Hernandez of Mexico reacts after missing a chance to score against Costa Rica during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Mexico City

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Honduras want to wrap up third, Mexico and Panama desperate to slip in

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There’s just two matches left in the Hexagonal, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more drama. Sure, the United States have qualified, so there’s little to fret about regarding their match with bottom-dwellers Jamaica (although the match presents plenty of opportunities for the USMNT before they travel to Brazil). Costa Rica, too, have qualified with two games to spare. But there’s still that third placed slot, the one that leads directly to the World Cup, and fourth-place, which requires a win over New Zealand to get to Brazil.

Here’s where the drama comes in: two spots, four contenders. Honduras currently occupy the third spot, the last that can take a country directly to the World Cup. They seem relatively safe, but with two games left, their three point lead over both Panama and Mexico looks a bit too narrow, particularly considering they face Costa Rica on Friday night. A win, however, combined with a draw between Mexico and Panama, sees Honduras buying tickets to Brazil.

Jamaica could still, technically, slip in to that playoff spot, but they’ll have to beat both the United States and Honduras, and hope that Panama and Mexico play out a draw. If that happens, and Panama lose to the U.S., and Mexico lose to Costa Rica, Jamaica will have staged a wonderful comeback and will just need to beat New Zealand to reach Brazil.

CONCACAF Matches (Friday, October 11)

Honduras vs. Costa Rica (5 p.m. ET)

If Honduras want to keep their hold on third place, they really need more than a point in San Pedro Sula. Sure, it’s just Jamaica in the final round, and Los Catrachos can likely make it to Brazil with just four points. But do they really want to put that sort of pressure on themselves? If Honduras can secure a win, and Mexico vs. Panama ends in a draw, the Catrachos are through. But there’s an added complication: Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto has declared his intention to finish first in the Hex, stating that he will not treat these last two matches as mere friendlies, but instead as a warm up to the World Cup.

United States vs. Jamaica (6:30 p.m. ET)

Don’t worry, United States supporters — Steve Davis has you covered with an excellent, in-depth preview on the opportunities the USMNT has to fine-tune and perfect its game in the match against Jamaica. There will be more to follow from Kansas City as we count down the hours to kick off.

 Mexico vs. Panama (9:30 p.m. ET)

Definitely the big match in CONCACAF qualifying. Both sides are going to need to go full out: a draw, plus a win for Honduras, leaves them fighting for the spoils of fourth place. Mexico have lost their last two, but new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich is determined to reverse that trend. He hasn’t recalled Carlos Vela, despite his performances with Real Sociedad, but he’s brought in playmaker Lucas Lobos and recalled Rafa Marquez and Guillermo Memo Ochoa. Panama, meanwhile, will be looking to emulate Honduras by getting a win at the Azteca in Mexico City. The Canaleros beat Mexico twice in the Gold Cup this summer, and are hoping that the third time’s a charm as they continue to chase the dream of reaching their first World Cup.

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Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

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But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.