CONCACAF Revises Mens World Cup Qualifying

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mgarbowski

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https://soccer.nbcsports.com/2019/07/10/new-concacaf-world-cup-qualifying-method-is-downright-outrageous/

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2019/07/10/concacaf-announces-changes-world-cup-qualifying-format-2022-cycle

It's complicated, I think is accurate: The Hex is (mostly) not changing, but there will be no group play to qualify for the Hex. Instead, the top 6 FIFA ranked teams will just go into the Hex and the top 3 teams from the Hex get WC spots same as it ever was. Everyone else goes into a minnows tournament that produces one winner. That winner plays H2H in a H/A tie against the 4th Place Hex finisher. The winner of that matchup gets the half-bid and has to play-in against someone from another confederation. In the past that has been Asia I think but I also think that is subject to possible change.

It seems that CONCACAF is trying to keep some of the minnows alive and interested while the Hex is taking place instead of eliminating them all before the Hex. OTOH it makes it harder for bubble teams like T&T to get hot in group play and qualify for the Hex which is a lot better than being in the Minnows competition. And on the gripping hand, if you win the minnows tourney you just need to get lucky and beat the 4th place team to get the half-spot, which is arguably easier than finishing top 4 in the Hex.

Not sure what I think, either in terms of general fairness, what is more interesting, or what's best for the U.S.
 

Gotham Gator

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Yeah, I saw this. It's interesting. I guess the biggest complaint is using FIFA rankings to determine who gets to play in the Hex. Those rankings are not great and are prone to being manipulated. But, I am not sure what else there is to use.

The difference between finishing inside and outside the Top 6 is profound. Half the Top 6 teams will go. The rest of the teams will be scrambling for a very long shot chance at making it. Imagine being the 7th highest ranked team by a small margin.
 

adam

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Yeah, I saw this. It's interesting. I guess the biggest complaint is using FIFA rankings to determine who gets to play in the Hex. Those rankings are not great and are prone to being manipulated. But, I am not sure what else there is to use.

The difference between finishing inside and outside the Top 6 is profound. Half the Top 6 teams will go. The rest of the teams will be scrambling for a very long shot chance at making it. Imagine being the 7th highest ranked team by a small margin.
The rankings still suck, but are harder to manipulate with all these new confederation leagues popping up, taking the place of friendlies. It may work in the top teams' favor, bc CONCACAF is grouping its league play in tiers. So USA will be playing Mexico, CR, Canada, Jamaica, etc... which are ranked higher (to move up in rankings) than when Curacao is forced to play St Maartin and then it hurts their FIFA rankings.
 
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413Blue

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Would like to see something other than just the ranking determine who makes the hex.
With a late 2022 WC, we should expect the hex to start in the fall of '21 or later. How about using the '21 Gold Cup to determine the hex teams. 4 semifinalists and a playoff between the remaining quarterfinalist to round it out?
Not perfect, but it utilizes a Concacaf competition to give a less arbitrary group selection.
 
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Ulrich

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https://soccer.nbcsports.com/2019/07/10/new-concacaf-world-cup-qualifying-method-is-downright-outrageous/

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2019/07/10/concacaf-announces-changes-world-cup-qualifying-format-2022-cycle

It's complicated, I think is accurate: The Hex is (mostly) not changing, but there will be no group play to qualify for the Hex. Instead, the top 6 FIFA ranked teams will just go into the Hex and the top 3 teams from the Hex get WC spots same as it ever was. Everyone else goes into a minnows tournament that produces one winner. That winner plays H2H in a H/A tie against the 4th Place Hex finisher. The winner of that matchup gets the half-bid and has to play-in against someone from another confederation. In the past that has been Asia I think but I also think that is subject to possible change.

It seems that CONCACAF is trying to keep some of the minnows alive and interested while the Hex is taking place instead of eliminating them all before the Hex. OTOH it makes it harder for bubble teams like T&T to get hot in group play and qualify for the Hex which is a lot better than being in the Minnows competition. And on the gripping hand, if you win the minnows tourney you just need to get lucky and beat the 4th place team to get the half-spot, which is arguably easier than finishing top 4 in the Hex.

Not sure what I think, either in terms of general fairness, what is more interesting, or what's best for the U.S.
Do Friendlies count in the fifa standings? If so, then it’s gonna make the US stop dicking around and sending B squads against top teams just to get experience. Hell, it’ll probably eliminate a bunch of tough friendlies so as not to risk losses.
 

adam

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Do Friendlies count in the fifa standings? If so, then it’s gonna make the US stop dicking around and sending B squads against top teams just to get experience. Hell, it’ll probably eliminate a bunch of tough friendlies so as not to risk losses.
They do and Switzerland was the master of gaming the system. But they supposedly revised it to stop the manipulation.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/3522329/fifa-world-ranking-gets-overhaul-to-stop-manipulation-for-draw-seedings
 

FredMertz

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Sucks to be the 5th or 6th team in the Hex. Like being one of the teams that makes the final 16 in the Champions League and gets immediately eliminated, while teams that got bounced in the group stage get to compete for a champions league slot in the Europa league.
 

