more points BUT, if we beat a Spain, a top FIFA ranked team in a top FIFA ranked confederation we would get double-whammy points and get a massive amount of goody points to move us easily into the top 10, of course it would depend on how other teams fared. Winning against Scotland would, because of their relatively low rankings give us probably less points than a win against a better concacaf team.

      • The FIFA World Rankings only use the past four years as historical performance.

        If you’re talking about how they determined seeding for the World Cup draw, that I don’t know.

      • Not sure, but I think he meant something like, “that loss to Costa Rica will [continue to] hurt us too much.”

  16. For the love of all soccer, can we please have friendlies against an African team? Away preferably. We have to get used to their ability to run 120 minutes, nonstop, without growing tired.

    I’d also like to see us against a Korea or Japan, who deploy slower, more tactical systems than what we’re used to. They don’t bunker, but they’re patient.

  17. Comments about seeding procedure are extremely important. Gulati is on the FIFA Exec Committee and had better use his position to ensure a fair process. In 2010 we were in the same pool with N. Korea, which is nonsense.

    There will likely be six teams from S. America in the tournament. Not all of them will be in Pool 1. So there will have to be a system by which the teams in Pool 2 will not be drawn into a group that already has a CONMEBOL team in it. FIFA has tried to justify a gerrymandered Pool system by stating that it is necessary to ensure that you don’t have two teams from the same confederation in the same group (or three teams in the case of Europe). Hogwash. All you have to do is set up the draw so that, for example, Chile in Pool 2 is not drawn into Group A with Brazil. Take Chile and any other CONMEBOL teams out when drawing the Pool 2 team into Group A.

    If you do this correctly (UEFA does it all the time with teams from the same country into the Champions League groups), then you should have Brazil and the rest of the top eight teams in Pool 1, the next best eight teams in Pool 2, and so forth.

    If there is a fair seeding system and USA is in Pool 2, there should be no complaints.

    • I kind of like the effort to retain regional variety in the group stage. While what you’re proposing might alleviate the “Group of Death” problem (if it is one), I don’t think the rankings will allow you to pool teams by rank and still have enough to “fit” properly with the seeded teams, because a disproportionate amount of UEFA teams will be ranked above teams from other confederations.

    • Fifa doesn’t put enough trust in its rankings to seed the World Cup that way. If they started doing it by 1-32 instead of the traditional way (Top 8 in Pot 1 and Pots 2-4 by confederation), I think you’d see a pretty massive change in international football in terms of how sides schedule and approach friendlies.

    • JSmiley, I would love to see that, but I don’t see FIFA changing anything. If Colombia holds their ranking, then pot A will include 5 UEFA teams and 3 CONMEBOL teams, and that makes everything work out perfectly.

      UEFA gets 13 slots, so the remaining 8 get pot B to themselves. No special pots needed to ensure no group has 3 European teams.

      I don’t think there’s any way Jordan can win their qualifier vs a CONMEBOL team, so that makes 3 remaining CONMEBOL teams, a perfect number to join with CAF to make pot C.

      That leaves the rest, Concacaf, AFC, and possibly OFC to form pot D.

      Perhaps this all falls apart if Colombia drops out of the top 8.

      • Oops. I missed that Uruguay is now in the top 8. I don’t think both Colombia and Uruguay can hold on to their ranking, but even if they do, FIFA will pull out the “historical” reason to knock one of them out.

  18. Great to see FIFA taking notice. I think the US can make it to the Semi-Finals as long as we don’t run into Brazil along the way. I think Brazil will win the World Cup at home. They are VERY strong there.

    • Let’s hold our cards close to ourselves. The World Cup is filled with teams that can beat each other on a given day. Look four years back: we had our easiest group ever, and still only made it through on the last game.

      An easy draw is nice, which is what we had last time. I expect we get something a lot tougher this go around. Though with the team we’re building, I think we can compete a lot better than before.

      Klinsi has us playing good soccer. He’s also built a team with depth. Barring injuries to a few key players, in 9 months we’ll be ready to create damage in Brazil.

