Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top college talent

These are the top stats college players. Top players will be in Superdraft.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tier 2

Tier 2

1. Trinidad and Tobago 2. Panama 3. Canada

4. El Salvador 5. Jamaica 6. Cuba

The Tier 2 nations are always my favorite to do. This year I am adding 2 team to this group to make 6 nations. Honduras has graduated to Tier 1 but El Salvador and Cuba has joined this prestigious group. Here is how I rank each nation. Remember I am looking at World Cup Qualifying, the Gold Cup and then either the Nations Cup or the Caribbean Cup to rank the national teams. Then I will take a quick look at the domestic and see how it stacks up against other domestic leagues. I am making my judgment on the representative performance in the Champions league.

The top team in Tier 2 goes to the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago. I have not been a huge fan of Warner and that has affected my judgment of this great little soccer playing nation. Soca Warriors have participated in the last 3 hexagonal campaigns which is more than any other team in Teir 2. They also qualified for 1 World Cup Germany 2006. This aspect alone places Trinidad and Tobago on top of Tier 2. Trinidad and Tobago has also qualified for 7 of the last 10 Gold Cups. They have also dominated the Caribbean winning 8 of the last 14 Cups.
They also have a competitive domestic league. Joe Public is Warner’s team that plays in the domestic league. The Trinidad and Tobago team Defense Force has 2 CONCACAF Champions Leagues titles to boast about. These titles came back in 1978 and 1985. Most recently 2 Trinidad and Tobago club teams made the group stage in 2009-10 Champions League. San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection.Trinidad and Tobago gets the top spot in Tier 2 because of their consistent strong national team and Club teams.

Panama remains my second slot because the region of Central America is much better than the Caribbean region. Panama has to battle Costa Rica, Honduras and now El Salvador and Guatemala in the Nations Cup. Panama however has only qualified for 1 Hexagonal campaign out of the last 4. They came in dead last in Hex-06 with no wins 2 draws and 8 losses. They also had a -17 goal differential. This is what is keeping them out of Tier 1. They have had a bad overall record in the Nations Cup however thing are changing in Panama. They have qualified for the last 3 Gold Cups in a row. They even made it to the final in 2005 losing to the host. They won the last UNCAF Nations Cup in 2009 beating their rival Costa Rica in the Final. They also made it to the UNCAF final in 2007 losing to regional power Costa Rica. This strong showing of the national team places them second in Tier 2. They have recently investing $19 Million to refurbish their national stadium. Their domestic has been very poor for decades but there has been a huge upturn in both the national team and the Domestic league over the last 10 years. Tauto has the most Titles with 7. Arabe Unido is this years Champions League 2009/10 participant. They beat Honduran titan Olimpia in the Preliminary round. They surprised everyone by getting by MLS power Houston Dynamo and El Salvador rep Isidro Metapan.

Canada is my third team in Tier 2. I can only judge the national team by their performance in the Hex and the Gold Cup since they do not participate in UNCAF or Caribbean Cups. Canada has only made one hexagonal campaign out of the last 4. That campaign was in the 1998 qualifying and they came in dead last winning only 1 game. They have faired much better in the Gold Cup. They have qualified in 9 out of the last 10. They made the finals and won once in 2000. They made the semifinals twice in 2002 and 2007. They play very well in the States against the other CONCACAF teams.
They have built a national soccer specific stadium in Toronto called BMO Field ($65 Million) which opened in April of 2007. Canada does not have a domestic league but has Toronto FC and now Vancouver Whitecaps (2010) play in MLS. The Montreal Impact is also a very successful team in Canada. They had the most fans of any team during the 2009 Champions League topping over 50,000 in a league game. Toronto FC continues to be a leader in attendance for MLS. Even though they do not have the top team in MLS fans support their club in Toronto.

