Is tonight’s World Cup qualifier pitting the United States and Jamaica at Crew Stadium the most pressure-filled match since 2001?
This story makes the case.
I went over some of the pressure points of World Cup qualifier cycles past in this post. But, yes, this is where most of the exits are all covered, still leaving the United States with escape routes in the event of a loss – but not many of them.
U.S forward Jozy Altidore sums it up nicely as the United States bids for one of two berths in final round World Cup qualifying:
If we don’t win on Tuesday, it gets pretty scary.”
Basically, it goes like this:
Let’s just assume Guatemala wins tonight at Antigua and Barbuda. (That’s no slam dunk, but them’s the odds.)
- If the United States wins tonight: it leaves three teams tied atop the group (Jamaica, Guatemala and the United States). Jurgen Klinsmann’s team has two winnable matches remaining, at Antiqua and Barbuda and at home on Oct. 16 against Guatemala (in Kansas City). Considering that Jamaica and Guatemala will take points from each other on Oct. 12, the United States would find itself in a good spot. All the nail-biting of the past few days would quickly fade to memory.
- If the United States loses: Klinsmann’s men would wake up Wednesday morning in disarray, still in control of their World Cup fate, but asking serious questions of themselves. Jamaica would need just one point to clinch a final-round berth, leaving Guatemala and the United States to scrap for that second spot. Essentially, the United States would probably have to win both of its remaining matches, probably paying attention to goal difference, too.
- If the United States ties tonight: It doesn’t change things too much, although it does add a little more wiggle room than the previous unlovely scenario. The United States might still need two wins to advance, depending on that Oct. 12 result in Guatemala City. Either way, the United States would be under tremendous pressure going into its final pair of semifinal round qualifiers.
(MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s bid for improvement at stake tonight)
(MORE: Clint Dempsey talks about playing on 9/11)
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) Brazil’s Gremio has won the Recopa Sudamericana, beating Argentina’s Independiente 5-4 in a penalty shootout Wednesday night.
The two-legged final ended 1-1 on aggregate, with no goals scored after 120 minutes in the second.
The winners of last year’s Copa Libertadores overcame the holders of Copa Sudamericana after goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe stopped the last penalty of the series, taken by Independiente’s striker Martin Benitez.
The Recopa is played between the champions of South America’s two most important tournaments.
Independiente played most of the match down to 10 players after defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off after 38 minutes.
The Brazilians made most of the pressure until the end of extra time, but failed to score.
Gremio also won the Recopa in 1996.
The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]
Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas
Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.
Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.
Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America
Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.
Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET
Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.
English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.
[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]
West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.
Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”
“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.
Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.
It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).
AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.
Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.
[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]
Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.
4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”
— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.
3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”
— Schoolboy errors!
2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”
— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.
1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”
— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.