Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Golden thoughts

To most onlookers, CONCACAF seems like a two-nation outfit. The prevailing thought seems to be that whatever way you rank them, the U.S. and Mexico are the two best nations in CONCACAF followed distantly by Costa Rica and then the rest of the muck that infests this region.

There is some truth to that. Mexico has been in 13 World Cups and has qualified for each of the last four. The U.S. has been in each of the last five, and unless the rules for qualification change soon it's difficult to imagine either country not qualifying for a World Cup anytime soon.

Thus, on the eve of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, it would seem like almost a foregone conclusion that the U.S. and Mexico will meet in the final. But history suggests otherwise.

The U.S. and Mexico met in the Gold Cup final in 1993 and 1998.

The U.S. and Mexico did not meet in the Gold Cup final in 1991, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

While this region might be a two-headed monster, that doesn't always translate into the Gold Cup. Keep that in mind before making plans for a US-Mexico final in Chicago on June 24.


Matt said...

Didn't all those past tournaments have some pretty high profile guest nations that knocked off Mexico or the U.S. on occasion? I seem to remember Brazil, Colombia, and South Korea among others playing in past Gold Cups.

You'd have to figure a U.S. - Mexico final is even more likely since there are no guest nations this year.

Siva said...

I'd like to see the record for the US and Mexico national teams ON THE ROAD in Jamaica, Guatemala, and T&T, to name but three CONCACAF nations, before dismissing them as "muck that infests this region".

And yet we complain if somebody in England claims that soccer "in America" is not at Beckham's high standard.

Given the past performance of the US (and Mexico) in the world cup finals, a fair argument can be made that US and Mexico are mere muck that infest the world cup all too frequently (at the cost of, say, two more countries from Europe with richer soccer tradition and perhaps even stronger teams).

A bit of respect for our neighbors wouldn't hurt, IMHO.

Richard said...

exactly what matt said. there will be no brazil to knock us out this time. on to our 2-0 victory gentlemen!

L.B. said...

Siva, I do have respect for the neighbors here. I said "the prevailing thought" because that seems to be what most people consider Jamaica, Trinidad, Guatemala, etc., to be.

I think Guatemala will give the US a harder time than many expect and in fact I was planning on researching previous US-Guatemala encounters to see what the scores are and such. I remember a qualifier in 2000 in DC that the US needed desperately and barely won 1-0.

Panama made a nice run to the final last time from out of nowhere. We could very well see that from Honduras or Canada or someone else this time around.

I don't care what anybody says, a US-Mexico final is most definitely not a foregone conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Concacaf is definitely not the worst or easiest conference around.

Mexico and the US are the cream of the crop but when one compares Honduras, Costa Rica, T&T, Panama and Jamaica and so on with the minnows of Europe, one could argue they would beat them soundly more often than not. Obviously, the elite teams in the world will always qualify for the World Cup but look at teams like San Marino, Lichtenstein, Farrow Islands, Iceland, Cyprus, Andorra, Moldova, Albania, and so on and Europe's elites get easy pickings as well.

The US and Mexico will continue to improve, and both are going to be real forces for the next WC. However, I couldn't believe how much Panama has improved last time I saw them play, and even T&T and Jamaica should push CR or Honduras for that third automatic spot. If Canada ever gets it together, it could make thngs real interesting.

FYI-how come nobody mentions that Mexico would have 6 WC in a row were it not for illegality and disqualification. Incidentally, that 1990 squad was one of the best teams to not play in a WC.