  19. What does everyone see for the ceiling at the WC next year? A rank of 13 would suggest the round of 16, which I think is a totally reasonable expectation. If the defensive issues can get a little better sorted out, I think the quarterfinals is definitely possible. From there, anything can happen… Thoughts?

    • Depends on the draw, both in the group stage and after if we make it out. If we get out of the group stage and wind up playing Spain, Germany, Brazil etc. in the second round, then I think we’ll lose but if we get a slightly easier opponent then who knows.

      • We will kick Germany’s bu++. Spain would be tough, but they are on a downward trend and will be beatable. Brazil is a different story. Those guys have turned into a mean machine and will not be easy for anybody and I hope we can avoid them until the final.

      • I’m the guy who called you out for saying dumb stuff when you said Bradley should’ve left the team before the Mexico game and not talk to the press because it was somehow stepping on Clint’s shoes. And I think I was justified in saying that.

        Plus here you further prove my point by confidently stating that we will beat Germany at the world cup.

    • IMHO, the rankings do not correlate to WC performance… The rankings are obviously quite debatable to start with, followed by the fact that other things have influence, such as who you end up drawn against, injuries, form in 9 months, location, etc.

      Brazil is now #8 – that would mean quarterfinals and no further – have to imagine hosting helps buy them better odds than that. To be seen…

    • Our rankings mean nothing. We’ve been a lot lower and proved we didn’t belong. Teams ranked 1-30 can all beat each other on a given day. Those 31-50 are headaches. Just remember NZ last year: the only undefeated team in the tournament.

      It all comes down to the group stages. There’s always one or two groups of death. Get stuffed in one of those and we’re all turning to our god(s) for help.

      Last tournament also showed us that who we bring is important. With injuries to Gooch and Davies, we were crippled. Klinsi took note of that and has now developed a team with depth. But we still depend on four starters whose absences really hurt.

      I think a GOOD quarter-final tournament is achievable. Certainly getting to the last 16.

    • I’d like to think the most realistic best performance could be the semi finals. Conceivably the draw could work out without having to face the top teams before that round. In point of fact on of the biggest disappointment about South Africa was the draw set up for the US to go to the semi finals. We could of beat Ghana and we could of had a decent if underdog chance against Uruguay.

  20. I’ll admit it: I LOVE IT! I think a good chance we make it to the quarter-finals and with a bit of luck to the semi-finals. I feel it. This team has destiny written all over it.

    And great to see Germany and Klinsmann’s buddy Jogi Low falling to third place. If Low remains coach through next summer, I predict Germany will not make it the semi-finals, and maybe not even to the quarter-finals. Germany is playing bad now. Low and his gang have been at the top too long and are running things into the ground and the team is sluggish and desperately needs fresh input and everyone knows it and many would like to see Jurgen Klopp take over. And interestingly, Low, whose contract ends next year, is now trying to force through a contact extension so in case things go bad in Brazil and he gets fired he will still be paid for a few more years.

  21. Prior to the World Cup, I am of the opinion that the US should test itself against some Asian countries such as Japan and/or South Korea, and African countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. We always seem to be prepared for the South American and European teams. But when we play against unknowns (ex. Ghana) we seem unprepared for them. In order to advance in the World Cup next summer, we need to be mentally prepared to play nations from all parts of the world, not just Europe and S. America. I don’t want to see us get bounced out of the tournament against the likes of Ghana again.

    • I wonder if a friendly in Brazil would be worthwhile. Of course, Neymar would veto that unless Jermaine Jones would promise to skip that game.

    • I absolutely agree regarding Asian & African competition, my only hesitation is that we don’t always see quality teams show up for Friendlies, particularly with Africa. Take the recent Mexico domination of Ivory Coast, in the WC it wouldn’t have been close but it was lopsided due to location (US) and the squad they fielded.

      None the less, point very well taken and I would love to get a run in against Ghana before seeing them again in the round of 16 (which, based on history, is almost a certainty!)

