Update On Many Competitions Since I Last Blogged Two Months Ago
Posted on June 22, 2009 12:19 PM
In May, Chelsea won their third FA Cup in three years in England and Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona had a +70 goal differential in La Liga and also won the Copa Del Rey.
In early June there were World Cup qualifiers around the world. The Asian fourth round, which was the second of two group stages in that region, ended with Japan, Australia, Korea Republic (South Korea), and Korea DPR (North Korea) qualifying for World Cup 2010. Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Uzbekistan have been eliminated. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will play a two leg series with the loser eliminated and the winner advancing to a second two leg series against New Zealand for a spot in the World Cup.
Other than Asian teams and host South Africa, the only team to clinch qualification was the Netherlands, who won Group 9 in Europe. Group 9 had 5 teams, one fewer than the rest of the European groups. I root for Israel, who is currently fourth in Group 2. Nobody in Group 2 played in June.
In South America, Peru was eliminated and Bolivia has very little chance at qualifying. Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina currently occupy the automatic qualification spots through 14 of 18 games.
In CONCACAF, where the United States plays, the final six teams are half done with the 10 game final group stage. Costa Rica is in first, the United States in second, Honduras in third, Mexico in fourth, El Salvador in fifth, and Trinidad and Tobago in sixth. The top three teams qualify and the fourth place team plays the fifth place team from South America in a two leg series.
The group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 is done, and after beating Egypt 3:0 yesterday and having Brazil beat Italy by the same score, the United States got second in their four team group and advances to play Spain in one semifinal. Brazil and host South Africa will meet in the other semifinal. There is a third place game so those four teams will all play two more games in the tournament.
Returning to clubs, CONCACAF held the draw for their 2009-2010 Champions League, their second edition. Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) beat Montreal Impact of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division 6:1 to win the three team Nutrilite Canadian Champion Championship over Vancouver Whitecaps on goal differential. Toronto FC has to face the Puerto Rico Islanders, who were the top club not in Mexico in the 2008-2009 Champions League, in the qualifying round. My local MLS club, the New York Red Bulls, have 2 wins, 4 draws, and 10 losses more than halfway through their MLS season. After upsetting Houston and Real Salt Lake in last year’s MLS playoffs to qualify for the Champions League, the Red Bulls will play W Connection from Trinidad and Tobago, one of the top three clubs in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Tournament, in the qualifying round. It was newsworthy that due to countries not having adequate stadia, the champions of Belize and Nicaragua were not allowed to compete in the Champions League and were replace by third teams from Honduras and Costa Rica. If Panama had more adequate stadia they would have gotten a third team in instead of Costa Rica.
Earlier today, UEFA held the draw for the first two qualifying rounds for their 2009-2010 Champions League. The first qualifying round has only four teams in two matchups, with UE Sant Juli