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USMNT jumps 5 places to No. 27 in latest FIFA Rankings

USMNT vs. Panama 2015 (USA TODAY Sports)

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

 

By DAN KARELL

While the U.S. Men’s National Team wasn’t exactly rewarded for their play on their field during two European-based friendly matches in March, the FIFA World Rankings were much kinder.

In FIFA’s April rankings, the USMNT moved up five places to No. 27 on the back of a 3-2 defeat at Denmark and a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Zurich. The U.S. now sits one place behind Ghana and ironically, one place ahead of Denmark, despite the Dane’s recent victory over the USMNT.

The U.S. was aided by the fact that Ecuador, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine all dropped spots in what was a volatile month for the FIFA rankings. The USMNT remains third-best in CONCACAF, behind No. 15 Costa Rica and No. 18 Mexico.

Among the big movers was Wales, who jumped 15 places following a crucial 3-1 road victory against Israel. Israel meanwhile dropped 20 places due to losses to Wales and Belgium, both at home.

The top 10 now looks like this: Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal, Uruguay, Switzerland, and Spain.

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What do you think of this news? Glad to see the USMNT back in the top 30? Do you see them moving up again in next month’s rankings?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. People complain about these Fifa rankings too much. Are they a perfect way of comparing national teams? Of course not. Are they better than anything else out there though? Yes, probably. Are they useful? Yes they are!

    What better way to compare teams like say: USA and Iceland. Ideally we could watch the two teams play a home and home elimination game to see who gets to go to the World Cup (like the Mexico vs New Zealand games in 2014). That’s unlikely to happen though, so we need some other way to do it other than someone saying “we are clearly better than Iceland” just because he/she is a biased USA fan.

    Read up on the formula. It’s definitely useful and makes sense. The thing you can nitpick at the most is the different points awarded to the different confederations (Conmebol and UEFA are considered superior). So even though teams like Mexico/USA/Ivory Coast/Ghana/Australia/Japan are all probably equal to or better than a team like Wales, you still get more points for playing against Wales. But that is cancelled out by each teams position in the Fifa Rankings (for example, Costa Rica is ranked higher than Wales, so you would get more points for playing against Costa Rica).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Rankings

    Reply
    • I agree that the rankings are not quite as useless as their reputation. As a comparative tool, it’s a situation of “they’re the best we’ve got, until we get something better”.

      However, I would say that they do have an inherent flaw for this discussion– the formula is only designed to be “right” for a few months every four years (i.e. right about the time of WC seeding, when they actually have value). Because of timing differences in the different confederations’ competetive cycles, CONCACAF teams are effectively “penalized” in this portion of the cycle (and rewarded later). There is probably no way to correct this– I think the system “has it right”…. but it is worth noting.

      Reply
      • The formula they use also rewards you simply because of the federation you play in. The US and Portugal beat Ghana by identical results in Brazil but Portugal got more points for it because they play in UEFA, that ruins the entire system for me.

      • Except that there IS something better: the Elo system. FIFA even adopted the Elo system when it established its women’s rankings. But there are probably entrenched interests keeping the current FIFA ranking system in place for men’s national teams.

      • It is debatable whether or not the Elo systerm is better. I definitely don’t have an opinion on which is better. I do know that the Elo system uses things like goals scored and margin of victory. That can either be a good idea or a bad idea. Many teams don’t actively look to “pour it on” during a game. Most teams take a lead and then sit on it and try to see out the result. So margin of victory doesn’t translate in soccer to how good of a team you are like it does in other sports.

  2. This ratings don’t have a strong basis in reality but FIFA uses them for world cup seeding so they are still relevant unfortunately.

    Reply
    • Given that the US has advanced into the round of 16 in 3 of the last 4 World Cups and won the last GC and CONCACAF qualifying, I would argue that somewhere in the bottom of the top 16 or in middle of the top 32 is a more accurate assessment.

      The US “outperformed” in 3 of the last 4 WCs, that sort of makes it the new normal.

      Reply
      • top 16? what you don’t seem to understand is that the 32 teams who qualify for the world cup are not the top 32 teams in the world, so the u.s reaching the second round doesn’t mean they’re better than all but 15 teams in the world. Somewhere in the top 30 is most likely where this teams ranks.

      • Considering that CONCACAF teams as a whole did better than Asia or Africa in the WC and given that we finished ahead of Portugal, Italy, and England, among others, I think a fair ranking of our full national team playing in a meaningful tournament is probably in the high teens.

