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.