While the United States plays out its World Cup qualifier string with all the drama of Sunday pancake breakfast, the night in CONCACAF qualifying will be packed with floodlit theater surrounding Mexico’s match in Costa Rica.
The simplest scenario here is this: with a draw, Mexico will finish fourth in the six-team group at worst, and that’s good enough for the playoff series against New Zealand.
Honduras needs just a draw at (already eliminated) Jamaica to finish third and clinch its second consecutive World Cup berth. But if Honduras loses in Kingston, Mexico could vault past Los Catrachos by winning and overturning a small goal difference. All the World Cup scenarios are explained by FIFA just a little more in depth here.
So, again, bottom line for sudden hero Raul Jimenez (pictured) and suddenly re-energized El Tri, get at least a tie and keep the party going. What are the chances of such a thing? History suggest, pretty good.
Mexico is 4-0-1 against Costa Rica over the last three qualifying cycles. The only draw in that time was Mexico’s scoreless outing with the Ticos back in June, one of three scoreless draws this round at Azteca Stadium.
Costa Rica did have a famous win over the Mexicans at fabled Azteca, back in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.
But Mexico’s history in Costa Rica has been nothing short of stellar recently. The teams played to a scoreless draw in 2001 during final round qualifying there. Mexico prevailed (2-1) in the CONCACAF final round meeting at Estadio Saprissa ahead of World Cup 2006. And it was Mexico in a romp four years later in the same stage, hammering a 3-0 bruise on the Ticos at Saprissa ahead of World Cup 2010.
One thing to note: those were at Saprissa, as noted. This one is at San Jose’s new Estadio Nacional.