DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Last month's 2-0 win against Guatemala in the final game of the third round of World Cup qualifying in Colorado was enough to give the US a slight push in the year's final FIFA World Rankings released Wednesday.
After falling slightly in the previous ranking following a qualifying loss to Trinidad & Tobago, the victory over #109 Guatemala reversed the trend and assured that Bob Bradley's men retained the top spot amongst teams from the CONCACAF region.
The Red White & Blue will next face 32nd ranked Sweden in a friendly game on Jan. 24th in Carson California to kick off 2009 before the final hexagonal round of World Cup 2010 qualifying gets underway.
Neighbors Mexico slipped a single spot to #26 thanks to their loss to Ecuador in a friendly game, but are the second highest CONCACAF team. They will be looking forward to their trip to Columbus, Ohio on Feb. 11 when they face the US in the first game of the hexagonal phase of qualifying.
Rounding out CONCACAF teams, Honduras continued making headway in the rankings after a strong third round of qualifying to pull to 40th spot, while Costa Rica has ridden their seven-game undefeated streak in qualifying to climb from 79th over the summer to their current 53rd.
Up at the top, Spain and Germany still occupy first and second, respectively, while the Netherlands and Italy switched places for third and fourth. CONMEBOL rivals Brazil and Argentina follow closely behind.