      • If you play a friendly where both teams are qualified for the World Cup, they will want to be preparing with their first teams. I know last cycle we played the Netherlands in March and they played a top squad. Didn’t end well for Holden though 🙁

  22. These rankings are what they are, but a team coming off a 12 game win streak, winning their continental title, and leading their WC qualifying group, it’s hard to argue with the jump we’ve made.

    Don’t say it’s weaker competition because the rankings account for the confederation we play in. Also, when you look at the teams around us, it’s about right.

    • True but the only quibble I have is that the Gold Cup this year was a B team tournament so while it is technically the continential title, I think that only the Gold Cup in the year after the World Cup is meaningful. In fact, the Gold Cup should be only once every fouryears except then concacaf would lose a ton of money so it won’t happen.

      And yes, I’m aware of the fact that winning the Gold Cup means we’re in a playoff for the Confederations cup spot in 2017 but it was a still a bunch of B teams.

      • But do they take into consideration the percentage of soccer experience gained in the country they are representing?

      • That’s true…I didn’t think of that. And now that you mention it, wouldn’t we have more opportunity for more highly rated matches because it takes place every two years? Or does the fact that team have to qualify for the Euros and African Cup of Nations and so on negate that? Think we’re looking too much into it at this point.

      • How can you subjectively weight the tournament’s composition? What if Panama takes it seriously, we take it semi-serious, and Mexico blows it off and sends U23s?

  23. Everyone is rationalizing and understating our position, which is all noble and good, but just bask in the glory for a second. We went from like #35 to #13 in two years. Feels good to see a marked improvement in our squad’s quality, to see JK’s vision paying off, and to receive some due respect from FIFA.

    • I agree that we should be pleased with the progress and the run of good form, but many of us fans remember a time when the US had broken the top 10 ranking, went to the WC and then were very quickly brought back down to earth, as that ranking plummeted post tourney. So, I think taking these numbers with a grain of salt is not unreasonable.

      • I believe you’re talking about the 2006 team, which you’re correct, was probably ranked too high. However, I went back and watched all three games from that World Cup and that team was playing some pretty good soccer. They caught a really bad break with the draw. There was an incredibly stupid foul by Mastroeni in the Italy game (maybe the ref evening things out a bit), Reyna’s inexplicable mistake in the Ghana game (and being just onto the downside of his career) along with a very questionable penalty on Gooch and Donovan with his mental distractions. That was actually a pretty good team, though, and I would say deserving of a Top 10 ranking.

    • Thank you Ian. There are undoubtedly flaws with the FIFA rankings, but regardless of those flaws, the US has moved up 22 spots in the last two years.

      • Very exciting run for the team. I personally prefer the ESPN rankings as they seem to be a lot more dynamic (ie Brazil now at #2 vs #8 in FIFA). Though I think there are flaws in ESPN as well, for instance, England at #9?!

        The next two games will be interesting but I think the more interesting test will be the Friendlies Jurgen lands over the next 6 months. Something like a Greece, Croatia, or strong South American match would go a long way.

      • I’m sure there’s no perfect methodology, but I prefer ESPN’s too. England will always be ranked too high, no matter the methodology.

  24. If we win our last 2 qualifiers, we’ll be at 1061 points, which would currently have us at #9. Then it’s just friendlies until the tournament.

    • That is without taking into account how the other teams do in their games. If we do win both of those games we will go to number 11 regardless of what Greece and Portugal do. Beyond that we would need teams to not win the games they play during that timetable.

      • Remember that there could also be higher ranked teams who fail to qualify. Portugal is sitting in second behind Russia.

  25. The USMNT ranking is going to be improved due to the summer’s Gold Cup results. I think African teams and Asian teams had a similar improvement following their confederation championships. CONCACAF teams will have a surge upward during the next few months based on the Gold Cup, but then come down – especially Mexico, yikes.

  26. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Our defense is still not great and injuries right now are a concern. I look at this like a college football poll. If you are in the top 5 then you are elite and in the hunt for a national title. It tiers down from there. We are probably a second or third tier team. Top 25 for sure but difference between 21 and 15 is marginal. Breaking the top 10 or 5 is more meaningful. Plus with this rankings I take it in stride as a range not an exact ranking. For example if we are 17 and we play a team much lower say 60 we should beat them. However, a 17 playing a 15 or 19 are about on par an rankings don’t matter as much.

