Heading into the 2014 World Cup, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) teams did not receive much credit. With the first round coming to an end later this week, it appears that CONCACAF’s growing power has put an interesting twist on what could happen from here on out in the World Cup.
With Mexico advancing to the knockout round with an impressive win against Croatia, the United States needing only one point to advance, and Costa Rica having a legitimate opportunity to win Group D as long as they can avoid disaster against England today, it appears that CONCACAF stacks right up there with Europe and the South American Confederation. This is not to say that CONCACAF is any better, but it is to say that the three teams mentioned are playing far above what was expected prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup.
Entering the tournament, Costa Rica had 500 to 1 odds to win it all as many predicted they would never make it out of Group D. Mexico had 100 to 1 odds with experts only giving them a slight chance to advance. USMNT had 80 to 1 odds, but no one expected them to make it out of the Group of Death.
Impressive victories across the board, and even Honduras hanging with the best of them, shows that CONCACAF is ready to take the next step in the world rankings.
“Four of us came to this tournament and three of us are moving on to the next round, moving on solidly and they all see us with more respect,” Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said, according to ESPN. “Costa Rica has done a great job; U.S. is also a very solid team. It was unfortunately somehow more difficult for Honduras, but our region should be seen with good eyes.”
It will be interesting to see what Costa Rica can do against England, especially after their impressive victories over Uruguay and Italy. England is merely playing for pride, but Costa Rica has to maintain their edge. The fact that Group D has featured three previous World Cup winners has to give Costa Rica a Cinderella-type confidence that could be the difference maker as the tournament progresses. Meanwhile, Mexico’s confidence has to be soaring after they have already made it to the next round.
USMNT’s unexpected last-minute draw against Portugal has put them in a bind in which they must at least tie Germany on Thursday. It has all the makings of being a great match, especially with the pride of CONCACAF on the line against a European powerhouse.