Saturday, April 9, 2011

CONCACAF tournament tweek is Guatemala's gain

I love the World Cup until the yanks get knocked out and have to suffer through watching some European nation make a dramatic run that seems to stir great excitement. Some year I want my yanks to make that great run that we can talk about. The other international tournaments like the U-20 and U-17 are tournament where I can print out the brackets with the national flags on them. These tournaments my yanks have a much better chance to advance deep into the tournament. Well this years USA U-20 is the best Thomas Rogen has ever had. As I watched the U-20 team, not play but dominate the game against Panama and Suriname I was quite optimistic. The yanks were always going forward, they were individually creative on the ball, they were faster and more tactically sound that any team (except Mexico tactically) than anyone in CONCACAF. They would set the high water mark for the confederation in the FIFA World Cup in Columbia. I could hardly wait. Then they lost. They lost to a Guatemala team that realized they had a dynamic chance to advance to their first ever FIFA U-20 World Cup. How you say? Well CONCACAF officials change the format to create such a chance for the “lesser quality” teams to have a chance to gain one of the 4 slots. The format has 12 teams but the groups are only 3 teams. 8 teams qualify for the knockout round. This 3rd game is the most important game. This third game is do or die. This third game anything can happen. This third game allows a team like Guatemala knock off the Titans in CONCACAF. I have to say I am extremely disappointed in the yanks lack of participating in the World Cup. They would have done well and I am hardly optimistic on USA teams in international competitions

One nation’s pain is usually the other gain. This is great for Guatemala. Guatemala is ranked 17th in FIFA CONCACAF ranking. They more than likely will not make the FIFA World Cup in the next qualifying round. They will not even be favorites to advance to the Semi-final groups of 12 nations. This is depressing for all Guatemalan’s. The U-20 CONCACAF Championship was played in Guatemala. This tournament was a source of pride for Guatemala. This tournament was their chance to do something big. There is no doubt the fans spur the national team on to do the impossible. They scored a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Titans of CONCACAF, in front of a raucous crowd. Done it with out the crazy format but that is what CONCACAF wanted to create. IT created excitement for Guatemala and allowed them to participate in the next World Cup. Guatemala did it by following the rules however crazy they seemed. This U-20 FIFA World Cup could be Guatemala new “golden years” for soccer going forward. This tournament could give them the confidence they desperately need. All Guatemalans will look to this group to carry the torch for the Guatemala national team.

Mexico went on to win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship against Defending Champion Costa Rica. Guatemala beat Panama to take 3rd place. This third place finish also qualified Guatemala for the Pan-Am games.


Lorric said...

And so the ridiculous format rears it's head early. It's not the sudden death quarter finals that bother me. Other confederations use them too. It's the group stages of only 2 games, which create big disparity, and allow teams to have advantages over others by playing in the final game when someone else has already played both games. It also creates a far too high chance of places being settled by the flip of a coin. And look at Cuba, qualifying for the quarters without scoring a goal and getting beat 3-0. Why does the Caribbean get 5 places either? That's a joke. It should be 4.5 for both Central America and the Caribbean. Let the two regions decide who is fit to claim a 5th spot with a playoff. Seeding is poorly organised too. Panama should have been seeded in this, not Canada. They proved why, making it 4/5 U20 World Cup qualifications, and making my prediction that they could take on anyone in group A true at the expense of Honduras. It will be a travesty if Panama is not seeded in the next tournament, they have more than earned it with that record. Although is an argument to seed Costa Rica instead with their two finals in the last two tournaments. Canada have done very little. It's bad enough they auto qualify.

This should create real interest and incentive in countries wanting to host though. Both tournaments, we hava a team that has never qualified for a World Cup at any level in Guatemala qualifying for the first time, and at U17 level, a team which only once in a while qualifies for a World Cup in Jamaica. Both cashed in on their home fans and automatic top seeding to claim a World Cup place.

2/2 for hosts under the new system.

Why can't they just do it like the Gold Cup? Surely it would be most useful to the players who would aspire to play in that tournament to play the same format?

Also, I'd be seething if I was from El Salvador. Such worthless opponents Costa Rica ploughed through on their way to a World Cup place. I bet El Salvador would easily have qualified for the U20 World Cup.

What happened to the Curacao article? I tried to comment on it and it disappeared! Anyway, Curacao should simply be an inferior version of Netherlands Antilles with a smaller population base to draw on, unless you know something I don't.

James Lagrange said...

Hello again Lorric...always look forward to your comments...I am still working on Curacao and wanted to space out the posts. I am home sick from surgery and do not want to overpost

Lorric said...

Hmmm. You saying that makes me wonder what surgery you had done...

Of course, I don't expect you tell me, which would mean along with anyone who might read the blog.

It's nice to know you look forward to the comments.

Oh, I watched a few games at the CONCACAF U20. US team didn't look like much. Hard to believe this is supposedly their greatest generation.