New World back to business
The CONCACAF Zone (North, Central America and the Caribbean) suffered a disappointing 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. Honduras were sent home after a disappointing group phase while Mexico and USA were both put out of the competition in the Round of 16.
The Americans, Mexico and Costa Rica have already been in action at the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup Germany 2010 and the new FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking was published on Wednesday, with some encouraging progress being made by a clutch of CONCACAF teams. With MLS in full swing and the CONCACAF Champions League and the 2010 Caribbean Cup in progress, there’s no rest for the footballers or their fans in the New World.
A new cycle begins
USA began their FIFA World Cup in South Africa looking likely to make a run deep into the competition. After draws with England and Slovenia in the group stage, they defeated Algeria to set up a last 16 clash with Ghana. Unable to handle the Africans’ panache, speed and power, the Americans suffered an extra-time defeat. Their regional rivals Mexico climbed only as far as the Stars and Stripes, losing to Argentina 3-1 after drawing with South Africa, losing to Uruguay and beating France in the group stages. Honduras, for their part, struggled in their first finals since 1982, picking up just one point from two defeats and a draw with Switzerland. The Catrachos also failed to score a single goal in 270 minutes of football on African soil.
The Americans moved up one place in the latest installment of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking to 13th while Mexico, who saw coach Javier Aguirre step down after the finals, dropped seven places to 24th. Honduras dropped eight places to find themselves in 46th, one behind Burkina Faso.
The biggest move on the club scene in North, Central America and the Caribbean sees French footballing icon Thierry Henry move to Major League Soccer and Red Bull New York. France and Arsenal’s all-time top scorer insists the move is not just a holiday excursion or a place to retire. “Some people might think I am going to go there [to New York] for vacation - I do actually go there for vacation - but not this time," added the 32-year-old striker, who was a bit-part player for Barcelona last season and for France at South Africa 2010. "I'm a competitor, and I don't like to lose."
In other major transfer news, Mexico’s 22-year-old ace Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez will line up for Manchester United in the upcoming English Premier League season. Signed from Chivas Guadalajara, the youngster managed two goals in Mexico’s four games in South Africa and might well get his chance early at Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson running the rule over an aging team.
Back to club business
Major League Soccer in the United States continued on while the South African finals dominated the world’s attention. LA Galaxy, led by USA starlet and South Africa 2010 standout Landon Donovan, are out in front in the League’s Western Conference, with the only realistic pursuit coming from Real Salt Lake. Out in the East, 2008 champions Columbus Crew are bossing things, with the side from New York giving steady chase and likely to be boosted by Henry's arrival. Mexico’s Clausura is gearing up for action, too, with hostilities kicking off next week.
Flying the flag overseas
On the international front, CONCACAF’s three participants began their campaigns at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany with a mixed bag of results. Holders USA were lucky to escape with a draw against Ghana while Mexico drew 3-3 in a goal-fest with Japan and Costa Rica were defeated 4-2 by the hosts. Elsewhere on the women’s side of things, the final field for the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup is set with eight teams participating. The competition is part of the qualifying process for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
The preliminary phases of the 2010 Caribbean Cup are already underway with an eye to the biannual CONCACAF Gold Cup coming up next year. In international club competition in the zone the CONCACAF Champions League is off and running in its early phases, with the winner eventually lining up for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in UAE.