Teams jockey for last CONCACAF WCQ spots

By JOSE M. ROMERO

The semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region will be over by this time next week, and the final six teams will be set. But first, there are several key matches in the region over the next week that will determine who makes it to the Hexagonal and who stays home.

While the U.S. Men’s National Team is dealing with a tight race in Group A, the battle for the top two spots in Group C is just as intense. Panama leads the group with nine points and has the most reasonable remaining schedule. They will play host to Honduras on Friday before a trip to Cuba.

Canada and Honduras are on seven points each, with Canada set to play Cuba tonight. Even if they win as expected, they face the daunting task if having to travel to Honduras next week in search of a result. For Honduras, tonight’s match-up against Panama will be vital to keeping their qualifying hopes improving after a disappointing start to the campaign.

Honduras will miss Sporting KC regular Roger Espinoza and goalkeeper Noel Valladares due to ankle sprains. Espinoza will be out two to four weeks and Valladares two or three.

Canada is in dire need of three points against Cuba, and here are some keys to the week for the Canadians. Going to Honduras and picking up three points might be too much for Canada, making the Cuba match critical to its chances of moving on.

Of most importance to Americans, the U.S. needs wins at Antigua & Barbuda and at home against Guatemala, plus a higher goal differential, to ensure it’s place in the final round. Guatemala is in the same situation in Group A, tied on points (7) and goal differential (plus-2) with the USMNT.

Jamaica also has seven points but a lower differential, but wins and an offensive explosion in one match could send the Reggae Boyz through.

In Group B, Costa Rica and El Salvador face off tonight in San Salvador. El Salvador is a point ahead of Costa Rica, and can secure a place in the Hexagonal round with a victory against the ‘Ticos’, but anything short of three points tonight will leave El Salvador in jeopardy. They face Mexico in the group finale, and with Costa Rica all but a lock to secure three points against last-place Guyana in the group finale, El Salvador can’t afford a loss tonight, and even a draw could wind up spelling doom for their chances of qualifying.

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7 Responses to Teams jockey for last CONCACAF WCQ spots

  1. Robert says:

    “Of most importance to Americans, the U.S. needs wins at Antigua & Barbuda and at home against Guatemala, plus a higher goal differential, to ensure it’s place in the final round.”

    Not exactly. Four points (a win and a draw), in any order, will clinch a top-2 finish in the group and advancement to the Hex.

    That said, two wins would be nice and, frankly, should be expected.

  2. THomas says:

    A loss and a draw could get us through if Jamaica wins out. Whats the best result in the Jamaica v Guatamala game? A huge win by one of them I’d imagine since it doesn’t matter if we go through first or second. But I’m not sure what tiebreakers are.

  3. William the Terror says:

    Then there is the nightmare scenario in which Jamaica and Guatemala play to a “gentle men’s draw” tonight and then both win their final games. In that event, we are out.

    • nathan says:

      Sure, but how’s about we just not lose to Guatemala in our final game? I think of nightmare scenarios as those where no matter what you do, you could be screwed. That’s not what this is, we still hold all the necessary cards to ensure qualification.

    • Charles says:

      You really think that Guat. would rather have to beat the US, than Jamaica.

      I hope it hasn’t come to that.

      • William the Terror says:

        Not at all. But I do think we might be incapable of getting a point at home against Guatemala the way we are playing and being coached.

  4. Samuel says:

    In the Guatemala – Jamaica game, I believe our preferred result is a blowout win by Jamaica. That way if we defeat Antigua & Barbuda, we can get in with a narrow loss (although tie or win would be better) against Guatemala. A blowout win by Guatemala would result in a similar scenario except that Jamaica may wind up routing Antigua & Barbuda and nipping the US in case of a loss against Guatemala.

    A tie is the worse result in that it virtually eliminates the chance of advancing with a narrow loss. Guatemala is not going to do a gentlemen draw though. Why would they put themselves in a must win game at USA when beating Jamica allows them to qualify with a tie against USA? Did I mention that we’d be better off not losing to Guatemala?

    In any case, 4 points advances the US no matter what. I don’t know why we keep seeing that two wins are required. Two wins and goal difference? Is someone even paying attention? Even if we lose to A&B (heresy!!), we can get in by beating Guatemala but goal difference may be a factor.