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Qualifying scenarios remaining for the USMNT after Friday’s defeat

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There was a clear negative to take away from Friday’s 2-0 home defeat against Costa Rica, and that was that with the loss the U.S. Men’s National Team is now in a precarious position in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Three things from the USMNT’s defeat against Costa Rica ]

The loss did two things for Bruce Arena and his side. First, the U.S. now falls six points behind the Ticos in the Hexagonal, while Costa Rica has moved a giant step closer to Russia next summer.

On top of that, Mexico took care of business at home against Panama, with a 1-0 result, giving El Tri the first of three automatic spots in next year’s World Cup.

Here’s a look at the current Hexagonal table as things stand.

  1. Mexico — 17 points — +8 GD (Qualified for Russia)
  2. Costa Rica — 14 points — +7 GD
  3. USMNT — 8 points — +1 GD
  4. Honduras — 8 points — -7 GD
  5. Panama — 7 points — -1 GD
  6. Trinidad & Tobago — 3 points — -8 GD

Barring something catastrophic, Costa Rica has done enough to book its place in Russia and mathematically the Ticos could lock up a place on Tuesday with a win over Mexico at the Estadio Nacional.

That leaves one spot remaining for direct qualification into the World Cup from North/Central America and a fourth spot that would result in a playoff against a team from Asia.

Despite the chaos the U.S. has inflicted upon itself after Friday’s loss, the Stars and Stripes still hold fate in their own hands. The team’s 6-0 victory over Honduras back in March helped the USMNT’s goal differential significantly, which is what separates the two nations at the moment as a tiebreaker.

With the U.S. and Honduras meeting on Tuesday, a win or draw is essentially a must for Arena and Co. Los Catrachos face a difficult schedule to close out the Hex, with matches against Costa Rica and Mexico looming in October, but the team could very well benefit from both teams having qualified for the World Cup when they take the field next month.

Panama has been a tricky team to judge this qualifying campaign because while they have just one victory to show for themselves, the Canaleros have taken points in five of their seven matches and only conceded five goals in that span.

It’s still hard to imagine Panama finishing in the top three because that would likely mean they’d have to obtain wins against the U.S. and Costa Rica, along with their upcoming match against Trinidad. It’s not impossible though.

Finally, Trinidad is in a similar boat as Panama, but they can’t even lean on a strong backline to cancel out the team’s lack of goalscoring. Trinidad has taken points in one of its seven qualifying matches, so for all intents and purposes we’ll say the Soca Warriors have very slim chances of reaching the World Cup.

Here’s my take on how the final Hex table will shape up to look like.

(Bold automatically qualifies for World Cup, underlined faces AFC nation in playoff)

  1. Mexico — 22 points
  2. Costa Rica — 18 points
  3. USMNT — 15 points
  4. Panama — 10 points (Edges Honduras on GD)
  5. Honduras  — 10 points
  6. Trinidad — 3 points

It’s just hard to imagine the U.S. not qualifying for the World Cup… If the Yanks fall on Tuesday at Honduras then perhaps the idea of it actually happening will move closer to reality, but until that occurs there’s still confidence on the end of this sports writer.

The U.S. will find a way to get a draw in San Pedro Sula, before pulling out victories against Panama and T&T next month. Regardless of your feelings about the USMNT, there is still plenty of talent in the squad and there’s no reason to believe that the Stars and Stripes won’t qualify for Russia, especially given CONCACAF’s qualifying set up.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool dominates, selling Coutinho discussed

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start off today’s show by discussing Man United’s win at The Hawthorns as Lukaku scores for the second straight match with Juan Mata impressing with his link up play. The guys also look at Alan Pardew’s influence on the Baggies. Liverpool net four in a dominating victory over Bournemouth and with Mo Salah continuing to dominate, the Robbies ask: can Liverpool now afford to sell Coutinho? And finally, the guys discuss Bournemouth’s recent struggles.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Report: PSV likely to land Man City, USMNT’s Palmer-Brown on loan

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A number of well-known American players have completed moves to Europe over the years, and a former Sporting KC defender is about to embark on his own journey abroad.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to go fourth ]

U.S. youth national team centerback Erik Palmer-Brown is headed to Premier League side Manchester City, who currently leads the English top flight, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in September.

It is now believed though that the young player will go on loan once he arrives with the English side.

Metro is reporting is that Palmer-Brown is likely to complete a move to Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Palmer-Brown helped the U.S. Under-20 national team reach the quarterfinals at this year’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after previously representing several other U.S. youth national teams.

La Liga & Serie A: Barca routs Deportivo, AC Milan routed

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo

Although Lionel Messi’s stardom was rewarded prior to the match at the Camp Nou with the European Golden Shoe, the Argentine forward couldn’t crack the scoresheet one the game kicked off. That didn’t matter though, as Luis Suarez and Paulinho each bagged braces on the day to keep Barcelona six points clear of Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Messi, who had a penalty kick attempt saved in the second half, came close on several occasions, but couldn’t find the scoring touch for the Blaugrana.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Girona 1-0 Getafe
Celta Vigo 0-1 Villareal
Las Palmas 2-2 Espanyol


Hellas Verona 3-0 AC Milan

If AC Milan’s season wasn’t bad enough prior to Sunday, today’s performance at the Stadio Marc`Antonio Bentegodi could have only made the club’s outlook much, much worse. Hellas captured its third league win of the season, however, the team remains in 19th in Serie A despite picking up three points. Meanwhile, the Rossoneri fell to eight in Italy’s top flight, after Genaro Gattuso’s men were completely outplayed on the road. To make matters worse for the struggling side, Suso earned a straight red card in the dying minutes, leaving Milan to fend with 10 men.

Bologna 0-3 Juventus

At the top of Serie A, things are getting very intriguing as the season nears its halfway point. Juventus did its part to keep pressure on league leaders Napoli, but four teams currently sit within four points of one another at the league’s summit, making for a testy title race. Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic each scored before halftime, giving the Bianconeri a comfortable lead before the break. Meanwhile, ex-PSG man Blaise Matuidi capped off the game’s scoring in the 64th minute.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Atalanta 3-3 Lazio
Benevento 1-2 SPAL
Sampdoria 0-1 Sassuolo
Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa
Crotone 1-0 Chievo Verona