San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
La Sele

Costa Rica expected to plummet in new FIFA rankings

The shine from Costa Rica’s historic 2014 campaign has now worn off in more official terms, as the latest FIFA rankings for July are expected to see the men’s national football team drop 27 spots.

Multiple outlets, including ESPN and Goal.com, have leaked the latest batch of the ever-controversial rankings, which won’t be officially released until Thursday.

La Sele remains winless in 2015 but hopes to shed off the rust in time for its Gold Cup opener Wednesday against Jamaica. Though the dip in rankings is meteoric, the Ticos have multiple opportunities to regain standing against beatable opponents across the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

Costa Rica’s expected free fall all the way to 41st would put it right behind a Mexico squad that the team drew 2-2 with in a June 27 friendly, according to Alexis Martín-Tamayo of the Spanish soccer daily AS. The ranking would be the lowest of all time for Mexico’s national team, which will also compete in the Gold Cup that starts Tuesday in the United States.

The U.S. team also takes a slide with its CONCACAF rivals despite friendly wins last month over World Cup champ Germany and perennial top-10 Dutch squad. The U.S. is slated to drop seven spots to 34th in the new ranking, but the Gold Cup favorites should find themselves with ample opportunity to regain positioning if they can pull off a second straight CONCACAF title.

FIFA’s rankings often face heavy criticism for the strange, largely unknown formula that the association uses. Friendlies are weighted much lower than actual tournament games or qualifiers, which partially explains the U.S.’s drop even though the team topped elite competition.

Another case in point: Wales jumps to 10th in the newest ranking, leaping over Copa America champion Chile and 2010 World Cup champion Spain, which fall in the two spots behind the Welsh. For Wales, the surprising rise sets a new record for a country that has not qualified for a World Cup since 1958.

And although Argentina just lost the Copa America final to Chile, it overtakes Germany for the top spot in the newest rankings, just one year after the Germans beat La Albiceleste in the World Cup final.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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