CONCACAF changes World Cup Qualifying Process

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by NashSC, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    #1 NashSC, Jul 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    I figured this deemed discussion. I didn't see it being discussed elsewhere. Seems like a big change.
    I know it is not MLS specifically related but we have threads on Gold Cup and other topics.

    https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2019...hanges-world-cup-qualifying-format-2022-cycle

    The way I read it:
    - Top 6 FIFA ranked teams automatically get into the Hex. No qualifying for them to make it into HEX. Top 3 Hex finishers qualify for WC.
    - The rest of the teams ranked 7-35 play in a group stage followed by knock out rounds. Winner of this plays the 4th place Hex finisher.
    - Winner of this game plays the FIFA intercontinental playoff to possibly get into WC.


    So top 6 ranked teams get 50% chance of making World Cup and all other teams have 1 in 29 chance to play 4th place Hex team for a chance to play team from another region. That is a long path to make it to the WC for those teams.

    I am sure I will be blasted for this thought, but I have wondered why the new CONCACAF Nations League can't just be used as WCQ also. I guess it all comes down to money. I would like to see an actual competition decide our World Cup teams and not just FIFA rankings.
     
  2. newtex

    newtex Member+

    May 25, 2005
    Houston
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    That looks like an accurate summary. I know that CONCACAF was trying to get more meaningful games for the lower ranked teams, which they have accomplished, but this is a strange way to go about it.

    They are going to use the June 2020 FIFA rankings to determine the Hex participants. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out. The biggest factor in changing the rankings between now and then will be the recent Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League games this fall and next spring.

    The current (June) FIFA rankings for the top 15 of CONCACAF:

    1. Mexico
    2. USA
    3. Costa Rica
    4. Jamaica
    5. Honduras
    6. El Salvador
    =============
    7. Panama
    8. Canada
    9. Curacao
    10. Trinidad & Tobago
    11. Haiti
    12. Antigua and Barbuda
    13. Nicaragua
    14. St. Kitts and Nevis
    ------------------------------
    15. Guatemala

    Lots of those teams play each other in the CNL groups this fall.
     
  3. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    I just wish they would use the CONCACAF Nations League to determine World Cup qualifiers. 4 group winners qualify...well more specifically the 2 that make it to the final qualify. Also have a 3rd place match. 3rd place winner qualifies and 4th place finisher plays team from other region for spot.

    This however would remove a home and away US/Mexico series you would get in the Hex. This is probably why they will never do it the way I suggested. Just putting the top 6 ranked teams straight into the Hex seems way to manufactured for me and we all know FIFA rankings are seriously flawed and now we are using them to determine who gets in to the WC.
     
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  4. VioletCrown

    VioletCrown Member

    FC Dallas
    United States
    Aug 30, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Austin Aztex
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So, it looks to me like the Nations League is taking the place of the first round games that we used to have. So instead of games against St. Kitts and Grenada and the like, we get Canada and Cuba. One or two games in March for the Nations League playoff. Copa America in the summer? Then the Hex starts in the fall. Feels a little like the number of meaningful matches has been reduced for us?
     
  5. Justin O

    Justin O Member+

    Nov 30, 1998
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle
    If I understand you correctly, wouldn't this eliminate all but Nations League "League One" from even attempting to qualify for the World Cup? Can't imagine this would fly. And it shouldn't. Every team in the world should have a theoretical shot at qualifying.
     
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  6. ElNaranja

    ElNaranja Member

    Houston Dynamo
    United States
    Jul 16, 2017
    I would prefer a qualification for the Hex, then follow through with the rest. Sure itll probably be those same teams but it would be possible for everyone else to get in. Also means the smaller teams have 2 chances of qualifying: either to the Hex or winning the tournament, etc etc.
     
  7. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    Any team that makes it to the final stage of CONCACAF Nations league would have a chance.

    Currently only 1 team out of 7-35 have a chance to play a playoff against 4th place HEX team and if they win they then play a playoff against a team from another region.

    My suggestion wouldn't make it any harder. It is already going to be extremely remote anyone outside of the top 6 qualify.

    Edit: i may be wrong about how the Nations League works. I assumed all teams had a chance to make it into the final portion of the competition. I don't understand the 3 separate leagues. So it looks like my suggestion wouldn't work, but I still don't like the new way.
     
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  8. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If the Nations League will really be played on a 2-year cycle, and if you consider the Nations League meaningful, it's an overall increase in meaningful matches, with 8+ Nations League games replacing 6 games in the WCQ semifinal round.
     
  9. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Only the 12 teams in League A are eligible to reach reach the final stage of the Nations League. The World Cup requires an open qualifying competition that all members can enter. The new system, however ridiculous it is, meets that bar.
     
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  10. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    #10 NashSC, Jul 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    I edited my post to reflect this. I didn't understand how it worked. I was thinking it was more of a cup type competition as opposed to a season with promotion and relegation. How often is the Nations League going to be played? I can't find the answer to that despite Google searches.

    You could however use the Nations League to qualify teams for the Hex. Not sure how you do it with the 3 separate leagues but I am sure something could be figured out.
     