El Salvador make the jump from tier 3 last year into the 4th spot in Tier 2. Los Cuscatlecos have made the Hex 2 of the last 4 cycles. The beat Panama in the preliminary round then got by both Haiti and Suriname in the semi-finals. They were in the last Hex and had a very good showing for themselves. They beat both their top regional rival Costa Rica and Mexico in Cuscatlon Stadium. El Salvador was 8 losses and 1 tie since 2003 against Costa Rica. The last 2 games whey won in the important World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup matches. These were 2 significant victories for El Salvador against their regional power, a team they could never seem to beat. These victories are what propelled El Salvador into this group.
The have also participated in the Gold Cup 6 of it 10 times. They have not faired that well playing in the States. Their domestic is evolving and we are getting more exposure to the teams in El Salvador. What we do know is that there is more of an equal distribution of talented teams like Mexico and MLS. They do not have a few dominant teams like Honduras and Costa Rica. This should keep the competition going in El Salvador.

Jamaica remains in Tier 2. They remain here after a strong showing in World Cup Qualifying. They beat Mexico, Honduras and Canada in World Cup Qualifying. They also had an outstanding Caribbean Cup winning the 2008 Caribbean Cup Championship. Jamaica is one of the top Tier 2 teams because of the hardware. They have won the Caribbean Cup 4 times of the last 13 Cups. Since 1990 they are the only other Caribbean nation (besides Trinidad) to quality for a World Cup spots this coming in France 1998.They have qualified for the Gold Cup 7 of the 10 times. Jamaica however underachieved in the last Gold Cup 2009. They team had plenty of talent but floundered and did not mount a cohesive attack. This is the reason I place them behind El Salvador.
They have a competitive domestic league however there is no dynasty like other nations. This makes for great seasons have new faces in the Championship. A very popular team is Harbor View.

Cuba moves up out of Tier 3 to join this very competitive group in Tier2. I consider Cuba one of the 3 powers in the Caribbean. There is over 11 Million people who live on this island nation. It is to bad there players will defect when they play abroad. I believe this is the reason why they back out of the last Gold Cup. Players would have left the team and the nation politically looks bad. They have qualified for the Gold Cup 6 of the last 10 Cups.