      • Really? Who from Europe who was any good really got left out? Sweden? Maybe. Iceland, with their population of 300,000? Ukraine? Meh. They’re Russia Lite. Turkey, who was sendoff-match roadkill for us in the warmups before the World Cup?

        Who was not among the seven South American teams in Brazil who really deserved to be there?

        These inferiority complexes are indeed befuddling.

      • quozzel, your comments are priceless. I seriously hope you’re being facetious. If you’re being serious, then wow, just wow.

      • They are priceless particularly the one about us being a top 6 FEDERATION/Supported country in the world.
        Holy crap, dude. We might give JK whatever he wants (he wastes federation money like crazy) but we put a ridiculously low amount of money into coaching education and developing youth players and a plan for developing players.
        Ever been to a top club and seen it’s youth development
        You should take off those rose colored glasses, take a trip to Valdebebas (Real Madrid) and then get back to me.

      • I asked you a direct question, and you responded to “facetious” canned hyerbole debate-club BS. Well done.

        You still haven’t named somebody.

        Name somebody better than the USMNT, who wasn’t at the last World Cup.

        Seriously, my man.

      • Then name somebody, and explain your answer…and stand behind it.

        Player pool, resources, recent results, current trajectory.

        Love to hear this.

      • If you are a national team that is better than one of the 32 that get into the World Cup than what is the point?

        What good is it for a national team to be better than those 32 if they never get to show the world?

        It seems to me then that you are irrelevant to the international game.

      • Really, there is way too much inferiority being expressed by those who claim to be US fans.

        List all those teams who did not qualify for the last WC that the US would not be expected to beat on a neutral field. Perhaps a couple S.A. teams but not so much else the European teams get enough slots that those better teams that do not qualify are one-offs. In the last 2 WCs the US beat 3 of the 4 european teams in the group, so it is hard to say the US is grossly inferior to them. Friendlies are such a mish-mash, but we did beat Germany and Italy in the last few years, in fact in the last 5 years in 12 games against teams ranked in the top 10, the US has 2 wins, 4 ties and 6 losses.

        Your inferiority complexes are not really supported by much.

      • Inferiority Complex is the perfect description.

        I think the ones with the worst IC would have zero US players on most Euro Nat Team rosters.

      • “Your inferiority complexes are not really supported by much.”
        Except by the U.S.’s dismal record against European teams on European soil as well as at the World Cup.

      • In the last 2 WCs, the Us finished in front of 3 of the 4 European teams in its group play. In the round of 16, the US arguably played at least even with Belgium. What were you watching?

      • the U.S. played at least even with Belgium?
        You expect to be taken seriously when you make a statement like that? Belgium were the better team in every respect. The U.S., especially Howard, put in a heroic effort, but it wasn’t enough. Belgium had more quality in every position.

      • For reals. Who these hidden superpowers are, I’m not sure either.

        Ecuador was the #7 team from CONMEBOL down in Brazil. They were about dead-even with Honduras. I saw it; I watched that match. Ecuador won but it easily could have gone either way. Two words. Jerry. Bengston. Get those headers DOWN, you infuriating tosser.

        Vaunted Euro squads went out of Brazil like there was some sort of competition for who could catch the first redeye flight back across the pond. Offer up excuses all you want, the bottom line is, most of them just did not look that good. Germany, Netherlands, and maybe France, Switzerland, and Belgium came to play – though the French tamely laid down for Germany, as the French do. The rest looked dogmeat average at best. Does anybody really think the Swedes would have been some sort of rampaging Viking force in Brazil, or that Ukraine would have triumphed while their brothers-in-disputed-borders, Russia were busy washing out in group?

        Me either.

      • There is no right answer Quozzel. You are making the World Cup the determining factor. The World Cup is like March Madness. One game and done. The best teams may win but not always. Anything can happen.

        Here’s an example of the argument you are making. Lets say the LA Galaxy play the Chicago Fire towards the end of the MLS season. Galaxy are first place in the standings and Chicago Fire last place. The Fire win that game. So who is the better team? Is it the Galaxy because they are in first place and have shown throughout the season that they are the best team? Or is it the Chicago Fire because they just played against each other heads-up and they beat the Galaxy? That is essentially the same argument when comparing a team’s ranking in the FiFa World Rankings vs how they did in the World Cup.

