Explaining how USMNT fell seven places to 34th in latest FIFA world rankings

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The latest FIFA world rankings are a bit of a head scratcher.

After marquee friendly away wins away to Germany and the Netherlands, you’d expect the U.S. national team to have shot up the latest rankings, right?

[ MORE: U.S. admits to defense issues ]

Nope, quite the opposite is true. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side have fallen seven places to 34th in the rankings released by world soccer’s governing body on Thursday.

A combination of qualifiers for the European Championships and the 2015 Copa America have something to do with this, as wins earned in meaningful matches mean more than victories the U.S. picked up in friendlies, points wise. However, there is another factor which comes into play here.

These rankings are the first set which have devalued the points gained at the 2014 World Cup as all of the USA’s points gained in 2014 are now worth half their value. Therefore, all three of the CONCACAF teams who made the knockout rounds in Brazil last summer (Costa Rica, Mexico, USA) have fallen drastically. What does “devalue” mean in terms of FIFA’s ranking system?

Well, here is the official word from FIFA’s website as they state that the match average points from the previous year now only stands at 50 percent of its previous value. The points total for the year before that now stands at 30 percent, and the USA’s results from four years ago are only worth 20 percent of their original value. Results longer than four years ago do not count towards the current ranking. Add all that up, and the average score over the past four years equals the current ranking.

Stay with me. Because the U.S. has had no meaningful matches since the World Cup in 2014, like the rest of CONCACAF, their ranking always takes a hit around this time of the four-year World Cup cycle while nations in Europe and South America have their ranking boosted due to continental competitions taking place.

Even though the USMNT are down in 34th, they are now actually the highest-ranked CONCACAF team as Costa Rica slid an incredible 27 places down the rankings to 40th and Mexico are down 17 places to 41st. Small victories. Small victories.

Stepping away from the CONCACAF outrage, we have a new world number one as Argentina sit in first place despite Lionel Messi and Co. losing to Chile on penalty kicks in the Copa America final this summer. Wales have surprisingly moved into 10th place, while England and Romania also move into the top 10 at ninth and eighth respectively.

Below is the new current top 20 of world soccer, as there were incredible movements up and down the rankings.

FIFA men’s world rankings – Top 20

Below is the top 20, as Europe continue to dominate with 31 nations inside the globe’s top 50 teams.

1. Argentina
2. Germany
3. Belgium
4. Colombia
5. Netherlands
6. Brazil
7. Portugal
8. Romania
9. England
10. Wales
11. Chile
12. Spain
13. Uruguay
14. Croatia
15. Slovakia
16. Austria
17. Italy
18. Switzerland
19. Algeria
20. Czech Republic

34. USA