Concacaf Tier 1

3 Tiers of CONCACAF 2009 update

Tier 1
1. Mexico
2. USA
3. Costa Rica
4. Honduras

Tier 1

I am going to rank the nations in CONCACAF as to the “program” that each country has. The ranking is based on the national team and the domestic league the nation has. The criteria I will use World Cup Qualifying, the Gold Cup and Caribbean Cup or UNCAF Cup to gauge the national team. I will also look at how the top Club teams from each country faired in the Champions league.
I believe there are 3 Tiers in the CONCACAF. The top tier now consists of 4 consistently good teams in (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras). The second tier has 6 teams and the rest are in Tier 3.
Mexico I see as the clear #1 spot. They have qualified for the last 4 Hexagonal rounds. They have also come in first twice and finished second the other 2 times. This placed them in the last 4 World Cups (I am only using last 4 Hex rounds). Mexico has also won the regional Championship (Gold Cup) a record 5 times. They are also the reigning Champion. El Tri won the 2009 Gold Cup slaughtering their archrival 5:0. This game was played in the states.
Now comparing the domestic leagues Mexico dominates. The CONCACAF Champions League 2008/09 all 4 Mexican teams made the knock out round. No other nation could knock them out. They had to knock each other out. Atlante beat Cruz Azul in the Final for the 08-09 Title. The CONCACAF Champions League 09-10 league had all 4 Mexican teams winning their groups. Mexico is the clear #1 in Club teams within CONCACAF. All leagues in CONCACAF strive to Mexico’s standard.
The Yanks get the second slot. They participated in the last 4 hexagonal rounds. They won the last HEX-09 with 20 points. They automatically qualified for the Gold cup since they host it. They have won the Gold Cup 4 times. The yanks strong national prowess places them into the #2 spot.
The domestic league is why I place them second. The MLS evolving very slowly. MLS is expanding almost every year. Seattle joined MLS this year, Philly next then Vancouver and Portland in 2011 to make 18 teams. The feeder system to MLS is supplied by college soccer players. Each year there is the Superdraft for the top players. The SuperDraft has produced some impact players like DC United Chris Pontius, LA’s Omar Gonzalez and Toronto’s G Stefan Frei. If each team can get impact players like the NFL then both the SuperDarft and MLS will flourish. The Yanks also have a good youth developmental program that also feeds the national team. The best news for the Yanks is the expansion of MLS and the Clubs that are building soccer specific stadiums. The Red Bulls are building Red Bull Arena at a cost of $180-200 Million. Investments like this will make sure there is some league to play in. Soccer playing kids now will have something to strive for just like their football, hockey, baseball and basketball playing classmates.
Costa Rica is the clear #3. The Tico’s have qualified for the last 4 Hexagonal rounds and qualified for the last 2 World Cups. They find themselves in a playoff with Uruguay for a spot in the World Cup South Africa. The Tico’s have also qualified for 9 of the 10 Gold Cups. The Tico’s have dominated the UNCAF Nations Cup since 1991. They have been in every Nations Cup final except one and have won a record 6 Titles. They have had the best national team in Central America.
They also have excellent teams at the top of their Domestic league. Saprissa and Alajuelense are two clubs that stand out. Saprissa has won the Champions League 3 times while Alajuelense has won it twice. The national team plays in Saprissa stadium with the God Awful turf the players hate to play on. Thank goodness China is building them a new national stadium pictured here. Costa Rica also has a very good youth program that feeds the national team and domestic league. They have been punching above their weight for years for such a small country.
Honduras joins the elite of CONCACAF with their consistent play in both the national team and domestic league over the last few years. This is great news for CONCACAF to have another quality team in this confederation. Honduras has made it to 2 of the last 3 Hexagonal qualifying rounds. They finally made their first World Cup since 1982 Spain. The dominated Costa Rica 4-0 and beat Mexico 3-1 in this year’s Hexagonal round. This should be a huge boost to its domestic league and soccer as a whole in Honduras. Honduras has also qualified for 9 of the last 10 Gold Cups. They advanced out of the Group state in 2005, 2007 and 2009 Gold Cups. They have beaten El Tri in Gold Cup 07 and Costa Rica in Gold Cup 05.
Their domestic league has very good talent at the top. Olimpia, Marathon, Real Espana and Montaua are the high profile teams that jump out at me in Honduras. Olimpia won the Champions League twice to represent Honduras on the Club stage. Marathon made the knock out round last year CONCACAF Champions League. The 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League place 3 clubs from Honduras (Marathon, Olimpia and Real Espana.) Marathon again made the knockout round. The strong showing of the national team and the consistent play of Honduras club teams solidifies their spot to join the Elite of ConCACAF.

Next will be tier 2
Posted by James Lagrange at 12

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The hex review

Well the 2010 CONCACAF HEX is in the books. The usual suspects in the Yanks and Mexico again qualified. That makes 6 in a row for the Yanks. Now if Mexico did not cheat that would be 7 World Cups in a row for the mighty Tri Color.(Mexico was disqualified from the 1990 World Cup because it had fielded ineligible, overage players in the 1988 Olympic qualifying tournament.)
Honduras has to be the biggest surprise in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. The received the automatic berth by gaining 16 points thus tying Costa Rica but beating them on goal differential. This will be the first World Cup for Los Catrachos since the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Hondurans need something to cheer about since their country is in disarray right now. There was a military-backed coup June 28 led by Roberto Micheletti, the former Congress speaker. Zelaya, the ousted President is believed to be in the Brazilian embassy and all surrounding countries are working for a peaceful solution. I, myself am ecstatic that another CONCACAF team besides the big 3 has made it to the big dance. This is Honduras best national team ever with the likes of MF captain Amado Guevara(Toronto FC) and Wilson Palacios(Totterham Hotspur) feeding the lightning quick Davis Suazo (Internazionale) and the giant Carlos Pavon up front. Hopefully they represent CONCACAF and more importantly Honduras well in South Africa.
Costa Rica is one of the 3 giants in CONCACAF. They have made the HEX in the last 4 cycles. Even more impressive is that they have made the World Cup the last 2 times and now find themselves is a playoff against a South American power Uruguay. Costa Rica has a huge challenge but Saprissa stadium will be an advantage and the pressure will mount on Uruguay. This will be a great 2 games.

Looking at the last 4 Hex’s it is hard to prove statistically that CONCACAF has improved. The US and Mexico have been 1-2 or 2-1. 3 of the 4 cycles. Costa Rica came up with a great performance in the 2002 cycle coming in first place with 23 points clearly beating the yanks and Mexico who ties with 17 points.