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USMNT drops to No. 16 in final pre-World Cup rankings


The U.S. men’s national team’s dismal September window cost Gregg Berhalter’s squad two spots in the final pre-World Cup rankings.

The Americans dropped to 16th place in October’s FIFA rankings in 2022 following winless results against Japan and Saudi Arabia in September. The USMNT lost 2-0 to Japan in Germany before tying Saudi Arabia 0-0 in Spain.

The USMNT was one of four teams in the Top 20 that dropped in the rankings this period, joining Spain, Mexico, and Uruguay in that category. El Tri fell to No. 13 in the overall rankings while Costa Rica, Canada, and Panama all climbed to new spots among the Concacaf representatives.

Costa Rica rose to No. 31 after tying South Korea 2-2 and defeating Uzbekistan 2-1 in September friendlies. Canada moved up to No. 41 after defeating World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 before suffering a 2-0 loss to Uruguay.

The top five overall places remained the same as Brazil, Belgium, Argentina, France, and England stayed in their spots from August’s rankings. Italy leapfrogged Spain into sixth place, while the Netherlands, Portugal, and Denmark rounded out the top ten.

The USMNT kicks off its World Cup schedule on November 21 against Qatar before also facing England and Iran in group stage action.


  1. Wow you guys wrote a lot of words to complain about something no one generally cares about. In terms of seeding it is used once every four years! IV has a point with regional rankings, it could work great in Concacaf or Conmebol where top teams play each other regularly but in Africa Senegal and Ghana might not play each other for years because of their qualifying processes. Human voting would be just another spot for corruption as well. Want a better seed for your regional qualifying just pay off some reporters.

    • You wrote a lot of words complaining about people complaining about something no one cares about. Who’s the bigger loser? I don’t know. We’re US soccer fans. Neither of us are on strong footing here.

    • i am not a fan of seeding at all. are we playing to decide who the winner is, or are we trying to favor the predicted winners before we start? had a youth select experience of being knocked out of some prestige tournaments after losing one group game to the highest seed team that then wins the tournament. you’d then see some team advance from another group that you beat in some other tournament.

      so i think it should just be names from a hat. the true champion should be able to handle a cupcake group just like a group of death. failing that, you should just throw the 6 regional champions, the defending champion, and the host in the bowl as the 1st seeds. then work down the regional qualifying tables. that rewards qualifying well, and removes the guesswork of which region is really better than which.

      let’s be real, they began using the rankings to seed when they got too eager to, say, have the final be defending champion brazil vs host france. i don’t think you should be deciding that beforehand. that’s why we play the games.

      that being said, i think trying to compare teams is a very human thing. i just hate when like in NCAA football or concacaf qualifying where you use the rankings to decide who advances, or gets an easier road. i like have a bigger field and let the games decide it.

  2. let’s see. first, i don’t tend to care about the rankings much. the best team in concacaf couldn’t rank in the top 5 regionally to skip the first qualifying rounds. italy couldn’t beat north macedonia in a one-off. second, i think many of the snobs obsessed with the rankings, and who tend to push for calling the A team and trying to win every game, in their process tend to skip the sort of slow, smart building process that results in a well constructed team that is a world cup success. the last 3 gold cups we have been 1st twice and 2nd another time. the past 3 WCQ we were 5th and T-3rd. the discrepancy, to me, suggests we are more concerned with meaningless wins mid-cycle than with sorting out the right players for the Big Push. we instead obsess about winning the whole cycle, and even seem to ignore early cycle lessons and bring the same old players back. we are not attuned to what actually works. third, ironically, if you wanted this to get better and show better at elite tournaments, you would be more playful the first half of the cycle and figure out who your 25-30 performers actually are. personally i am concerned that the new nations league concept hides how we stack against the world while encouraging the coach to, at a too early date, land on a lineup. snobs adore having more games that count but i think it’s a distraction from figuring out how do i finish highest at the world cup. even if you think of the various competitions as proving grounds, we seem to resist or undo what they prove. sargent, horvath, ream, etc. for the people who adore “competition” for everything, the secret sauce is that formations, tactics, how players perform in those games should matter. otherwise as GB often does you are just drilling and re-drilling possibly several of the wrong names baked into the cake stupidly. i would rather have the right names and tactics right now than a couple summer regional trophies in the hallway in chicago.

    • Don’t know about that point about the Gold Cup. The discrepancy is more likely explained by the fact that the Gold Cup is always in the United States, while qualifying is home and away.

      • i think home and away explains a lot. one thing i don’t think gets talked about is the tactics over time have become more naively aggressive and less pragmatic, which IMO results in bigger home blowouts but more vulnerability away. which might win you home tournaments but in home and away WCQ would cost you road points. you don’t get extra table points for putting 5 or 6 on panama or the like at home. you do lose points if you can’t beat them at their place. i now get to listen to a coach who set out to “change the way we play” crying that his team “needs to get tougher.”

    • 100% agree, and the worst thing was watching the soccer media oversell the significance and the results of the Gold Cup and NL, serving themselves in the process. And we all see where this false sense of confidence has left us.

