Coming off a glorious run of domination in the Gold Cup, the United States men’s soccer team jumped three spots in the
world rankings to 19th. The rise in the standings leapfrogs the squad over CONCACAF rival Mexico, who stayed ranked 20th.
The move into the world top 20 is certainly something to celebrate, we haven’t been ranked so highly since 2010. However, the standings are to be taken with a grain of salt. Brazil, who recently dismantled Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup, is ranked ninth. The rankings are heavily influenced by recent global tournaments that teams have not really cared too much about.
The Gold Cup was essentially a proving ground for CONCACAF members’ B teams. While Landon Donovan erased any doubts about his commitment or ability, he was playing without Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley. The United States’ current 11-game winning streak is more a product of an overall improvement in style of play and depth than a testament to world class ability.
US soccer fans have the right to puff their chest with pride in light of their team’s recent run of play. Teams can only play the games on their schedule and winning every game is no big deal only when you’re doing it.
The team’s next game is a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on August 14. Icelandic-American forward Aron Jóhannsson is expected to make his USMNT debut. He is a longshot to make the World Cup roster, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann has kept an eye on him for years.
The US will play its final four World Cup qualifiers in September and October, beginning September 6 in Costa Rica. The team’s performance in those games will speak volumes about World Cup preparedness compared to what we learned from the Gold Cup.
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