2014 FIFA World Cup Early Speculation

That difference strikes me as about right.

That does not. Japan is great value here if you’re looking to take a flyer.

I was born in 1981 and I stand by the opinion we were knocked out by the first decent side we played in 1996 too. Holland were awful and only qualified out of our group because Scotland were even worse. Spain were rubbish - years away from their dominance and we still need penalties to sneak by them. Germany were good - we lost.

Technically we didn’t. In fact technically England were unbeaten in Euro 96, the semi final was a draw and Germany were selected to go through by means of a penalty shootout.

To all intents and purposes, we lost. We lost on a penalty shootout. But we still lost - I know this because, in these sorts of tournaments, once you get to the knockout stages, winners advance and losers go home.

My original post says “knocked out by” in any case.

I’m to understand that we recently got our butts handed to us against some lower-ranked Caribbean opponent (Grenada, perhaps?), and that now our chances are a lot worse-- to the point that we might not qualify.

Can you expand on this a bit?

Thanks!

USA lost to Jamaica on September the 7th (but beat them in the return fixture on the 11th).

The loss was a surprise, but USA should still qualify from the looks of it.

For the tournament, I fancy Argentina, near to home and with a team that should be coming into its peak.

England will go to the tournament lauded as the best English team since 1966 but will struggle to get out of their group (a draw against South Korea, a lucky win against Honduras and another draw against Poland), then lose on penalties to eventual winners, Argentina (after having a clear goal disallowed by malfunctioning goal line technology).

They lost to Jamaica in Kingston, but beat them a few days later in Columbus, OH. They are sitting in good shape to advance to the final qualifying round (hexagonal).

CONCACAF (the qualifying group that the USA and Mexico are in) is not the walkover that it once was. The international nature of top level soccer in Europe has made for a lot of opportunity for some of the smaller nations. Jamaica is full of people who can run like the wind, but the Olympic team only has room for a handful of sprinters. Take that speed and develop the footskills and you can make a good living in MLS in the US or get rich in Europe.

Jamaica, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras are all getting better. The Caribbean nations produce world-class sprinters, baseball players, and cricketers, there is no reason they can’t produce great soccer players (and they are starting to.)

Of all the top teams in CONCACAF, everyone except the United States has gotten better over the last decade. The US U-20 team did not qualify for the 2011 World Cup, and the U-23’s didn’t make the Olympics, so the replacement talent level is thin. I would not be surprised if the US fails to qualify for the WC in the coming years. There are some changes being made in youth soccer in player development that were long overdue, but we won’t see the fruits of that for a while.