      • i’ve been arguing since then that in those tournaments we committed harder core to one end of the game or the other. the NL team got up and down the field and scored some goals. the GC team defended hard then squeaked. the emphasis since then on arriola-type chasing forwards or dest-type no defense wingbacks, over 11 players, kind of lands in the middle someplace, some offense, some defense, which to me is not a dominating soccer recipe. we play an aggressive attacking formation but we don’t call the best attackers en masse and just go after teams. we play fairly defensive mids but can’t seem to commit to having behind them 4 good marking backs. i mean, when i was playing, 433 was it was the last game of the group in a tournament, or the last game of league, and it was halftime, and you needed a result, let the chips fall where they may.

        side point, in retrospect, in the summer tournaments, we barely beat honduras at the very end, we went to OT with mexico after chasing that game — with the A team — and then the B team was outplayed by canada but managed an early goal. it was not very emphatic, and as the other poster noted, it was all at home. and my rule of thumb on home vs. road is you have about a 2 goal road swing the other way. so winning in OT is just a tie and winning by a home goal predicts a road loss by the same margin.

        personally i see it as coaching. this should be first place in quali and top regional team in the rankings, and it should have tactics that help that and travel better. i don’t think 433 travels well and i think the fanboys don’t get how the old tactics were well thought out to handle quali and the world cup, as opposed to entertainment value.

  3. Only time rankings even
    Matter is for WC seeding. Which UEFA and Conmebol are always held as higher status then the rest of the confederations. It’s always going to be hard for other nations outside of those two confederations to break into the top 10 with regularity.

  4. I don’t know why they even do this. There are so few meaningful games, and so many fluky results, that this will never, ever work. There isn’t nearly enough data to validate a model (i.e. test actual results versus predicted results to see if the model gets it right), so what they did is run a bunch of models and see which one gives results that are closest to their initial bias. They essentially admit that in their methodology doc. The soccer world would be better served if they just dropped the charade and did it with a human poll.
    Like American college football rankings, which don’t foolishly try to let a formula decide if, say, Alabama would beat Ohio State. We trust our American gut. Roll Tide.

    • The FIFA rankings also determine WC groups. Mix Diskerud is playing against Man U and Jordan Pefok against Roman Gall Malmo team. Have not heard Gall and Diskerud name in a long time. Also David P, The Ohio St. University> University of Alabama. The OSU will always beat Alabama in any sport.

      • Ha ha I won’t fight you on that. I was just running with the anti-european thing and thought I’d bring a little more redneck flavor to make the point. I’ve never even been to Alabama.

    • my personal experience like the NSCAA poll tends to be fairly accurate regionally. the teams intermix and you can get a sense of how they sort amongst each other. nationally polls tend to be more messy because it is not obvious how, say, ACC compares to Pac-12. or at least initially where a hot small conference program like akron or marshall fits in. you’re like, how does college soccer relate? but if you do a regional rank i bet the local reporters would get that fairly right, routine tournaments, friendlies, competitions. world ranking, right now, with so many games either qualifying or nations league, would be a mess. how do we compare to other regions? our schedule says pretty badly. my sense is CONCACAF was very weak this cycle. would european reporters be able to see that? the NCAA comparison works further, to me, because what would probably happen is we would see UEFA and CONMEBOL systematically get favored most of the time. but for the rest of us, FIFA ranks weren’t catching that our elite seems weaker than asia’s right now. if most games are now regional i think a human rank would just tend to reflect which regions and teams are traditional powers. because my personal experience with NSCAA was it was slow to downgrade a “good program” in a bad year and conversely slow to recognize a less-known soccer school having a “career year.” it kind of starts to become “everyone knows england is good.” but such conclusions are only temporally true. for a few years, yes. but there come down ebbs. and then there is the “Boise State” or “Central Florida” problem. (or perhaps canada or japan in international soccer). what to do with the wildcards. the “historical reputation” bias tends to want to put argentina over cameroon no matter how they end up stacking in a real game. my experience human ranks tend to fight this sort of bias for the teams we already “think” are good. so to me there is no perfect rank. i would like to see FIFA shorten the time period to 2 years. cause my sense is within a 4 year cycle an ageing italy can get too old or honduras can go completely to seed. if you’re trying to stay current we really shouldn’t be looking at how did you do a few years ago.

      • Yeah, to answer your key question I do think humans can do a much better job, because we know which results came from fluke goals, which teams played with less than full strength, which games were in ice bowls, which ones were results of red cards, etc.

        The scarcity of interregional games, which are all friendlies except every four years, is all the more reason you need humans to figure out which ones matter. For example, we can ALL agree the Japan/USA game had a very strong signal to noise ratio, based on a lot of subjectives. Closeness to world cup, dominance on the field, tactical superiority, etc. But the FIFA model will put five times the weight on our Iran game, even if Steffen punts the ball into our own net for the loss.

        Same within region, like where Canada (41) is relative to Mexico (13). Anyone who paid any attention to qualifying would correct that.

        Definitely need people doing this.

      • Dave- part of why Canada falls where it does is because they have a smaller friendly budget, can’t buy as good of opponents. but yeah, central point of your argument, when canada is 42 behind us and mexico that’s inaccurate. i assume it’s heavily weighted towards regional tournament results, rewarding snob affection for stuff like the euros. the reality is like one team in decades (spain a decade ago) has won their region and the world cup back to back. italy couldn’t qualify. the US went from 1st to 3rd now, and 1st to 5th last cycle. that suggests qualifying itself should be valued higher. but that would reduce the value of friendlies and tournaments and the rest of the cycle, and essentially mimic the qualifying table. i personally feel like the league style qualifying, particularly CONMEBOL or us, where everyone players everyone and gets home and away games, is probably the truest sense of how one stacks up. but then like i said, how do we compare to wales or japan.

      • Dave and IV: Canada is affected by a couple things. 1. Being historically bad, their baseline before was so low it is slowly taking them time to move up. Quarterfinals of 2019 GC, Semifinals in 2021. 2. Because of there weak performance prior to 2021 they were in the qualifying sections for regional competitions so they played a ton of games against island minnows. Beating teams ranked in the 150s doesn’t help you much. It did allow the team to gel and gain confidence in road Concacaf matches and learn how Herdman wants them to play. Last they’re 3-4 since March.

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