This was originally going to be an outraged post about the travesty that is the FIFA World Soccer Rankings. Then, I took a look at the list, and all the teams above us, and realized the terrible truth: yeah, they got it pretty much right. We’re that terrible.
Currently, the US Men’s Soccer Team is ranked 30th in the world. To put that in perspective, we currently are worse than the Ivory Coast, sorry, Cote d’Ivoire (pop. 18.3 million, and six years without a major rebel uprising!) at soccer. That’s pretty damn low considering we were fourth heading into the 2006 World Cup. To be fair, the Ivorians did play in the last World Cup too, and the ’06 rankings caused such controversy and derision worldwide they forced FIFA to change the ranking system after the World Cup.
The world rankings are determined based on the total amount of points a national team earns over the previous four years. Frankly, we’ve had a really, really bad last four years, including our awesome showing at the 2006 World Cup.
Yet, it’s already qualifying time again and we’re off to a good start in CONCACAF qualifying. We’re currently grouped with such powerhouses as Barbados, Guatemala, and Cuba. Put it this way: we had better qualify for 2010 in South Africa.
The question is whether we’ll get any respect on the way there. I kind of hope we’ll stay under the radar. CONCACAF is absurdly easy to qualify in and this current team is in a weird transition phase at the moment, so it really is hard to take us seriously right now. But we’ve got experienced players like the (invisible in 2006) Landon Donovan and the official favorite player of Rumors and Rants Clint “Deuce” Dempsey. Plus Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore are the best two young players our national side has ever had. They should have their crap together (unless Steve Sampson shows up somehow) by 2010.
So yeah, we’re 30th in the world right now, and only 169 spots ahead of East Timor, a country that didn’t even officially exist until 2002, when we were getting completely screwed against Germany (fast forward to about 3:08) in the knockout round in South Korea/Japan. On a side note, Phillips and I rooted for Spain in the Euro 08 final because of this incident. Six years is in no way too long to carry a grudge. We’re on that Bill Simmons vs. Kareem level now. At least we took World War I and II, right?
And, though this is soccer and the words “fans” and “panic” go together like “retired NBA player” and “broke,” this blogger, for one, is feeling okay about our position in the world. No pressing of the Jay Mariotti Memorial Panic Button here. To prove it, how about a few time-tested platitudes before I conclude:
We just have to go out there and take it game by game, give 110%, and, god-willing, we’ll win some games. It’s all about team here. We’ve got a great bunch of guys and I’m glad they get to go out there every day and go to battle with these guys and these fans. They’re the greatest in the world.