CONCACAF Power Rankings: Who is the region's top side?

Javier Hernandez

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

We here at the Power Rankings Politiburo have a taken a break from the world of MLS, and we're spending the next week looking at the pecking order in CONCACAF. With the first round of World Cup qualifiers looming on Friday, we decided to take a vote and see who came out on top in region as the games get serious. Have an issue with our rankings? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Rank Club Comment

1

Mexico

For decades, Mexico have been known as a team of crafty midfielders, mercurial strikers and questionable defenders. That's not the case any longer, as it's El Tri's defense that has been opening eyes for the past several years. Add in a still-potent attack, and they're the clear No. 1 in the region.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 20
  • 2010 Finish: Reached World Cup Round of 16
  • Key Players: Javier "Chicharito" Hernández; Andrés Guardado; Héctor Moreno
  • First Game: Friday vs. Guyana

2


United States

There's no hiding the fact that there's no hiding for Tim Howard. The US netminder has had to come up huge game after game regardless of the opponent, and when he doesn't, you get "Brazil 4, USA 1." Luckily, the Yanks won't be facing Brazil in any of these games, but the US form leaves quite a bit to be desired.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 29
  • 2010 Finish: Reached World Cup Round of 16
  • Key Players: Clint Dempsey; Michael Bradley; Tim Howard
  • First Game: Friday vs. Anitgua & Barbuda

3

Panama

A decade ago, Panama was known as a baseball country, with the Dely Valdés brothers their only claim to soccer fame. Now they're solidly in the World Cup qualifying mix every cycle, but have yet to break through. For the trio of Felipe Baloy, Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada, this is last chance cafe – and they're good enough to get it done.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 52
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in second round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Felipe Baloy; Blas Pérez; Luis Tejada
  • First Game: Friday at Honduras

4

Honduras

There's some understandable concern about how Los Catrachos will adjust in the post-Guevara/Pavón/Turcios era, but the defense is still solid and the midfield is stacked. They have the tools to win games 1-0, but the big worry is what's going to happen up top. Both David Suazo and Carlo Costly are out of contract and real unknowns at this point.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 62
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in group stage of World Cup
  • Key Players: Víctor Bernárdez; Wilson Palacios; Carlo Costly
  • First Game: Friday vs. Panama

5


Canada

With Andre Hainault and Kevin McKenna looking like the real deal in central defense and the midfield loaded with quality players, the only real question for the Canucks is whether or not they can score. Olivier Occean and Simeon Jackson have both done it at club level, but struggled in red. So it could come down to Dwayne De Rosario being the savior.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 75
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in third round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Dwayne De Rosario; Olivier Occean; Andre Hainault
  • First Game: Friday at Cuba

6


Costa Rica

Los Ticos are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, and have real questions in central defense, where two-time MLS washout Michael Umaña is the brightest light. They could make up for it in attack, though, with Celso Borges providing service to a front line of RSL's Álvaro Saborío and Arsenal starlet Joel Campbell.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 59
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in World Cup play-in series
  • Key Players: Joel Campbell; Celso Borges; Michael Umaña
  • First Game: Friday at El Salvador

7


Jamaica

The Reggae Boyz have always had speed to burn, and that always serves them well against the minnows. But they struggle against the better teams in CONCACAF and always have. They need Ryan Johnson to make good on his talent and become the target, hold-up forward who can use his physicality to get goals.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 51
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in third round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Ryan Johnson; Dane Richards; Damion Stewart
  • First Game: Friday vs. Guatemala

8


Guatemala

Nobody in CONCACAF has mastered the darker arts quite like Los Chapines. With the exception of Chicago's Marco Pappa and the aging Carlos Ruiz, there aren't any real standout talents on this side. Add in the current match-fixing scandal, and they look like easy meat. But looks can be deceiving, especially against a desperate opponent.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 83
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in third round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Marco Pappa; Carlos Ruiz; Jairo Arreola
  • First Game: Friday at Jamaica

9


El Salvador
 

El Salvador's only hope against the stronger CONCACAF sides is to keep the game in the midfield. They did a nice job of that in Olympic qualifying – particularly against the US – and guys like Eliseo Quintanilla and Jaime Alas will have to be huge game-in and game-out for them to make the Hexagonal.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 49
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in final round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Eliseo Quintanilla; Dennis Alas; Jaime Alas
  • First Game: Friday at Costa Rica

10


Cuba

The Cuban team is always a mystery, but the performance of Osvaldo Alonso in MLS the past three years is a pretty stunning reminder of the athletic talent on that island. We've seen Jaime Colomé and Roberto Linares for years, and know they can be dangerous, but can holding midfielder Carlos Francisco protect the always-rickety defense?

  • FIFA World Ranking: 136
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in third round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Carlos Francisco; Jaime Colomé; Roberto Linares
  • First Game: Friday vs. Canada

11


Guyana

We're not going to pretend to be experts on the Guyanese national team, but we're pretty familiar with Gregory Richardson and Chris Nurse, who've been fixtures in the second- and third-tier US leagues for a while now. Both play fearless attacking soccer, which we suspect will be the entire team's disposition. Better to burn out than fade away.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 99
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in second round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Gregory Richardson; Chris Nurse; Shawn Beveney
  • First Game: Friday at Mexico

12

Antigua and Barbuda

How the Benna Boys fare will be a direct reflection upon the Antigua Barracudas of the USL Pro (third division) league, as the vast majority of their national team plies their trade there. It's a great idea, since lack of familiarity is always a cross to bear for lower-ranked national teams. We suspect they can make up some of their talent gap via teamwork.

  • FIFA World Ranking: 100
  • 2010 Finish: Eliminated in second round of qualifying
  • Key Players: Peter Byers; George Dublin; Quinton Griffith
  • First Game: Friday at United States