I for one am a huge critic of the FIFA ranking system. Through this article I'm going to give one of the biggest reasons: The USA being ranked 15 in the world.
Though I am not saying the US is a terrible team, I am saying that the US is not better than #16 Uruguay, #19 Cameroon, or even #30 Nigeria.
This isn't the first time the USA has been inaccurately ranked highly. Let's not forget that before the 2006 World Cup, The US was ranked #5, yes five, in the world; they didn't make it out the first round.
So how is this possible?
How does the United States manage to be place over teams with clearly more talent (Nigeria has stars such as Obafemi Martins, Victor Obinna, and John Obi Mikel). Easy. The level of competition. Now, before I get into the level of competiton, I will break down the FIFA ranking point system.
A win (with no penalty shootout) is three points. With shootouts, it's two points.
A draw and a loss (with penalty shootout) is one point apiece.
A loss is 0 points.
The point system is also weighted. Therefore a FIFA World Cup qualifier and a Continental Cup qualifier is x2.5. A Continental Cup or Confederations Cup Finals is x 3.
Do you see where I'm going?
The United States constantly beats up on teams with poor teams with even poorer economies. As the United States continues to beat on teams like Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica, we continue to rack up points. Especially in World Cup Qualifiers and CONCACAF victories.
This is also one of the reasons that the United State constantly makes it to the World Cup.
Teams like Uruguay, play such difficult competition, that it is not even guaranteed that they make the World Cup.
Could you imagine if the US had to play Brazil, Argentina, or Ecuador on our route to the World Cup?
The problem is: the United States is not to blame. It is not the fault of United States that the other competition in our confederation are average at best.
Recently, our main rival has been Mexico. But now they are struggling to find a manager and form. They're national team is in danger of our sharp decline. As they decline, so does our level of competition.
Since we can't raise the level of competition in our confederation, it's up to the US National team to challenge themselves with International Friendly matches.
Last year, the United States started to do this with friendly matches against England, Spain, and Argentina. American fans were enthralled that the United States was attempting to make they're presence known on the international stage.
It is imperative that the United States continue to do that. Our players can only get better from doing so.
We can't get better from pounding small islands like Hurricanes. More importantly, we can't get complacent just because the FIFA rankings have us at #15. Simply, we are not the 15th best team in the world.
Being a United States soccer fan I find this painful to write. However, I feel that it is necessary. By realizing that the United States is not a #15, we and the United States team can realize that we still need to get better.
Our ranking is not a reflection of our work. There is much work to be done until the USA can deserve this ranking.