Tag Archives: qualifying

CONCACAF Update – Last night of WCQ

Tonight is the last round of the Hex to determine which teams from CONCACAF automatically qualify for the World Cup Finals in Brazil.  The U.S. and Costa Rica are already in, so that only leaves one more automatic spot.  Unless something dramatic happens tonight in Costa Rica, that appears to be Honduras.  Honduras currently sits three points clear of Mexico and seemingly has the easier game — they travel to Jamaica who will be trotting out a young team in preparations for the next major tournament.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, will be playing their regulars as they host Mexico.  Mexico is three points clear of Panama, who is hosting a rotated U.S. squad, but if Panama beats the U.S. badly, depending on the score of the Costa Rica – Mexico match,  anything can happen.  Here is the current table heading into the last match:

USA 9 6 1 2 12 6 19
Costa Rica 9 4 3 2 11 6 15
Honduras 9 4 2 3 11 10 14
Mexico 9 2 5 2 6 7 11
Panama 9 1 5 3 8 11 8
Jamaica 9 0 4 5 3 11 4

The most obvious result is that USA, Costa Rica, and Honduras automatically qualify while Mexico has to play in through the playoff against New Zealand.  While there are many US fans who are glad of Mexico’s struggles, I for one want to see them in Brazil.  Their difficulties in qualification do suggest that CONCACAF has gotten stronger, but it would be a shame if our historically strongest team were missing in Brazil.  That doesn’t seem to bode well for CONCACAF going forward.

The US game and the Honduras game will be aired on beIN Sport and beIN Sport Esp.  The Mexico game will be on Telemundo. All games kickoff at 8:30 pm tonight.

European WC Playoff – How UEFA Gets to 13 Teams with 9 Groups

OK…so UEFA (Europe qualifying) gets 13 teams into Brazil for the World Cup Finals.  They start with 53 teams.  They are divided into 9 groups.  The winner of each group qualifies for the finals.  So far, that is Belgium (A), Italy (B), Germany (C), Netherlands (D), Switzerland (E), Russia (F – if they hold onto their 1-0 lead at half).  The remaining groups can go either way.  At halftime, Greece looks to go in its Group G with Bosnia-Herzegovina to playoff.  England plays Poland later with Ukraine still in the running for automatic qualification.  Assuming Spain at least draws at home to Georgia, they automatically qualify. But, how are the remaining 4 places allocated?

According to the UEFA qualifying rules, the “eight best group runners up” will contest in home and away based on a draw for the remaining four spots.  Not quite sure what that means because, in Group I, France will have played one less game than all the other potential runners up.  But, based on the schedule today, my guess is as follows:

Croatia (A), no one from Group B, Sweden C, Romania edging out Turkey in D, Iceland (hopefully) in E, Portugal in F, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Greece in G, Ukraine in H, and France in I.  The rules are vague as to how the draw is conducted — do Coca Cola rankings apply?  Surely France will not play Portugal….that would be a bummer.

One thing is clear, the playoff round will be between November 15 and 19th of this year.


International Break — Get Ready for World Cup 2014

The soccer season kicked off a few short weeks ago.  Just when things were getting good, players moving, Man City contemplating a $95 million dollar bid for “sad” Ronaldo, Arsenal beating Liverpool at Anfield with scores from two of their new signings, West Brom running away with the league…a two week break.  Don’t despair.  It is actually a good thing!

We are in an international break to allow time for qualifying matches for World Cup 2014.  If you just cannot wait for Brazil, the good news is that you do not have too!  Most teams will play a match this Friday followed by a match the next Tuesday.  What fun!  Here is a link to the great World Cup website:  World Cup Website.  So, while you are lamenting the lack of club soccer the next two weeks, get excited about the story lines heading to Brazil, like

1.  If this is the golden age of soccer in Belgium, will they actually qualify for a major tournament?

2.  Will England insert life into their wings with Sterling and Ox?  Can Hodgson live up to #3 World Ranking?

3.  Can Brazil recapture the magic of 1970 at home?    Are they in the middle of another Golden Era?  Is Neymar the next Pele?

Neymar & Hulk

4.  How many more goals does Forlan have in him?

5.  Who will replace Pirlo in Italy?

6.  Was the Dutch performance in the Euros a sign of decline?

7.  Will the Germans be the most creative attacking team?  I mean, Ozil, Reus, Gotzke, Schurrle, Marin, Kroos,…and the list goes on.  Will Neuer accept the mantle of best GK in the world?

8.  Can Spain add a 4th Major tournament victory in row?  Will their core be too old in Brazil? Will they give the best player in the EPL a starting spot (yes, talking about Cazorla!)

9.  Will the US qualify without Bradley and Donovan in two games against Jamaica?

10.  Can Messi shine in National Team competition?  How will Argentina fare?

Can Belgium’s Golden Generation Qualify?

I am sure you can think of many other interesting issues.  Important games are coming up, including a biggie with Belgium playing host to group favorite Croatia on September 11.  If you need a darkhorse to follow, join me in following the Red Devils of Belgium.  With Eden Hazard creating, Lukaku up front with a robust midfield featuring Dembele, Witsel, Fellaini, and Defour, they seem strong in the middle and up front.  And, at the back, they have the best center back in the world, Vincent Kompany, who will likely be paired with Vermaelen, Vertongen, and Van Buyten.  They have bright young stars in Chadli and Alderweireld.  So, if you need someone to root for, root for the Red Devils!

As for USA, they play Jamaica away on Friday then host them the following Tuesday.  They are currently tied with Jamaica on points and would count a draw away with a home victory as a major coup.  I will be missing Bradley as I love how he “pulls the strings” for the team, but will be cheering them.Post your World Cup interests here.  Here we come Brazil!