      • Thanks Mr. Bruin

        This Q guy doesn’t understand that these rankings don’t mean anything
        They are what are two great spin doctors will use to say we are improving as a soccer nation and we really are not.
        But a lot of cockied optimists believe this hyberbole.

      • I’m not basing my arguments based on what the USMNT has done the last tournament. Yes, weird results happen.

        But the USMNT has gotten out of group three of the last four tournaments. Mexico has gotten out of group the last five, if memory serves.

        Those are mathmetical outliers. Justify this. Seriously.

      • The worst thing is that FIFA has already implicitly acknowledged that there is a better ranking system by adopting Elo ratings for its women’s world rankings. There are likely entrenched interests keeping the current FIFA ranking system in place for men’s national teams. The Elo system has consistently outperformed FIFA rankings in predictive value.

        By the way, the US is currently ranked 18th in the Elo system, which also seems more accurate.

  3. The Swiss are ranked top ten- we tied them, on the road. This explains the rise- it weighs more than the loss to Denmark, also on the road. But as most say- these are rankings meaningless, considering they’re mostly based on friendlies with experimental squads and B/C level players. I’d put us somewhere in the bottom of the top 20 or 25 teams in the world.

    Reply
    • I’d put us much, much higher than that, especially if we can solidify our midfield and start finding some cohesion there. Nobody’s really laid claim to either wing spot – well, Bedoya, but he’s more shuttler than winger and in actuality I think he’s a left or right mid in a 4-3-3 or one of your central mids in a 4-5-1. We’re also still looking for the attack-minded CAM we haven’t had since Stuart Holden went down.

      I think people very much underestimate what the US has. Athletically we’re well ahead of just about anybody except maybe some of the African nations or Jamaica…who have absolute clown-show federations and endemic resource problems that severely curtail how good they will ever be. We’ve also got a domestic league that is right around the 20th best in the world at the moment…and rising quickly. And from a resources/federation-support standpoint we’re one of the top 5 or 6 FA’s in the world. Logistically we might be the best, with only Germany rivalling us…when Germany’s FA got into Brazil looking to establish a base camp, for instance, they discovered the US had already gotten in ahead of them and grabbed the best one – Santos’s – and so ended up building their OWN training ground. We play more matches – and a better quality of matches – than just about anyone, do more camps than just about anyone, cap more players than just about anyone, work harder to improve our squad in terms of recruiting of dual-nationals than just about anyone.

      If Klinsmann can get his midfield solidified a bit, and we can start stringing together more than three passes without turning the ball over, we’re a squad that’s poised for a BIG charge up the rankings, though with our miserable .8 CONCACAF co-efficient it’s going to be a big ask for us to ever get into the Top-8 or a seeding for the World Cup.

      I think we’re about 10th-15th in the world, in actuality. It’s cracking into the Top 10 or Top 5 that’s going to be the real challenge…because that’s where you’re talking the world’s truly elite International squads. Of which there are really not many. The usual suspects – Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, along with whoever else is hot from South America and Europe at the time.

      One thing I find distinctly interesting is that I really don’t believe England and Italy are elite international squads anymore, or even close. Italy’s slowball tactical approach is just not playing well anymore – they’ve crashed out of Group the last two World Cups – and there’s some badly off with the English squad…they play with zero heart, cohesion, belief, or intent. As a coach I literally want to walk out onto the field and start hitting them in the butt with an electric cattle prod, they’re so excrutiating to watch.

      Reply
      • 1 Germany
        2 Argentina
        3 Belgium
        4 Colombia
        5 Brazil
        6 Netherlands
        7 Portugal
        8 Uruguay
        9 Switzerland
        10 Spain
        11 France
        12 Romania
        13 Italy
        14 England
        15 Costa Rica
        16 Chile
        17 Croatia
        18 Mexico
        19 Czech Republic
        20 Slovakia

        I would not say we’re better than any of those teams at the moment, and it has nothing to do with an inferiority complex. Rather, it’s about being rational and objective, rather than delusional and hyperbolic.

      • i kinda agree with you here, although i don’t know much about romania or slovakia so i’m taking your word there. on a good day we could replace mexico or CR on that list perhaps but 6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other. id settle and just call us a top 25 team more or less. lol

      • You’re answering your own question, even if you do use words like “hyberbolic” to make it seem like you have a clue what you’re talking about.

        Who has more resources than us? Portugal, population 10 million…and home of Christiano Ronaldo? When he was hobbled, we saw very clearly how mortal they were.

