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.
Camilo Sanvezzo scored two goals on Sunday for Queretaro but many won’t even remember the score of the game after his brilliant first effort.
The Queretaro forward scored the first of two finishes in the 66th minute after winning the ball in his own half, carrying it into the Toluca end and unleashing a deadly shot from just inside midfield.
Sanvezzo eventually scored his side’s second goal in the dying minutes of the match, and his 88th minute finish proved to be the winner for Queretaro, who currently sit 13th in Liga MX.
The 28-year-old should be familiar to MLS fans after Sanvezzo’s time with the Vancouver Whitecaps from 2011 to 2013. The veteran scored 39 goals in 92 matches with the Canadian side.
The game in 100 words (or less): Atlanta has been one of the most exciting teams in MLS over the opening two months of the season, but with a bit of luck and grit D.C. United spoiled the newcomers’ fun on Sunday afternoon. It was all the home side early on in the match, which was spearheaded by Kenwyne Jones‘ emphatic header, but D.C. responded well with some good pressure of their own. The win for D.C. moves Ben Olsen’s club into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Atlanta still holds the sixth and final playoff position through eight matches as Gerardo Martino’s side sits on 11 points.
[ MORE: MLS roundup from Saturday’s action ]
Three moments that mattered
9′ — Hosts apply pressure and hit D.C. where it hurts — This is exactly why Atlanta brought in Kenwyne Jones. Big body and deadly heading ability. Can’t stop that.
25′ — D.C. unexpectedly pulls level — It certainly wasn’t how Lamar Neagle drew it up but he and D.C. somehow equalized before the half hour mark after some sloppy Atlanta defending.
36′ — Acosta runs wild — Atlanta will probably want to look back on this moment and make sure they do a better job covering the diminutive attacker next time.
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Men of the match: Luciano Acosta
Goalscorers: Kenwyne Jones (9′), Michael Parkhurst — OG (25′), Luciano Acosta (36′), Sebastian Le Toux (55′)
A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…
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Celta Vigo 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao is up to sixth place following Sunday’s win over Celta, and it was quite the dominant performance from the road side. Celta managed zero shots on target throughout the match in comparison to Bilbao’s 12, while Raul Garcia’s brace helped pace his side to victory with goals on each side of halftime. Mikel Rico added a third in the 83rd minute for good measure but there was never much doubt on the day as to which side was coming away with the points.
Real Betis 1-4 Alaves
Despite going down inside the opening quarter hour, Alaves put out a superb showing after halftime to solidify its place in the top 10 in Spain. Nenad Krsticic, Rubén Sobrino and Christian Santos scored in a 10-minute span early in the second half to give the visitors a commanding lead before Aleksandar Katai added his side’s fourth of the day late in stoppage time.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Osasuna 2-2 Deportivo La Coruna
Eibar 2-0 Leganes
Roma 1-3 Lazio
It’s always a fun one when these two sides get together in the Derby della Capitale but Lazio’s victory could prove quite costly for their rivals from Rome. Keita Balde Diao continues his fantastic scoring run for Lazio as the 22-year-old is up to 13 Serie A goals on the season after Sunday’s brace. The Senegalese striker scored after 12 minutes before providing the final touch on the match for the visiting side. Daniele de Rossi converted from the penalty spot to pull Roma even on the stroke of halftime, but Dusan Basta restored the lead for Lazio five minutes into after the break.
Napoli 1-0 Inter Milan
Jose Callejon made things a lot more interesting in the race for the UEFA Champions League. Following Roma’s defeat, a victory for Napoli ensured that the side would move to within a point of the Giallorossi in Serie A. And that’s exactly what Napoli did. Callejon’s first-half finish gave Napoli the cushion it needed on the day, and now sets up an intriguing race for automatic qualification into next season’s UCL.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Bologna 4-0 Udinese
Cagliari 1-0 Pescara
Crotone 1-1 AC Milan
Empoli 1-3 Sassuolo
Genoa 1-2 Chievo
Palermo 2-0 Fiorentina
Three matches remain in the Bundesliga season, and one U.S. Men’s National Team star might not be able to fend off relegation in his first top-flight campaign in Germany.
[ MORE: Tottenham revel in North London, but they want more ]
USMNT forward Bobby Wood and his Hamburg side fell 4-0 to Augsburg on Sunday, leaving HSV in 16th place in the German table with just several weeks left to play.
Wood has performed well with Hamburg during the 2016/17 season, scoring nine goals across all competitions, however, his side could surely use more goals in the coming weeks.
Including Sunday’s road loss, Hamburg has now lost three consecutive matches and puts Markus Gisdol’s men in a world of trouble down the stretch. Hamburg will face Mainz, Schalke and Wolfsburg over the final weeks of the season, and while those fixtures are actually pretty favorable, it still won’t be an easy test to fend off survival.
With only 18 teams playing in the top two flights of German soccer, the bottom two clubs in the Bundesliga are automatically relegated to Bundesliga.2, while the team that finishes in 16th participates in a playoff with the third-place side from the second division (currently Hanover 96).