USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

US national team drop in latest FIFA rankings, Costa Rica, Mexico climb


In the latest set of FIFA World rankings the U.S. national team have slipped three places down to 18th and are no longer the highest ranked team in the CONCACAF region.

That’s because World Cup surprise package Costa Rica are heading in the opposite direction, as Los Ticos have climbed one place to 15th.

To complete the CONCACAF merry-go-round, Mexico have climbed one place to 17th as all three CONCACAF sides who reached the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup are in FIFA’s top 20 in the latest batch of rankings. However the USA are now the lowest ranked of all three before their next batch of friendlies begin in September, October and November this year.

[RELATED: U.S. to play Ireland in Dublin]

Despite not playing any games in the last month since the World Cup ended, the U.S. have fallen due to the points system FIFA employ to calculate the rankings. World soccer’s governing body take into account the changing values of previous results in the four-year cycle of matches. Hence why CONCACAF teams have chopped and changed without playing a game.

Overall Germany remain in top spot after clinching the World Cup in Brazil this summer and after them a strong South American presence, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil are all in the top 10, means CONMEBOL has now overtaken UEFA as the highest ranked federation in world soccer. That is the first time South America has been deemed stronger than Europe since the rankings began.

Below is the full top 20 in full, as teams likes Portugal, Italy, Croatia and England all hang in there despite not making it out of their groups at the World Cup this summer.

FIFA World rankings, top 20

1. Germany
2. Argentina
3. Netherlands
4. Colombia
5. Belgium
6. Uruguay
7. Spain
7. Brazil
9. Switzerland
10. France
11. Portugal
12. Chile
13. Greece
14. Italy
15. Costa Rica
16. Croatia
17. Mexico
18. USA
19. Bosnia and Herzegovina
20. England

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.