  11. newtex

    newtex Member+

    May 25, 2005
    Houston
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    It will be fewer World Cup qualifier matches for the teams in the Hex like the US presumably. But it will be more for almost everyone else.

    The bottom CONCACAF teams typically only get two or maybe four qualifiers every cycle. Now every team will get at least four and most will get a minimum of six qualifying games in the group stage.

    In combination with the Nations League they have really increased the number of meaningful games across the confederation.

    I still think this is a bad format for the qualifiers but they have increased the number of games for many teams.
     
  12. Bluecat82

    Bluecat82 Member+

    Feb 24, 1999
    Minneapolis, MN
    Club:
    Minnesota United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Maybe it's me, but the idea of the hex participants being decided by a formula rather than on the field doesn't sit very well with me.
     
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  13. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    There is however only 1 1/2 spot available to all teams outside of the Hex. That really should meet the "open to everyone" requirement.
     
  14. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    They should determine it by a coaches' poll.
     
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  15. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    It's not just you.
    I do not agree with using FIFA rankings to determine essentially all of the regions WC teams. With CONCACAF this is obviously all about giving a higher chance of its big money maker teams qualifying.
     
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  16. crookeddy

    crookeddy Member+

    Apr 27, 2004
    The thing is that they always qualify anyway, so that can't be the main reason.

    The other interesting thing is that with the current top 6, we have a less intimidating trip to Jamaica that say a Panama or Guatemala and an El Salvador team which is very weak. Even this Gold Cup team the USA just fielded can get 3rd here...
     
  17. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    I still don't agree with just handing it to the top ranked 6. Where it becomes a real issue is with teams 4-8. FIFA rankings aren't fine tuned enough to really differentiate those teams. Team ranked number 7 gets really screwed and there is nothing definitive/specific they can do to move from #7 to #6.
    It should be decided on the field and not by FIFA ranking formulas.

    I don't buy the whole "they always get in anyway" argument at all.
    Then why play any games? Lets just give the 3 spots to US, Mexico and Costa Rica.
     
  18. crookeddy

    crookeddy Member+

    Apr 27, 2004
    Well FIFA puts a huge emphasis on continental competitions, so what Concacaf just did is make the Gold Cup and probably nation's league wayyyyyyyyy more important. Amazingly shrewd business move here, even though it turns WCQ into college football.
     
  19. Fighting Illini

    Fighting Illini Member+

    Feb 6, 2014
    Chicago
    You can see the coalitional politics at work here. This is great for the US and Mexico, and great for all the tiny teams, but rough for the Honduras' and Panama's in the middle.

    It makes a certain amount of sense given the desire to see the Gold Cup and Nations League increase in importance I guess.

    CONCACAF is just such a weird and tricky region to deal with.

    An overriding concern here seems to be that USA or Mexico rolling 8-0 over the St. Vincent and the Grenadines of the world ultimately doesn't particularly well serve either party, which I think is true.

    Now there's pretty much no access for those teams to play the big boys unless they win their way there. Moving the Gold Cup to 16 teams is a step in the opposite direction I guess.
     
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  20. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just to point out, only CONMEBOL (because they play a flat round robin) and UEFA (because everyone goes into the groups at the start) don't use FIFA rankings at some point in their WCQ process. However those are also the only two that don't require teams to play multiple rounds to qualify (UEFA has a second round with the playoffs, but team qualify from the first round). So while teams in the AFC, OFC, and CAF get byes based on their FIFA rank, they don't get a bye into the final qualifying round.
     
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  21. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't love the setup, but one part I really do like is the "secondary" competition that will allow a team a shot against the 4th tam in the hex. That means that instead of a year where the only meaningful games are the 30 Hex games over 10 dates we get meaningful games up and down the confederation.
     
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  22. Fighting Illini

    Fighting Illini Member+

    Feb 6, 2014
    Chicago
    Looking at this and the Nations League as one suite of changes, and you understand what they're trying to do. Have everyone in the confederation playing relatively competitively balanced matches with genuine stakes all throughout the cycle.

    Real contenders for a WC spot occasionally getting shunted into some Dante's Inferno of a secondary WCQ competition isn't great in a vacuum, but it's a relatively small price to pay to accomplish that larger goal.
     
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  23. lurak

    lurak Member+

    Aug 24, 2007
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    These changes also correspond with the expanded field for the World Cup, correct?

    I don't really like it, but nobody cares about me. I do see how it gives the smaller nations more games which is helpful because they don't necessarily play many friendlies due to cost of travel, but it really does lock in Mexico and the US for the World Cup.
     
  24. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No, it's still 32 teams and 3.5 for CONCACAF for this one.

    It doesn't really lock Mexico and the US in. It frees them from a possible collapse in a 4-team semifinal group, but they are still in the same hex format they were in for 2014 (Mexico extremely fortunate to squeeze in via 4th-place playoff) and 2018 (USA did not qualify).
     
  25. Neubill

    Neubill Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Southern Kelehfornya
    I agree with your opinion about this “secondary” competition.

    I’d like to see the competition for the 4th spot involve a neutral venue group stage consisting of the top two finishers from the “secondary” competition and the 4th and 5th placed Hex teams.

    ...and while it might be more competitive, it wouldn’t generate money like a home-and-home would.
     

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