MLS/WCQ Notes & Updates
|1) Toronto FC had to make several emergency call ups this weekend due to their missing internationals. The whole debate about MLS playing during World Cup qualifying is one with an easy answer; it's just a matter of when the changes will happen, not if. John Carver and Mo Johnston can't expect a change to be made mid-season, which would be unprecedented in MLS history. Also, it would've helped had TFC actually used all their roster spots instead of letting a few go wasted.|
But forget about the debate for a second, because there was a lot of interesting stuff surrounding that TFC versus Chivas match this week. Toronto called up 4 players via the "extreme hardship" rule: defenders Diaz Kambere, Tim Regan, and Rick Titus, plus goalkeeper David Monsalves. The first three started while Monsalves, who himself played a game for the team last year on another emergency loan, only sat the bench. I believe this is the first time since the rosters were expanded to 28 players (in 2005) that an MLS team has had to call up field players. Many goalkeepers have been used, because in order to trigger the loan you must only have one fit keeper which happens a couple times a year in the league. But in order to call up a field player, a team has to have less than 15 fit players for the match and that doesn't really happen with a 28 man roster.
Now there may have been an instance of an emergency loan field player making a team's gameday roster since 2005, but I'm pretty sure the last time one actually took the field was on October 6, 2004. That would be the night where Chris Carrieri returned to MLS for one night to play for the Chicago Fire in a loss to Columbus. That was the game where Edson Buddle hit that great free kick on the road.
The other notable thing involves Rick Titus. He played one season in MLS, for the Rapids in 2002, and was named the team's best defender (albeit for a team that gave up 1.71 goals per game). Still playing for amateur teams, at 39.49 years of age he became the 5th oldest player in MLS history (6th including all competitions). He also became the oldest TFC player, formerly held by Danny Dichio.
2) The 208-to-1: World Cup Eliminations post was updated. 6 more teams bit the dust this weekend. There's 2 more African matches on Wednesday, which could result in more eliminations. Other than that, we'll have to wait for next month to eliminate anyone else. It can be tricky to figure out CAF qualifying due to the 8/12 second place teams advancing, so thanks to JLSA for his work on the elimination scenarios on the Bigsoccer thread.
Only 121 teams remain, and all 32 of the 2006 World Cup teams are still alive. By this time four years ago, China had been ousted by Kuwait. Who will be the first to go this cycle? Trinidad & Tobago could be edged out by Guatemala, but that's unlikely to happen before November. That leaves Africa, where the current round will be done after the next match day in October and none of the five Germany representatives have progressed so far (standings)
Cote d'Ivoire and Tunisia are virtually assured of advancement. Ghana will likely advance with a home win over lowly Lesotho. Even though they're currently in third, any win will see them guaranteed at least second place and their 6 points in the second placed teams table probably will be enough. Angola, meanwhile, are in a much more dire situation. They can do no better than second place with 4 points, which will probably be right near the final spot. Second place should be easy enough to get thanks to Uganda losing to Niger, but they'll have to hope that other results go their way. Togo is also in danger in their 3-team group, although just one win in their final two games would probably be enough (6 points) to make it as a second placed team. But they have a tricky match at Zambia on Wednesday, and they are barred from playing their final game at home due to crowd troubles.
So it looks as if Angola are the most likely to go out. How great would be if both the teams that mess up the competition and make it way too complicated (Angola and South Africa) were to go out before the final round? We can only hope.
It's interesting to see the teams that shocked everyone by debuting in the World Cup finals two years ago in danger of elimination early on (Angola, Togo, Trinidad). Who will make their debut in 2010? There have been at least 3 debuting countries in every World Cup since 1982. Currently, 51 of the 121 teams remaining have never made it (list). CAF gives us the best shot, probably, while at least one of the AFC teams in the third place playoff between the two groups will be a candidate. Over this past weekend, Lithuania impressed by beating Romania away while Venezuela are falling behind. However, it doesn't look like many of the 51 teams have that good of a shot.
3) I enjoyed this post from the HexagonalBlog about hypothetical CONCACAF club coefficients like those used by UEFA.
I also enjoyed this list from The Best Eleven of the top WCQ upsets so far based on FIFA rank.