Despite not playing any matches since the World Cup — few countries have — Costa Rica saw its ranking rise one place to 15th in the latest FIFA poll.
The World Cup quarterfinalist Ticos are now the highest-ranked squad from the North and Central American region (CONCACAF). The United States, the lone CONCACAF team previously ahead of Costa Rica, fell three spots to 18th.
World Cup champions Germany remains atop the poll released Thursday. The only change in the top 10 saw Spain move up one spot in a tie with Brazil for seventh.
In post-World Cup rankings unveiled last month, Costa Rica jumped from 28th to 16th. The leap into the top 20 marked the country’s highest-ever FIFA ranking since the polls began in 1993. This is also the first time neither Mexico or United States is the top positioned team in CONCACAF. FIFA’s strange formula takes the past four years of play into account, hence the changes in rankings in spite of the lack of international matches since the World Cup.
Mexico also surpassed the U.S., climbing from 18th to 17th. Panama, the fourth-ranked team in CONCACAF last month, plummeted 30 spots to 63rd. Honduras is back in fourth, despite dropping three places to 43rd.
Costa Rica, Mexico, the United States and Honduras were the four teams from CONCACAF to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Ticos reached the quarterfinals for the first time, losing to the Netherlands on penalty kicks. Mexico and the United States bowed out in the Last-16. Honduras lost all three of its group stage matches and exited Brazil without a point.
The three countries Costa Rica beat on the way to the quarterfinals — Uruguay, Italy and Greece — all rank ahead of La Sele. Costa Rica will participate in the Central America Cup in September. La Sele will play Panama and 175th place Nicaragua (the worst team in CONCACAF) in the Ticos’ first international matches since the World Cup.
FIFA top 20 (Released August 14):
7. (tie) Spain (+1)
7. (tie) Brazil
15. Costa Rica* (+1)
16. Croatia (+1)
17. Mexico* (+1)
18. United States* (-3)
19. Bosnia and Herzagovina
* = CONCACAF member