    Still, fun to watch the program grow from basically nothing in 1990 until today. No denying that!

  27. I used to dismiss these rankings as worthless but now they count for seeding. So while they’re still substantively worthless, it’s good that we’re moving on up.

  28. It’s nice to move up in the rankings but A.) It means absolutely nothing and B.) There is no chance that we are currently the 13th best team in the world.

    Nice to see a little international respect being thrown our way but still have a long way to go before the US is permnanent fixture in the top 10-15 of this list the way the traditonal powers are.

    • I think it does mean something. I know we are not actually a top 10 team, but FIFA uses these rankings and the top 7 teams get seeded in the World Cup

    • Traditional powers like Greece, Switzerland and Russia? On a neutral field I like our chances against any of those teams. There are only two teams ranked below us in the top 30 (England and France) that I would classify as “traditional powers.”

    • Are you sure? We’ve won 13 of our last 14…which included wins over Germany, Bosnia (in Bosnia), and Mexico. Yeah, Mexico is playing some bad ball right now…but we were missing a TON of key guys: Altidore, Bradley (arguably our best player right now), Cameron, Besler…and Cherundolo, which has been big. Everywhere else Klinsi has developed good depth, for whatever reason we haven’t turned up a younger alternative to Cherundolo yet (though I think once DeAndre Yedlin gets a real look, he’ll grab the job sooner rather than later…that kid is just WAAAAAY too talented, by far the most physically talented RB the USA has seen so far.)

      Run DMB is “serviceable” as a left back and with his experience, catch-up speed, quicks, ability to attack out of the back, I think we’ll make do with him as a (very) poor-man’s version of Ashley Cole and live with his gaffes. I can live with Edgar Castillo as our #2 at LB though he tends to get exposed by pure speed. We BADLY need to find a right back…I could live with Parkhurst as our #2 but our problem is he’s our starter right now. We don’t have a right winger with true pace and Zusi, Bedoya, and Corona are decent players.

      But aside from that, it’s hard to find a real weakness in this squad. We’ve got a ton of productive forwards who can score. We’re loaded at center mid and left mid. We’ve got a growing pool of CB’s who lack experience but who have plenty of talent. Our keeper rotation is one of the 2-3 best in the world, certainly way better than England’s, for instance. And this is a very athletic, very deep squad with a lot of interesting individual pieces and skillsets that Klinsi can reach onto his bench for.

      Are we Top-5? No. But Top-10? I think we actually are, right now.

    • Little to no implications for WC seeding. It’s a lot more backroom deals by FIFA. 2006, for example, the US were ranked 4th and not seeded, while England was. England, somehow, was seeded in 2010 again. Mexico was also seeded in 2006 despite being ranked 15. France in 2002 were ranked 28!!! and still seeded (And subsequently got knocked out in the first round).

      European teams push their clout to get seeded, despite only a few actually deserving it. US has no chance of being seeded (not that its deserved, anyway).

    • It is a major factor (~ 50%) in who gets to be a seeded team (7 get seeded + Brazil). Since NO CONCACAF teams will be seeded, it probably has absolutely no implications for CONCACAF teams. Ex: in Dec. 2005, the USA was ranked either 5th or 6th at the time that they did the draw to set the brackets. Not only was the USA not seeded, they drew Italy as their seeded team (for a WC in Germany), a highly ranked but unseeded Czech Rep., and a solid Ghana.

      Most likely, all of the CONCACAF teams will again just get tossed into the same pot as the Asian teams (+ New Zealand if they win their playoff with … Mexico?). That means that the USA would have a seeded team, an unseeded UEFA team, and either an unseeded CONMEBOL team or an African team. If I’m right, that also means that they couldn’t have an Asian team in their group. While it’s mathematically possible that the USA could draw a fairly weak (relatively) group, that likelihood would be MUCH greater if there was the possibility of having an Asian team in their group … e.g., Iran instead of Uruguay.

