The only people who seem happy with the CONCACAF Olympic women’s soccer qualifying format are the players who have padded their career goal totals against the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
The mismatches are one problem. Here’s another: If either Canada or the USA should slip up in the final group-stage game, they’ll have to play each other for one berth in the Games.
To make matters worse — if Canada loses tonight against Costa Rica, the USA will be in the situation of getting a much better matchup with a loss than with a win. No one thinks the U.S. women would throw a game for any reason, but just putting them in that situation would be a horrible thing to contemplate.
And then you have a meaningless “final” between two teams that have played four games in a week. Can’t wait to see that one.
Those are the problems. Here’s a solution:
1. Have a Caribbean tournament and Central American tournament for unseeded teams, as we have now. Winners advance.
2. Semifinal round: Caribbean winner, Central American winner and the third- and fourth-seeded teams (most likely Mexico and Costa Rica). Single round-robin, top two advance.
3. Final round: Semifinals winners and top two seeds (most likely the USA and Canada). Single round-robin, top two go to the Games.
Certainly fairer than the European system of basing it solely on World Cup performance. It’ll be a strange Olympic tournament without Germany.