        Romania, who didn’t qualify for the last World Cup? Italy, who washed out in the last two? England, who hasn’t done ANYTHING since 1966…because, quite frankly, their players aren’t that good even if their league spends a bazillion dollars a year? Uruguay, who looked REALLY PARALYZED when Luis Suarez – who I’d call the third-best player in the world at the moment, behind Messi and Ronaldo – went and chomped on somebody else?

        Seriously. Who there scares you, if you’re the USA? And if you’ve got the budget we have, the sprouting player pool we have, and the resources we have, keep in mind, my answer is going to be: you’re fired.

        So seriously? Who there in positions 10-15 has some intrinsic superiority we can’t overcome? Love to hear this.

      • quozzel,

        And are you saying “ The USMNT is better than this team “ or are you saying “ The USMNT can beat this team”?

        Are you talking competitive game or friendly?
        When you say “ better team” that mostly matters for seeding and ranking purposes. The two teams that actually show up on game day may be a completely different story.

        So, if you are asking can the US beat any of these guys in a friendly the answer is yes.

        And if you are talking can the US beat any of these guys in a competitive game, then the answer is all things being equal, on a given day Germany, Brazil, Spain and the Netherlands are the only teams I would be dubious about beating. Not that the US would be favored in any of the games.but the US would be okay against the rest.

      • quozzel,

        Even at the best of times Italy can be irritating to watch and I certainly wouldn’t pay real money to watch them in a friendly.

        They are going through a transition phase where their best players are probably past their prime and the young guys haven’t caught up yet.

  4. After a loss and a draw, yes. Other teams lost and we should have won both. Lost after late sub’s and third string goalie and tied after going down to 10 men. We played good and these rankings mean nothing.

    Reply
    • WOOOOHHHH… we should have won both? We were completely outplayed in both games. You probably think that we outplayed Belgium in the WC too.

      Reply
      • Of course we shouldn’t have beat Belgium. These past two we had leads going in the final ten mins. Denmark and Switzerland dominated possession but that’s not new for teams against the us. We had plenty of blown chances. Until our midfield can hold possession that’s how its going to be. I never said we outplayed any team. You don’t have to outplay someone to win. When you get your chances you need to finish them.

      • The US did not outplay Belgium.

        But, as fourthefuture points out, outplaying a team is one thing, beating them is another. You win by scoring one more goal than the other guy, not by looking good,pushing the other team around and dominating the play for 89.5 minutes.

        The US should have beaten Belgium because Wondo should have put that goal away.

        And, had he done so, since there were only a few minutes or maybe even seconds left, it seems unlikely Belgium would have equalized.

        That is one of the things that makes soccer such a cruel game. How do you suppose Belgium would have felt if Wondo had done his job?

        And if he had do you suppose the US should have forfeited the game for lack of dominance? This is World Cup soccer not Olympic figure skating where style points count…

      • Urg as much as i think Wondo isnt good enough. Thats the perfect situation for him. Its what he does and we couldn’t have had a better player there for that. (Also Clint yes)

    • It all depends on the data. Look at what happened to other teams and what happened with us 12 months, 24 months, 36 months and 48 months ago. As games other games drop lower or out of the rankings things can change a lot with or without positive results.
      Remember these are PURELY data driven rankings.

      Reply
      • The ratings are a bit of silliness, but they allow for debate.

        Other than Portugal, I don’t see that there is much of a quarrel about who is in the Top10. Portugal didn’t make it out of a very tough group in Brazil. you could say the same for Spain, but they have a few recent championships to bolster their number.

      • A very tough group? But the US was in that group? Ranked 27th.

        I don’t follow this enough to study the equations, but it appears self perpetuating. Euro teams play the higher ranked Euro teams to stay high in the rankings. US moving up so many spots after a tie against an overrated Euro team seems to confirm this.

      • Effectively, this is correct, though the process is not quite so cynical as you describe.

        The formula places a premium on competitive matches (vs. friendlies) as well as the federation’s coefficient (UEFA is highest).

        UEFA is in the midst of Euro qualifying, so they are playing each other not so much because they wish to stay high in the FIFA rankings as “because they have to”. But nonetheless, since these are competitive games played against UEFA teams, they obviously count much more than anything a CONCACAF team could do.

        Make sense (kinda)?

      • “A very tough group? But the US was in that group? Ranked 27th.” If I’m not mistaken i believe the US was ranked around 13th before the WC. but overall that’s neither here nor there.

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