Fantazma

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i personally dont think its fair to the other teams ( even though in the hex it tends to be the same 3/4 teams) for example based on Gold cup only one of Canada/Curacao/Haiti/Panama can have a semi chance to make the WC, they all could of given a fight to the US/MEX/CR in a group. On the flip side Honduras and El Salvador disappointed in the gold cup and now they both will be in the Hex.

well see how it pans out
 
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Sabo

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I completely missed that FIFA totally revamped their ranking system (which was complete nonsense) in August of 2018. https://resources.fifa.com/image/upload/fifa-world-ranking-technical-explanation-revision.pdf?cloudid=edbm045h0udbwkqew35a

The new rankings system highly rates Nations League Play and Gold Cup performance -- the US ranking is going to shoot up as a result of making the Gold Cup final. Bottom line is Gold Cup and Nations League performance for 2019-2020 get teams into the hex.

The format would be really unfair if USA and Mexico got knocked out in Gold Cup group stage since the two teams benefitted so much from their place in the old ranking system but with the USA-MEX final I think the new system works well.
 
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SoupInNYC

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So with the new League of Nations, are we going to have those other games that we normally would have had accounted for?

The thing I don't like about this from a USMNT perspective is it appears we are now losing more games for the players to gel, other guys get opportunities, etc. Especially with those earlier qualifying games being against easier competition, that was always a good ground for at least 1-3 guys to prove their place.
 

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mgarbowski

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The flaw with respect to friendlies and ranking was really dumb but also would (I think) have had no effect on this system. Under the old system, they ranked games with a point multiplier and then averaged them equally. So let's say winning Gold Cup is worth 200 points with bonus multipliers. But a friendly is worth only a maximum of 100 points. Now let's simplify and pretend those are the only two games used to measure rankings. That would mean that after winning the GC Mexico would automatically lower its score from 200 to 150 just by playing a friendly, even if it were against Belgium in Belgium and Mexico won 10-0. What Poland and Switzerland did was to play zero friendlies after the WC qualifiers and they rose to top 10 because the actual top 10 teams played friendlies. FIFA changed it so the friendlies don't automatically lower your ranking. They are instead worth less as a percentage multiplier in calculating your score. EG, winning GC might be 10% of your score and a friendly 2% (all numbers made up).

But I'm not sure the effect in the old system was that pronounced at lower levels of the rankings. In other words, a Top 10 team would see it's score go down by playing friendlies because its score is so high. For a team in the CONCACAF bubble zone between making the Hex or not I don't think the effect was so pronounced.

I think the Nations League will make it harder for teams to rise and fall within CONCACAF* because it is structured such that the top third teams play more tournament games against each other instead of against the lower 2/3. There is Pro-Rel at the end of each Nations League tournament which makes not finishing in the bottom of your league vital, but also limits the number of teams who can move up. It's kind of similar to the revised UCL under discussion, which would give a long-term structural advantage to the teams in that are in it from the start, and make it very hard for excluded teams to graduate in. But also, Nations League is an opportunity for the best of CONCACAF to rise in world rankings because it means more tourney games against each other which can help you rise in the rankings, assuming you win or finish high.

* I need to make a CONCACAF keyboard macro.
 

Sabo

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The flaw with respect to friendlies and ranking was really dumb but also would (I think) have had no effect on this system. Under the old system, they ranked games with a point multiplier and then averaged them equally. So let's say winning Gold Cup is worth 200 points with bonus multipliers. But a friendly is worth only a maximum of 100 points. Now let's simplify and pretend those are the only two games used to measure rankings. That would mean that after winning the GC Mexico would automatically lower its score from 200 to 150 just by playing a friendly, even if it were against Belgium in Belgium and Mexico won 10-0. What Poland and Switzerland did was to play zero friendlies after the WC qualifiers and they rose to top 10 because the actual top 10 teams played friendlies. FIFA changed it so the friendlies don't automatically lower your ranking. They are instead worth less as a percentage multiplier in calculating your score. EG, winning GC might be 10% of your score and a friendly 2% (all numbers made up).

But I'm not sure the effect in the old system was that pronounced at lower levels of the rankings. In other words, a Top 10 team would see it's score go down by playing friendlies because its score is so high. For a team in the CONCACAF bubble zone between making the Hex or not I don't think the effect was so pronounced.

I think the Nations League will make it harder for teams to rise and fall within CONCACAF* because it is structured such that the top third teams play more tournament games against each other instead of against the lower 2/3. There is Pro-Rel at the end of each Nations League tournament which makes not finishing in the bottom of your league vital, but also limits the number of teams who can move up. It's kind of similar to the revised UCL under discussion, which would give a long-term structural advantage to the teams in that are in it from the start, and make it very hard for excluded teams to graduate in. But also, Nations League is an opportunity for the best of CONCACAF to rise in world rankings because it means more tourney games against each other which can help you rise in the rankings, assuming you win or finish high.

* I need to make a CONCACAF keyboard macro.
To make it into the hex a nation will have to be one of the 12 countries in Nations League Group A (or a powerhouse who recently dropped to Group B) and then get some results in the group stage -- not a bad way to do it. A miracle Gold Cup run might do it for countries too.

Nations League are meaningful games.
 
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Fantazma

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its pretty much decided who is in the hex. here Mister Chip ( big stats guy, though mostly tweets in spanish) gives the presentation and has his spreadsheet ready to show that panama has to win all the group games (including two wins vs mexico) and that el salvador has to lose some of theirs ( in league B) in order to change the hex. the friendlies can help but the argument is that it wont be as effective. basically the hex is the following.

MEX
US
CR
Jamaica
Honduras
El Salvador

Video: In Spanish