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Why the good, clean U.S. Soccer fans might WANT Mexico in the World Cup

Sep 11, 2013, 6:53 PM EDT

Mexico's head coach Luis Fernando Tena shouts to his players during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against the United States in Columbus Reuters

I get it. It’s fun right now for U.S. Soccer fans to watch Mexico desperately bail water.

I know it would be a real knee slapper for some of the passionate Yank supporters to see our bitter border rival miss out completely on World Cup 2014. Yep, I know a few folks personally who would hoot and holler and high five over that one.

But be careful what you wish for.

There would be implications beyond next summer for the entire region if Mexico misses out. Long story short, CONCACAF could face a reduction of places allocated for the following World Cup, which would reduce the U.S. chances of making an eighth consecutive World Cup appearance.

Four spots for CONCACAF (well, three-and-a-half), is controversial enough as it is.

(MORE: The tantalizing scenario developing between U.S., Mexico)

Imagine the hue and cry if the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama make it to Brazil – all while a strong country or two or three from Europe, and another one from South America cannot get in.

If that happens, when spots for World Cup 2018 are allocated, I would not be surprised to see CONCACAF get just three berths, without the extra play-in opportunity.

And next time around, it might be the United States rather than Mexico that suddenly finds itself on the wrong side of Murphy’s Law.

(MORE: The job for Jurgen Klinsmann is just getting started)

  1. jerichowhiskey - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Should we not hope Costa Rica and anyone else that qualifies to do well in the World Cup no matter who? Sentiment seems misplaced as Mexico is not good right now and their performance in the WC may well judge it for us on losing a spot to another federation.

    • wandmdave - Sep 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      Its really between Mexico and Panama since they are the ones fighting for that last spot. Between the two who would you assume is more likely to maintain (or even better improve) upon their current form. A Mexican team that is full of individual talent but underachieving to get a 1-5-2 record or a far less talented Panama team that is playing at their average if not better in order to get the same record?

  2. hildezero - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    As a Mexican and US Soccer fan, I really don’t care if Mexico goes to the World Cup or not. I just worry about the US team. I do think, though a World Cup without Mexico would be weird. Mexico missing a World Cup probably would hurt the CONCACAF, but that’s only if they miss it and CONCACAF teams (besides the US) do bad in the World Cup. If Mexico misses the World Cup and the other team that plays New Zealand, loses, then yeah, a lot of criticism would be coming at CONCACAF. The fact is, is that CONCACAF is different now. It’s not just that Mexico sucks now, everybody is improving and we all have to brace for impact and deal with it. So what, if a CONCACAF giant, misses the World Cup? There are plenty of other teams that can take their place. Every confederation goes through that. There’s always at least two to three big teams from their respective region that misses a World Cup. It’s normal. If New Zealand surprised a lot of people in South Africa, then why not Costa Rica or Honduras? Remember Honduras in the Olympics? Who knows? Maybe one of those countries can make an impact in Brazil and declare themselves as a new CONCACAF giant along with the US. If MLS improves, CONCACAF improves.

  3. soccerjohn - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    From a purely self-serving perspective, this is absolutely true. And I would certainly hate to see the US in the position Mexico’s in. But, I think it’s a travesty that CONCACAF gets 3.5 spots. The US currently sits atop the CONCACAF table, but FIFA and two more currently-focused ranking approaches (SPI, ELO) suggest that the US would be nip and tuck to qualify at all in UEFA or CONMEBOL. When a team goes 1-5-2 against CONCACAF with a total of 4 goals scored, I’d rather see it left out in favor of a better team. Even if that team is someday the USMNT. (Klinsmann forbid)

  4. sdisesa - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    I’ll still laugh if Mexico doesn’t make it. The play-in spot is kind of a joke anyway. If it’s Panama vs New Zealand, it doesn’t really matter who makes it to the World Cup, people will complain they got it over some better European or South American teams. Even if they change to only three spots, the US should be expected to qualify anyway. If we can’t make the top 3 in CONCACAF then we probably wouldn’t do much damage at the World Cup.

  5. braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Well said, Steve!

  6. danielofthedale - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Why does Mexico missing the World Cup mean fewer slots? Maybe a team the level of Mexico missing out means that not just the USA, but also Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama are all better too. That in fact CONCACAF is better than people think.

    • braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      It means missing out because Mexico and USA never miss a WC (over recent decades) AND both teams often get out of group play. Mexico and USA have often been considered a dangerous opponent in WC play, not to win it, but to effectively SPOIL it for a real contender.

