Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gold Cup groups announced

The Gold Cup groups were announced today. Unlike the other confederations which all, I assume, organize teams based on a seeded random draw, groups for the Gold Cup are 'created'. Normally, I would get all in a huff because by all appearances, it often seems that Canada gets the short end of the stick.

I don't want to do that any longer. Here are the groups, with FIFA ranking data.

Team Rank Region Points
Group A
Costa Rica 32 3 725
Jamaica 70 6 476
Canada 94 8 375
El Salvador 106 10 329
Average 75.5 6.75 476.25

Group B
USA 17 1 896
Honduras 40 4 674
Haiti 117 12 293
Grenada 122 14 280
Average 74 7.75 535.75

Group C
Mexico 23 2 784
Panama 51 5 577
Guadeloupe** 118 13 292
Nicaragua 140 19 195
Average 83 9.75 462

** Guadeloupe isn't ranked by FIFA, so I made the assumption that they are roughly equal in quality to Bermuda. Which, I feel, is being generous to Bermuda.

A few posters on the Voyageurs forums were complaining that, once again, Canada appears to have been drawn into the Group of Death. Such claims, though, really depend on Canada being considered a top 5 or 6 team in CONCACAF. With the recent World Cup disqualifying results, I no longer feel justified making that case.

A quick glance at the numbers above suggests that the American group is numerically tougher. However, in that group, as in the Mexico group, there is a significant drop-off between the top two and the bottom two teams.

Canada's group promises a full slate of interesting and competitive matches. If they qualify from that group, they will be worthy quarterfinalists. If they fail, they will be able to claim to be no better than the 7th or 8th best team in CONCACAF.

I'm OK with that.

Where Canada may be getting screwed is the travel arrangements. Quickly, here's how it plays out:
  • Group A: Los Angeles -> Columbus -> Miami: 5464 km
  • Group B: Seattle -> Washington -> Boston: 5158 km
  • Group C: San Francisco -> Houston -> Phoenix: 4993 km
The overall numbers aren't that far apart, but teams in the other groups at least have the benefit of one shorter trip.

If you're wondering, Canada's all time record against their Group A opponents:

Opponent Wins Draws Losses
Costa Rica 4 4 7
Jamaica 6 6 3
El Salvador 6 2 4
Total 16 12 14

Again, it looks pretty balanced. By the way, Canada and El Salvador haven't played since 1999.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I honestly expect Canada to qualify from Group A. I am very much looking forward to this tournament.


peter_tfc said...

FIFA rankings suck. Try elo ratings, they're way more accurate and less subjective.

J said...

I used to be all over the FIFA/ELO debate. FIFA does have some issues, mainly with the way they factor in really old results. ELO is better, but the site was down when I was collecting my data.

If you're a bit of a rankings nerd like I am, you might be interested in these numbers as well.

peter_tfc said...

Thanks J.