World Cup seeding -- and pride -- at stake when the U.S. men's soccer team faces Mexico in qualifier
That was the interesting part:
"U.S. coach Bruce Arena did the smart thing. In the final three meaningless qualifiers -- a scoreless tie in Guatemala, a 3-0 loss in Costa Rica and a 2-0 home win over Panama -- Arena packed the roster with inexperienced players.
But the results, combined with a who-cares 1-1 tie in Scotland that November, dropped the United States below Mexico in the FIFA rankings. And when the World Cup draw rolled around a month later, it was Mexico that received a top seed."
Mr. Giase seems to think Mexico were seeded at the expense of USA.
That is not true. Mexico were 5th in the seeding table, the USA were 9th, behind France, Italy and Argentina.
The matches against Guatemala, Costa Rica and Scotland only influenced the November 2005 FIFA ranking. Obviously, the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and the December 2003 and December 2004 FIFA rankings were already set in stone.
Here's the November 2005 top 10:
1 Brazil 841Full ranking on fifa.com.
2 Czech Republic 796
3 Netherlands 791
4 Argentina 774
5 France 772
6 Spain 771
7 Mexico 768
8 USA 766
9 England 757
10 Portugal 754
In order to be seeded, USA had to be at least 4th. And even then, they would have replaced Argentina, not Mexico.
Even winning against Guatemala and Costa Rica, I don't think the US could have climbed so high. Here's why:
In 2005, results from the last 8 years were taken into account, so it was not very easy to move quickly through the higher part of the table.
On top of that, the calculation method used back then placed greater weight on the best seven results in each of the 8 years. The match vs. Scotland was a friendly,
In order to prevent teams with more fixtures than this being given an advantage, the calculation initially considered only the best seven results of a team. To include further results an average of them must be calculated.
For example, if a team played twelve matches:
* The best seven of the 12 results were identified
* The total score for these seven matches was calculated (X)
* The total score for all 12 matches was calculated
* This total was divided by 12 and multiplied by seven (Y)
* The total for the seven best results was added to the seven "average" results (X+Y)
* This total (X+Y) was divided by two for the final score
The Gold Cup final tournament was played in July 2005. The USA registered wins against Cuba, Canada, Jamaica and Honduras, tied against Costa Rica and won after PSO against Panama.
Between November 2004 and September 3rd, 2005 (the match against Guatemala), the USA had played 7 World cup qualifiers, getting six wins (Trinidad and Tobago twice, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico) and a loss against Mexico.
Three friendlies with two wins (Colombia and Honduras) and loss to England.
Between November 2004 and November 2005 the USA have played 20 matches. With FIFA placing more weight on the best 7 results, getting the win in those three matches would have made little difference.
Let's assume the USA would have been 4th in November 2005.
In 2002, FIFA used the last three World Cups to compute the performance part. In 2006, they dropped the oldest one and it made no difference (see 2006 World Cup seeding post). With the USA 4th in the November ranking and with only two World Cup taken into account, the seeded teams would have been: Brazil, England, Spain, Germany, Mexico, France, Italy and USA. If we keep the 2002 seeding formula (using the last three World Cups), Argentina would return among the seeds.
Since FIFA announce the seeding formula after all the qualifiers are known, I don't think they would have dropped the oldest World Cup tournament from the equation.