07 July 2006

In defense of CONCACAF

This is a little cynical even for me. I don't think he's wrong, exactly, but still. If there's no hope, why even bother? You're not playing for pride at that point. I'll fully agree that the US were wretched in two of their games, and Costa Rica didn't really show up, either. But Mexico had a great game against Argentina, and T&T did better than anyone expected them to. Yes, they only got a draw, but come on. They played well (and more entertainingly than England), and only losing 2-0 is pretty respectable. Everyone expected them to crash and burn, but they fought, and I have a total thing for the plucky little underdogs.

Not that CONCACAF should be thrilled with this Cup. But it's not as awful as he says. I think getting more players in Europe will make a difference -- the non-European teams that performed best, like Ghana and Argentina, had a lot of players overseas. I don't think it'll be instantaneous, but it'll do more for the development of the international team than playing in a bush league like MLS will. I also think playing in more international competitions will help. I don't think CONCACAF should merge with the South American conference; it's just not at that level yet. But one of the best things they could do is improve the level of the teams they play against -- they've been invited to Copa America several times, and that's got all of the South American teams. It's a good step between the useless friendlies and being in the same conference. (Also, seriously, step up the level of the friendly competition. Playing Morocco and Jamaica's not doing you any favors.)

So, it'll be hard, and it'll take a while. But I don't think you can say a CONCACAF team will never win it all. The next Cup's in South Africa. Out of Europe, all bets are off.

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