Following the USA’s embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, many supporters started discussing the idea of an “alternate” World Cup with some of the eliminated teams, including the US. After other quality sides like Italy, Chile, and Cameroon also failed to qualify, the idea of a “shadow” World Cup began to grow in popularity.

Hell, US Soccer is even reportedly looking into the possibility of bringing the eliminated teams stateside next summer for a tournament, though the possibility has been described as “a longshot”.

What would a tournament field look like? Let’s brainstorm, with seedings based on October’s FIFA rankings.

  1. Chile
  2. Peru (if they fail to beat New Zealand on Wednesday)
  3. Wales
  4. Italy
  5. Netherlands
  6. Northern Ireland
  7. Slovakia
  8. Ireland
  9. USA
  10. Scotland
  11. Ukraine
  12. Turkey
  13. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  14. Paraguay
  15. Bulgaria
  16. Austria
  17. Bosnia and Herzegovina  (if Peru beats New Zealand on Wednesday)

Holy crap, that’s a pretty damn solid looking tournament, and it doesn’t even include reigning African champions Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Ghana, or the Ivory Coast.

But let’s be honest here – there’s not going to be an NIT World Cup next summer. FIFA probably wouldn’t be too pleased with US Soccer attempting to undermine their crown jewel tournament. Fox Sports wouldn’t be that thrilled over the prospect of ponying up more cash for another soccer tournament, right around the World Cup.

What I could see happening is a series of pre-tournament friendlies in the US involving some of those unqualified teams and some of the qualified CONCACAF and CONMEBOL teams. It would make sense for some of those sides to keep their skills sharp leading into the World Cup against strong teams, and would also minimize the travel of those qualified teams before they head to Russia.

I do think my favorite part of the US trying to organize all of these non-tournament matches is that the US is barely one of the ten best teams to not qualify for Russia 2018. Let’s be honest, here – the USMNT isn’t Chile, Italy, or the Netherlands. But hey, US Soccer apparently has money to throw around, so why not at least entertain some people in the process?

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.