Every World Cup cycle we are always ready for our US Men’s National Team to improve with new players and challenge the best or what is considered the best teams within the Confederation of CONCACAF. That also includes the trip to Estadio Azteca and of course our rivals coming to the freezer at Columbus Crew Stadium during the final round of qualifying of every World Cup. Well unfortunately things are going to change for this coming qualifying cycle and that means one thing. The border war derby has been scratched.
From Ives Galarcep I just found out about the new structure for the 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign and I have to say it’s a terrible situation for both Mexico and the USA. The main reason is that these two sides will not face each other at all unless it’s a Gold Cup Final or the annual International Friendly matches that will always be on American soil.
In the first round there will be eight groups of four with the top two winners of each group advances to a second round with four groups of four, then the top two winners of each group will enter the final round as two groups of four. The winners of both final round groups will advance to the World Cup while the second place finishers will face each other in a playoff for the third spot. Or if FIFA decides to eliminate the half spot playoff with South America since Brazil automatically goes in as the host country, then CONCACAF could get four automatic spots for the top two finishers of both groups.
Nothing is official til July of 2011. Once a date within that month has been secured on FIFA’s International calendar, that’s when all six Confederations will submit a qualifying proposal and the qualifying draws for the 2014 World Cup will proceed. But from what has been written, it sounds like CONCACAF’s new World Cup Qualifying plan will be accepted.
Of course the idea of this new qualifying plan is to give the smaller known nations a chance to face the big boys of North America, Central American and the top two Caribbean sides like Jamaica and Trinidad And Tobago. But if that was the real case then the last two qualifying cycles I thought were strong enough to achieve that goal.
When I heard the rumors of this change happening I thought I could help out CONCACAF by creating my own World Cup Qualifying plan with the help of the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings. Using the current August 11th CONCACAF Rankings as an example, those ranked first through twelfth would be apart of four Semi-Final Round groups as the last position would be fought for through early qualifying stages.
In round one nations ranked from twentieth to last will face each other through home “n” home qualifying. Round one winners will face each other in round two and those teams ranked fourteenth through nineteenth will start in round two as well. Round 2 winners will face each other in round three to fight for the final semi-final group spot with the exception of group D. Thirteenth ranked nation will await the winners of round 2. All earlier round qualifiers will be contested as goal aggregate qualifiers along with the Away Goals Rule.
Then the top two winners of each semi-final group will advance into the dream proposal of an eight nation final round group. That would mean the World Cup qualifying battles between Mexico and the USA would remain in-tact and things would be just fine. But as I have said if CONCACAF has this new idea for World Cup Qualifying accepted by FIFA, then the biggest rivalry of the Confederation will be pushed out and that is something CONCACAF can’t lose.
Six precious points on the line between the top two sides of the Confederation and what does it mean when you have new talented players making their way to the National Team and they won’t play their top rival during qualifying. At the same time you never know if Mexico and the USA will play each other in the final of next year’s Gold Cup tournament.
I hope FIFA will inform CONCACAF’s competition committee that this proposal is rejected and just stick with what has worked the last two qualifying cycles.