One match into the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. soccer team is heading in the wrong direction, falling four spots to 32nd in FIFA's February rankings.
That's the team's lowest spot in four months although it's an improvement from last summer when the U.S. fell as low as 36th in the world, it's worst-ever ranking. The highest the Americans have ranked was fourth, in 2006.
The most recent fall follows a 2-1 U.S. loss to Honduras in the first game of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014. The loss dropped the Americans to the bottom of the six-team qualifying table and left them as the only team in regional qualifying without a point. To earn an automatic berth in Brazil the U.S. must finish in the top three in qualifying, which runs through October.
That scenario leaves the U.S. facing something close to a must-win situation March 22 in Denver, where it plays host to Costa Rica in its second qualifying match. Four days after that game the U.S. heads to Mexico City to play the region's top-ranked team, Mexico.
Mexico is ranked 15th globally by FIFA.
World and European champion Spain again tops the FIFA rankings followed by Germany and Argentina. England has risen to fourth on the strength of this month's win over Brazil. Nine of the top 11 teams are from Europe with only Argentina and No. 6 Colombia coming from outside the continent.