    • The team seeding are based on previous WC finishes plus the current FIFA ranking. It is unlikely (but not impossible) the US will reach a ranking in the top eight or nine, before the WC draw in December.

      What’s more important for the US and Concacaf is the confederation seeding. Should the US pull ahead of Africa in the federation seeding, this should have an effect on the “bowl”. The “bowl” is what FIFA uses to seed the WC tournament. There are four bowls of eight teams. One bowl is for the top 8 seeds, but the constitution of the other bowls is what will make or break the tournament for some teams. While Europe with 12 teams in the WC can get a bowl to itself, FIFA frequently takes the weaker Euro teams out and puts them in other bowls and adds teams from SA to that bowl. Other confederations with a few teams can be thrown in together. and so some confederations will never face each other in the group stage. There is also the fact that FIFA avoids t putting teams from the same confederation into the same pot. The exception is, of course, Europe, which has too many teams for this policy. Should the US and ConCaCaf be put into the same pot as Africa, the the US will not play any African teams in the group stage. Likewise if Concacaf is put into the same bowl as the Asian Confederation.

      If the US makes it into a top 10 FIFA ranking, as an “outlier” FIFA may put the US into a bowl with other highly ranked teams, like it has done before, to avoid putting high ranked ranked teams in the same group. Of course this does not always work and so we usually have a “group of Death.”

      So with a high FIFA rank, the US could be put into a bowl that, although it does not contain the “seeds” of the WC, is nonetheless. composed of many ranked and top teams the US will not have to face in the group stage.

      If the US does not acquire a FIFA ranking in the top 10, it still may get a better position because FIFA may put Concacaf teams in a bowl with equal or higher ranked confederation and preclude it from playing a ranked team from a confederation such as Africa,

      Rankings, both for the individual team and the confederation, are still useful for the odds in obtaining a good WC group.

  29. The only thing the rankings are good for (and it’s important) is for tournament seeding. This doesnt mean of course that we are better, on any given day, than number 14 and below, and that we cant beat number 12 and above. But hey, I’ll drink to this ranking as one measure of improvement. Been doing a lot of drinking to USMNT lately, I noticed…..

    Can someone tell me what the highest FIFA ranking USMNT ever achieved? Do we have to go back to 1950’s? The first sentence is unclear – is this our first time in top 15 ever, or is it our first time in top 15 under JK?

      • We were highly ranked, but not seeded. Seeding only goes to 8 countries, of which the US has only been once, as the 94 host.

      • The US was ranked 10th that year and should have had a seed, (to other teams ranked in the top 10 did not make the WC) but FIFA, under pressure from UEFA, changed the seedings to recognize previous WC placings, and so Italy got the US seed and went on to win the WC too.

    • We were 5th going into World Cup 2006, but I’m pretty sure the ranking system has changed since then. Czech Republic was ranked 2nd, and I believe Italy was 8th? Which is why our group was considered the Group of Death that tournament. Ives, am I correct?

      • Don’t forget they host the next tournament. Unlike the US which has to convert a mixed bag of strong home form and weaker road form into neutral site performance, Brazil plays at home. Granted, you are correct in some absolute ranking sense but for practical purposes for the next year or so a Brazilian home court advantage is reality.

    • Brazil doesnt have to qualify for the WC so lets games played = less points. Spain did also win the euro and frankly the confed cup win for brazil is suspect at best

    • So when Spain won the last three major tournaments they played in and lost only a couple of times in the last five years, tiny didn’t notice?

    • I think not. That would mean we make the at least the top 16 maybe even the quarter finals and until we lock a few positions up namely outside backs and a consistent centerback pairing a forward who pairs well with jozy and demspey either improves or is benched well have trouble getting past the first knock out game

    • I can see it in these rankings. But using thought and reason, I do not think we will be top 10. I see top 15 though. I dont think we will be top 10 until we play high quality competition more frequently. Its hard for the USA to become a top 10 team without playing stronger competition themselves who are top 10. Not trying to be a downer, I think top 15 is a great step for the USA and am very proud of how these guys have been performing.


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