Over the past few days, many soccer fans that have seen the new CONCACAF qualifying format for the 2014 World Cup have cringed at the site of it. This is mainly because it supposedly “kills the rivalry” between Mexico and the United States.
All I have to say is:
The United States most likely will not face Mexico in World Cup qualifying. So does that kill the rivalry then and there? Absolutely not. Does England play France or Germany during World Cup Qualifying? Italy get France? Australia get New Zealand anymore? No. And it doesn’t hurt any of their rivalries. Any time any of those nations play, the rivalry is in full force. There is nothing to worry about. If the United States doesn’t play Mexico during World Cup qualifying, it isn’t like either nation will forget about one another. They both will still be pretty heated when matched together.
Now that the previous rant is out of my system, for those who do not know, this is the new format for CONCACAF’s World Cup Qualifying for 2014.
The first round will be similar to the current first round.
-Home and away format to make the number of nations participating shrink to 32.
-Then, eight groups consisting of four teams each will compete for passage to the next group stage. The top two in each group advance.
-Next, four groups consisting of four teams each will compete for passage to the final group stage. Again, the top two in each group advance.
-Finally, two groups of four will compete for the spots in the World Cup. The top team in each group will advance.
If CONCACAF is awarded four spots for the 2014 World Cup, then the top two will advance. If they have 3.5, then the top two qualify, the second-place teams play-off against one another, with the loser playing the team from CONMEBOL.
That was a bit of a mouthful, but the ending of the Hexagonal is a godsend. Now teams like Canada and Jamaica, that should get more of a fair shot to qualify, will more than likely get that opportunity. Also, minnows such as many of the Caribbean nations need a bit more of an opportunity. It is worth more to me to see someone like St. Lucia get more than a home-and-away drubbing by a larger nation, than for the United States to play Mexico twice. What can I say? I like parity. And to be completely frank, parity will be better for CONCACAF in the long-run. We will get better if we continue to play better competition, and the same is true for others.
This can only be positive for the confederation.