      Simply put, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Jamaica, T&T, and all the others don’t have NEARLY the same reputation as CONCACAF’s Top Two.

      (Plus, Mexico, if they qualify, will almost certainly improve greatly by next summer.)

    • geojock - Sep 12, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      Agreed, it is kinda flawed logic. “Imagine the hue and cry if the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama make it to Brazil – all while a strong country or two or three from Europe, and another one from South America cannot get in.” – That would also mean that a ‘strong’ country from CONCACAF did not get in. You cant argue that a federation deserves LESS spots when they have a team that did NOT qualify that, year after year, is a top 20 team. Why not argue that if Mexico cant get in, CONCACAF needs MORE spots?? That logic being said, most people, including FIFA have way different perceptions of reality.

  7. creek0512 - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Let me know when any of those European teams starts traveling to Central America or the Carribean to play matches.

    • braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      @creek0512, EXACTLY!!! Those Euro fans think it’s so easy to do what we (USA) do. I’d love to see how they fare, having to play them one after the other, over and over. Arrogant cusses, I predict DEFEAT (occasionally).

      • notaretard - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        those euro fans watch their teams travel to world cups in south america, africa, and asia, and do quite well. get your head out of your CONCACAF fanboy butt and face reality

      • geojock - Sep 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        UEFA takes measures to prevent players in qualifying from being the targets of offensive WORDS. In CONCACAF they have to take action to protect players PISS, ROCKS, and other VIOLENCE. That is the difference. And that’s not even considering the long travel times, the poor fields, and unpredictable refs.

  8. Anoesis - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    The potential of my team being somehow penalized for Mexico’s incompetence doesn’t sit well with this bad, dirty U.S. futbol fan.

  9. Norrin Radd - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    I’m more worried about MLS and SUM not making enough money off the Mexican NT if they don’t make it.

  10. tylerbetts - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I’m confused. Are you saying that FIFA (and CONCACAF) would make a decision to make changes based entirely on on-field results, without considering the bottom line?

    Because I don’t see that. If anything, not having Mexico (or, *gasp* the USA) in the World Cup would hurt FIFA, as it would drive down television ratings in parts of the world (that’s the good old US of A, for the most part) that FIFA is still trying to fully capitalize on. I mean, just look at how much the Spanish rights have gone for recently.

    If ANY change comes from this, it would not be to remove a CONCACAF spot and make it MORE likely that the US or Mexico misses a future World Cup. The change that would come would be FIFA pressuring CONCACAF to change their qualifying structure, and make it more likely that both those countries would never miss another World Cup.

    After all, this is FIFA we’re talking about here. The priority is NOT quality of play, equity of qualifying spots, or the fan experience. The priority is, and always will be, the bottom line.

  11. talgrath - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    I think you’re looking at it wrong, it doesn’t matter who in CONCACAF gets through so long as they do well. If four teams that aren’t Mexico get through and all four get to the group stage (highly unlikely, but possible) that makes us look quite good. If Mexico gets through and gets destroyed due to poor play, that makes us look bad. All that matters is that the truly best teams win.

  12. braxtonrob - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    @notaretard, We’re talking about QUALIFYING (you imbecile), where Mexico and USA have to go play in all these tiny countries, something you obviously have zero appreciation of.

    And your statement of World Cup performances by Euro-teams, averages out the same as CONCACAF’s big two performances, so stick a sock in it.

  13. garne12 - Sep 14, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    Haha! all these reasons to see Mexico qualify are idiotic. If you cannot qualify out of CONCACAF, then you don’t deserve to go to the big show. What if Costa Rica, Honduras, or Panama play fairly well in the World Cup? Maybe that is what we should hope for instead of all this mention why Americans should want to see Mexico qualify. It would only mean one thing if the other nations prove they deserve to be in Brazil, CONCACAF as a whole is getting stronger. Also meaning, the USMNT are getting stronger.

    • braxtonrob - Sep 14, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      @garne, I take your point. But, the whole point of this discussion is really about CONCACAF ‘respect’; and, we’re not going to get that if in 2014, we send Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama, and then in 2018, we send Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and El Salvador.

      The whole point is – Mexico has a storied dominance (with the US) in this region, and if CONCACAF loses them as a CONSTANT (along with the US), then, in the long run, that can ONLY be bad for CONCACAF. No one is saying that Mexico needs to win in 2014; they’re all saying ‘Mexico needs to MAKE it’.

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