CONCACAF Qualifying Preview: Honduras look to improve Hex position, Costa Rica wary of Jamaican challenge

CarloCostlyHonduras1-MexicoHex2013 (AFP)

By DAN KARELL

If all goes well on Tuesday evening for Honduras, Los Catrachos could be ever closer to qualifying for their second consecutive World Cup, a historic first for the Central American country.

After sealing an equally historic victory against Mexico in Azteca Stadium on Friday night, Luis Fernando Suarez’s side now return home to face Panama, who could only manage a scoreless draw against Jamaica, despite playing with a man advantage for 32 minutes. A Honduras win coupled with a Mexico loss would put five points between the two nations in third and fourth place, respectively, in the Hexagonal.

Costa Rica meanwhile travel to face the very Jamaicans who secured a confidence-building road point, and the Ticos will have to be careful. Despite the emotion-filled 3-1 victory against the United States on Friday, Costa Rica lost starters Michael Umaña, Christian Bolaños, and goalkeeper Keilor Navas, due to yellow card accumulation.

Honduras, as they showed in Mexico City, have a fit and talented squad available, with even Jerry Bengtson putting in a good performance despite not making the lineup for the New England Revolution. As he has throughout all of the qualifying process, forward Carlo Costly has proven himself to be one of the best target forwards in the region, scoring five goals in ten matches, and bagging himself the game winner against Mexico.

The battle between Costly and Panamanian defender Felipe Baloy will certainly be one to keep an eye on, as brute strength battles it’s mirror image. We may see a similar confrontation at the other end of the field where Panama’s Blas Perez will set up. The FC Dallas forward was out of the lineup for the Canaleros’ draw with Jamaica, but he’s returned to fitness and will be counted on to bring home a huge result on the road.

For Jamaica, former Cameroon head coach and Borussia Mönchengladbach standout Wilfried Schaefer has taken control of the team this summer and will make his home debut when the Reggae Boyz take the field against Costa Rica.

The hosts will be without star goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts due to yellow card accumulation, as well as Rudolph Austin, who picked up a red card in the last match. In addition, right back Alvas Powell limped off towards the end of the first half with an ankle injury, and it’s unknown whether he will feature.

Both Honduras and first-placed Costa Rica will also have to be on guard. Their next obstacles, against the fifth-placed Panama and sixth-placed Jamaica, respectively, could easily be defined as trap games. And as Panama showed during the Gold Cup and Jamaica showed last fall in Kingston against the U.S. Men’s National Team, neither one can truly be taken lightly.

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Who do you see winning these CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers? Do you see Honduras defeating Panama? Do you see yellow card suspensions hurting Costa Rica’s chances in Jamaica?

Share your thoughts below.

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26 Responses to CONCACAF Qualifying Preview: Honduras look to improve Hex position, Costa Rica wary of Jamaican challenge

  1. PD says:

    I wish Honduras well, but I’m hoping for a Panama result tonite, the more competitive the conference can become, the better is is for all teams.

  2. AcidBurn says:

    So if the home teams hold serve, you have:

    US – 16
    CR – 14
    HN – 13
    Mex – 8
    Pan – 7
    Jam – 6

    Basically you have US qualified, CR and HN with one foot in the door, and a 3-way race for the repechaje. Sign me up for that.

    • MN Footie says:

      Repechaje, eh? I had not heard that one before.

      /adds to repertoire

    • John says:

      I agree with this 100%. US may lose to Mexico tonight to have CR finish on top of the group.

    • Joamiq says:

      I’d love for Jamaica to win, but tough for me to see it happening. Also, I want a draw in Honduras-Panama – that way the US qualifies with a win against Mexico, and Mexico is in serious danger of missing the playoff. Panama can play for a draw at Azteca, which all of a sudden hasn’t been difficult, and then we go to Panama for the last game, when we will likely not be playing our A team. A Panama win there (especially by more than one goal) would make it extremely difficult for Mexico to finish 4th.

  3. Pingback: CONCACAF Qualifying Preview: Honduras look to improve Hex position, Costa Rica wary of Jamaican challenge | halftimesoccer.com

  4. SoundersOff says:

    Sorry, hard to get excited.

    Integrity of the federation is below my acceptable threshold right now.

  5. Pepe says:

    It’s really amazing how good Costly is for Honduras, and how bad he is for his clubs. He had a few good moments when he played for Houston, but overall he just looked like he didn’t care. It seems like that’s been the story throughout his career.

  6. SilverRey says:

    I don’t like the yellow card policy they are using this time around. It’s coming down to crunch time and so many important players are being taken out by this. These are the games that you want to see the best against the best!

    • Jake says:

      They should have wiped the yellow cards at the end of the previous round. Also, they should realize that with CONCACAF refs, some crazy yellows can happen.

    • Dave says:

      “Best vs best” goes to “the team that cheats the most wins” if there is no punishment for yellow cards.

      If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

  7. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    We need a cool nickname for the US like Los Catrachos.

    USMNT is little boring.

    • Paul Miller says:

      How about “the athletically average white guys whose parents 10 years ago could afford travel soccer, with a few offspring of overseas military thrown in”?

      • FGB says:

        This wouldn’t be funny, even if it were accurate.

        Which it isn’t.

        • Paul Miller says:

          It’s a little funny. And a little accurate, too. But, granted, I was just being a smart @ss.

        • ed - houston says:

          I thought it was hilarious but too long. I like “yanks” but many folks here in the “south” are still fighting the civil war. Not me, as a historian, i realized the the best “team” won.

    • Mr_A says:

      We could copy the Aussies and N Zealanders, and call them the All Stripes.

      What’s wrong with the Yanks? Or we could man up and own the Gringos moniker. Or just the Americans. (Yes, I know “America” can be ambiguous, since it also is the name of two continents, but in the context of teams it makes sense. And people that get offended over sharing the name of an Italian mapmaker will get offended by anything we call ‘em, anyway.)

  8. Paul Miller says:

    Costa Rica should be wary. There’s no way they can get away with campbelling against anyone other than USMNT.

  9. Mr_A says:

    The race does not always go to the fastest runner, nor the battle always to the strongest soldier.

    But it’s still the way to bet. Jamaica will fall to the Ticos, and Honduras is pretty safe as well.