FIFA Rankings: CONCACAF's Best Historically
|Let's get the explanation out of the way first. The FIFA rankings were first published in August 1993. Since then, there have been 146 editions. Early on, they were only published 10 times per year. However, since the 1998 World Cup, the only time they are not published is during the month the World Cup is taking place (June 2006, for example). So what I have done in the lists below is to count the 12 months before a list was not published twice, for a total of 158 months in the rankings. That's what the "extra" column means below.|
I should note that for the vast majority of the rankings (until the last couple years), there doesn't appear to be ties between teams equal on points. I wonder if on FIFA's site, they didn't break ties and just listed them in alphabetical order (or some other way)? Figuring that out would require looking through each month's ranking carefully, which is too much work for now.
Also, several teams are missing from the rankings on certain months and I don't know why: Bahamas (12/1993-2/1999) Cuba (2/1995-6/1995), and Dominica (9/1995).
So who has been the number one team in CONCACAF since August 1993? No prizes for guessing:
Twice they were tied, which explains the two extra months. The USA first was ranked #1 in the region in June 2003. Until 2006, that was the only month anyone in the region had outranked Mexico. The two teams have basically split 2006, although Mexico is ahead now.
Both teams have dominated CONCACAF over the years. In fact, in the 13 years since 1993, they have held the top two spots every month. The closest any team got was in September 2001 and January 2002, when Honduras was ranked only one place below the USA.
With the dominance of the top two, it will be interesting to see which teams have held the #3 spot:
Costa Rica is the best of the rest. However, almost all of their time in the third position has occured since the 2002 World Cup. Jamaica benefited from their 1998 qualification. Canada's lone month was in March 1994.
Let's now check out the top five and top ten in CONCACAF:
Honduras is third here. They have always been good, without ever doing enough to qualify. Seems surprising that Guatemala has barely cracked the list here. Their three months are the three most recent rankings. So, only eight teams have cracked the top five in 13 years. That just goes to show you how top heavy the region really is.
Here's where things get a little more open. There's 18 teams on this list, which means that over half of the region's 35 teams have cracked the top ten at one point. A full 60% of the top ten (6 teams) has never left since the first ranking. Canada was 11th in December 2001/January 2002 or there would be one more.
It's strange seeing Cuba so high up. They've been in the top ten 84% (133/158) of the time, and every month since late 1995. Never in the top five though. Currently they are sixth; they had some good results qualifying for the 2005 Gold Cup, in the Caribbean Cup.
El Salvador and Guatemala have never been constantly strong, but I would've expected them to be higher. After all, they seem good enough to always be in the region's top ten, right? Another Central American team, Panama, is experiencing their first run in the top ten since July 2005.
Bermuda actually made it to the final eight of World Cup qualifying in 1994, including a win over El Salvador in the process. Feed the goat! Along with Surinam they were in the top ten early on in the ranking's history. As for St. Vincent, they finished second in the 1995 Caribbean Cup and qualified for the Gold Cup as a result. From late 1995 to early 1997 they were in the top ten.
St. Lucia was ranked #10 in the reigion in July 1995. The only thing that appears to have caused that is a 2-1 win over Barbados in the Caribbean Cup. Barbados' four months were around this time as well, so perhaps that explains it. Flash forward to today, and actually they (St. Lucia) are now a perplexing 11th.
Puerto Rico's inclusion is shocking. They haven't won a game since 1994. Only in the first eight months of the ranking were they in the top ten. They did some decent wins in 1993/1994. That appears to be the time when Chris Armas played for them. If you don't know, he played five times for them and almost couldn't play for the USA because of that. Was it all Armas, or did they have other decent players?