World Cup Qualifying Round-Up: England Qualifies, the US saves Mexico's life

10/16/13 in Soccer   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - World Cup Qualifying Round-Up: England Qualifies, the US saves Mexico's lifeYesterday marked the biggest day yet in World Cup qualifying. It was the last day of qualification in North and South America, as well as the last day of round one in Europe. As such, the field for the 2014 World Cup is starting to take shape. 21 teams have qualified, and another 22 are still in the mix for the final 11 spots. Let's take a look at where things stand.

CONCACAF (North America)

Team USA had already qualified going into yesterday's final matches, as had Costa Rica. Honduras qualified last night after tying Jamaica. Pat already wrote about how the US saved Mexico's bacon last night with two last minute goals against heartbroken Panama. That, however, only prevented Mexico from being eliminated. As the 4th place finishers in the Hexagonal, Mexico now must win a two-legged home-and-home playoff with New Zealand next month to qualify. We may have saved Mexico for now, but they still to take a long trip and get it done to qualify, and they've shown no indication that they will be able to do that.

UEFA (Europe)

European qualifying is done in two stages. The first stage was completed yesterday. Each team in UEFA is put into nine groups (eight with 6 teams, one with 5 teams). The winners of each of those groups qualify for the World Cup. Going into Tuesday, the Netherlands and Italy had already qualified as group winners. Tuesday added Belgium, Switzerland (who somehow will be seeded in the World Cup draw like they're a top team), Germany, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (make their first appearance in the World Cup), England (who needed to win on Tuesday to qualify), and defending champion Spain.

Now comes the second stage, where the eight best group runners-up are paired up and play a home-and-home leg. Best aggregate score qualifies. The eight teams, which have not been paired up yet are: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Ukraine, France, Iceland, Romania, and Sweden. If Iceland qualifies, they will become the smallest nation by population ever to qualify for the World Cup. As for France, we all know what happened the last time they were in a World Cup playoff.

CONMEBOL (South America)

Argentina and Colombia were already in going into last night. Chile and Ecuador joined them last night, and of course Brazil was automatically in as the host. 5th place Uruguay, who finished 4th overall in the 2010 World Cup, can still make it by winning a home-and-home playoff with the Asian side Jordan.

CAF (Africa)

Africa has yet to award any of its five bids, but its final phase has begun. The 10 teams remaining were paired-off are have completed leg one of their home-and-home playoff. Best aggregate score qualifies, losers get bupkus. The Cinderella run going in was the run of war-torn Egypt, now coached by former Team USA coach Bob Bradley. The Pharaohs came into the playoff having not lost a qualifying match to date, the only team that could say that. Unfortunately, it all fell apart in their first leg match against Ghana. Egypt didn't play that well, but Ghana (who eliminated Bradley's US team in the quarterfinals in the 2010 Cup) played great, winning 6-1 and basically putting it away. The other four play-offs currently sit through the first leg as follows:
  • Ivory Coast leads Senegal 3-1
  • Nigeria leads Ethiopia 2-1
  • Burkina Faso leads Algeria 3-2
  • Tunisia and Cameroon are at 0-0
AFC (Asia)

The Asian Federation completed qualifying back in June. The four teams that qualified are Japan, Australia, Iran, and South Korea. Jordan can still qualify if they win next month's playoff with Uruguay.

OFC (Oceania)

New Zealand won the Oceania region qualifying, but they do not have a direct bid into the World Cup. New Zealand will play Mexico in the playoff for a spot.

There's the situation. We know most of the 2014 World Cup field. We'll know the entire field is a month or so.
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10/17/13   |   Scott   |   54664 respect

With the way the US has played the last year, it's too bad the World Cup wasn't this past summer.