CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Final Hexagonal spots up for grabs

Photo by Jose L. Argueta/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Five of the six spots in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying remain up for grabs, and that should make for an intense final match-day as teams attempt to avoid falling out of the picture for Brazil 2014.

While most American soccer fans will be too busy seeing how the U.S. Men’s National Team does against Guatemala in Kansas City on Tuesday, arguably the most intriguing match-up will take place in San Pedro Sula, where Honduras hosts Canada in what is essentially a winner-takes-all match in Group C.

Panama is all but sure to take first place in the group, and lock up a berth to the final round of qualifying, against already-eliminated Cuba. Honduras will be in desperate need for a win in order to avert disaster. No other result will see Los Catrachos advance, and while they will have homefield advantage, they are also facing an opponent that can advance with a draw. The Canucks are keen on getting a result on the road in order to reach the Hexagonal for the first time since the 1998 World Cup cycle.

Without key attackers Dwayne De Rosario (injured) and Oliver Occean (suspended), the Canadians will need to be sturdy defensively against the likes of Carlo Costly and Oscar Boniek Garcia in order to at least get a draw. That starts at the back with goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld all the way through to the likely forward tandem of Simeon Jackson and Tosaint Ricketts.

As for Honduras, they will need to push from the opening whistle as Canada is likely to absorb pressure. That kind of game may be well-suited for the hosts, but it also means that being clinical in front of goal will go a long way in determining their fate.

Here is a closer look at the rest of action on the final match-day of the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying:

JAMAICA-ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

Jamaica knows it needs to do one thing and then hope for some help, and that one thing is win big.

The Reggae Boyz host Antigua & Barbuda in the other Group A match and with the latter already out of contention from advancing, the game at Independence Park could be wide open. If that is the case, Jamaica will need to hope that Ryan Johnson, Luton Shelton and Dane Richards can create and finish plenty of chances against an Antigua team that held them scoreless in their previous meeting.

Even doing that is not good enough to secure advancement for the Jamaicans, as a draw between the U.S. and Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park would see those two teams move on and eliminate the Reggae Boyz.

MEXICO-EL SALVADOR

El Salvador could not have picked a worse opponent to have a must-win game against.

Needing three points to even have a shot at reaching the Hexagonal, El Salvador has to play a Mexico team that is aiming to finish the semifinal round with a perfect 6-0 record. Making matters worse for La Selecta is that the match will be played in Mexico, where El Tri are notoriously tough to crack. For the underdogs to come out on top in the Group B clash, they will need to hold Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez in check and have big performances from goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo, captain Dennis Alas and Rodolfo Zelaya.

COSTA RICA-GUYANA

All of El Salvador’s best efforts can still go for naught, however, so long as Costa Rica gets at least a tie with Guyana, which is already eliminated. Los Ticos crushed Guyana, 4-0, in their first meeting thanks to an Alvaro Saborio hat-trick and that could well be the case again in this Group B encounter at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose.

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What do you think of these matches? Who do you see reaching the Hexagonal? See Canada getting a point in San Pedro Sula?

Share your thoughts below.

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17 Responses to CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Final Hexagonal spots up for grabs

  1. Beto says:

    If Canada can hold off Honduras that will be a huge accomplishment for them. My money is on Honduras, but im rooting for Canada.

  2. 2tone says:

    I think Canada holds on for a tie. El Salvador loses, and U.S. beats Guate 2-0 with Jamiaca beating Antigua 3-0 to slip by Guate into the Hex.

    This is my Hex
    Mexico
    U.S.
    Canada
    Costa Rica
    Jamiaca
    Panama

    Pretty difficult Hex.

    • Sergio says:

      Jamaica would need to win by 4 goals in order to pass Guatemala, even if Guatemala loses. Guatemala is at +3 goal differential, and Jamaica is at 0. So winning by 3 would tie them with Guatemala on differential, but Guatemala has scored more goals.

      • Evan says:

        You are forgetting that Guatemala is losing in your scenario. So, that loss will decrease their +3 differential. It’s why we have to worry about losing. Puts us in extreme danger.

  3. NC Jeff says:

    I’m guessing it’ll be Mexico and CR in their group … Panama claiming their group with Canada in 2nd … and USA with Jamaica in their group. That said, it’ll be VERY exciting whatever happens:

    1) Does Hond. get a home win over Canada?
    2a) Does Guat. draw the USA and eliminate Jam. regardless of what the Reggae Boyz do vs. A&B?
    2b) Does USA take a home win and open the door for Jam., and if so, do they take advantage?
    2c) Does Guat. upset the USA, and if so, does Jam. take advantage?

  4. Dan M says:

    Love to see Canada go through, but I like Honduras too. Shame one them couldn’t have been in a different group. Both can represent Concacaf well. USA has no excuses. It will not be acceptable for them to draw or win by just one goal. If that happens, they have no business getting out of Hexagonal because they are underperforming in a sea of minnows.

    • huh?? says:

      So you are saying that if USA wins 1-0 and wins our group, that it is ashame we are moving on because we have no business in the hexagonal (despite wins in Italy and Mexico in the last year albeit they were outside of qualifying) and in the same post state that Honduras and Canada both would represent Concacaf better…however if the USA manages to win this game 2-0 they are now somehow a superior team that deserves advancement?? You really need to look at the big picture…I’m not gonna defend everything Klinsmann has done…like bringing in 5 or so players that all are out and not replacing any of them on the roster and leaving us devoid of alternative forward options like altidore and boyd (who i think is a beast and our future #1 attacker and needs to be given another couple starts) when we could be in a must win scenario and need a different front line attack. That being said we’ve gotten results overall and if you thought that Klinsmann 1 year into the job would have the team playing at some superior level to what Bob Bradley had but with the same pool of players, you are slightly to completely diluted.

      Who is looking for us to peak now?? Klinsmann is doing the right thing in keeping the ship moving forward but with the eye on the best days being ahead of us…

      This is all assuming we don’t blow it tonight and end up losing the group some how in which case I don’t see Klinsmann getting a chance to see the end of the year as our head coach…

  5. mikeandike says:

    I don’t see how Canada advances- they seem to be the Charlie Brown of CONCACAF…

  6. THomas says:

    What are the tie-breakers? Is it overall goal difference, is it head to head aggregate like in Europe? I can’t seem to find the info, even on Concacaf’s website which isn’t surprising.

    • ... says:

      First tie-breaker is overall goal difference, followed by overall goals scored.

    • cc says:

      aggregate only works for champions league….european qualifying is still points, overall goal differential and so on…just like around the world…

  7. Kevin says:

    If U.S. and Guatemala tie, who gets top seed? Their stats are identical and would remain so with a tie. Or, is there no top seed to get in these qualifiers?

    • ... says:

      No top seed. The top 2 from each group go into the Hex, which is round-robin home-and-home. Which teams finish 1st and which finish 2nd doesn’t matter at all.

      • wfrw07 says:

        This is correct, but for show purposes, first would depend on the score of the draw. 0-0 we would be first, 2-2 or more would mean Guatemala is first, and 1-1 Is the result there would be no difference. If the two tied for second with that result (in a hypothetical world) they would have had to play a playoff game since every tiebreaker would have been tied.

  8. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    I hope El Salvador advances.

  9. John says:

    Can somebody give me the scenario that would eliminate the USA from the hex, i.e. USA loses, Jamaica wins and USA is out on goal difference with both Guatemala and Jamaica advancing?

  10. John says:

    Forget about the above comment. I figured it out: Jamaica wins, USA loses and Jamaica overcomes a three goal differential.