CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Matchday Five Round-Up

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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Jermaine Jones #13 of the United States and Hector Herrera #16 of Mexico head the ball in the first half during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

All the games have finished up across the Americas and we finally are getting a clear picture of how the Hexagonal Series will shake out, as the fifth matchday of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Final Round is in the books. We’re going to dive into the round as it happened, and of course how it affects the US Men’s National Team.

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Matchday Five Round-Up

The fifth slate of matches in the Hexagonal Round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying has come to a close. We are now at the halfway point of the final round of qualifying. Let’s dive into the action.

USA 2 – 0 TNT

The US Men’s National Team rode the finishing of Christian Pulisic, and the creativity of Jozy Altidore and Darlington Nagbe to victory in Commerce City, Colorado. After a sluggish start in the first half, a quick and decisive passing move paid off. Nagbe and Dempsey played a clever one-two getting into the box. Nagbe cut the ball back to DeAndre Yedlin, who picked out the perfect ball after Pulisic timed his run to perfection.

The second goal came from yet again, a solid one-two pass from Altidore. Pulisic waltzed in and finished from an extremely tight angle, slipping the ball between the Trinidad keeper’s arm.┬áThe United States win moves them to 7 points from the first five games, and a +3 goal differential.

MEX 3-0 HON

Mexico was making a whole lot about getting revenge for Honduras pulling out a win four years ago in the Azteca. Most of the players in the Mexican squad weren’t even in that roster, but I guess “Revenge” was on the cards. Mexico rode three great goals into first place, with 13 points in their first five games. They are unbeaten at the halfway mark, and frankly would have to experience a disaster to not qualify for the World Cup at this rate

CRC 0-0 PAN

This might have been the best result on the night for the US. Panama wasn’t able to gain any ground on the US, and Costa Rica dropped points, inching the US closer to them in the table. Another big help here might just be former Columbus Crew center-back, Giancarlo Gonzalez, punching current San Jose Earthquakes midfielder, Anibal Godoy, in the face. He received a straight red-card, and could very well face a multi-match suspension, which would keep him out of the US meeting with Costa Rica in September.

The Current Outlook

In the build up to the match against Honduras, Bruce Arena said that roughly 15 or 16 points is the target line for automatic World Cup Qualification. We looked back over history, and since the 2002 World Cup Qualifying Cycle, no team has ever automatically qualified with less than 15 points. The only team to get 15+ points and not qualify was Costa Rica in the 2010 cycle, thanks to the misery of both Trinidad and El Salvador. Here are the current standings to give you a picture of where the US sit.

Team Games Wins Draws Losses GF GA GD Points
Mexico 5 4 1 0 8 1 7 13
Costa Rica 5 2 2 1 7 3 4 8
USA 5 2 1 2 10 7 3 7
Panama 5 1 3 1 2 2 0 6
Honduras 5 1 1 3 4 12 -8 4
Trinidad & Tobago 5 1 0 4 2 8 -6 3

 

The US Men’s National Team would need only eight points to reach that 15 point mark that Arena was discussing. However, they can’t exactly trust that 15 is guaranteed. After the Mexico game on Sunday, the United States will have played its three hardest matches on the schedule, and have four games remaining. Here is what they have left:

  • June 11th at Mexico
  • Sept 1st vs. Costa Rica (Orlando)
  • Sept 5th at Honduras
  • Oct 6th vs. Panama
  • Oct 10th at Trinidad and Tobago

The two big matches outside of the Mexico game that need to be circled are the the September fixtures. If the US Men’s National Team can walk away with four points in those matches, they may have virtually locked up their spot in the World Cup.

They still have their work cut out for them, and with a big result, or an unexpected result in Mexico City on Sunday, could go a long way in alleviating some of the pressure they created for themselves in the early stages of the Qualifying cycle.

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