World Cup qualifying

AP Photo/Moises Castillo

USMNT’s next World Cup qualifier headed for New Jersey

Leave a comment

We have a home for the United States men’s national team’s next 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The Yanks will tangle with Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on Sept. 1. U.S. Soccer says it’s the first WCQ at the venue.

That match is four days ahead of an away qualifier in Honduras. The U.S. lost 4-0 in Costa Rica, and defeated Honduras 6-0 on American soil.

[ MORE: Leicester closes in on Iheanacho ]

Los Ticos are in second place in the Hex through six matches with 11 points, three points behind leaders Mexico and three ahead of the U.S.

Panama sits fourth with seven points.

CONCACAF WCQ: Panama snatch a point late; CRC hold off T&T

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
2 Comments

Tuesday night’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers couldn’t have gone much better for the U.S. national team, who hold onto third place in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

Panama 2-2 Honduras

The air was rife with controversy in Panama City on Tuesday, as a Honduras side fighting for its World Cup dream pushed Panama to the limit, with a little help from a swallowed referee’s whistle.

It was a night to savor for Houston Dynamo fans, too, with the MLS side’s Honduran duo of Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis bagging a goal each. Quioto opened the scoring in the 6th minute, and Elis put Los Catrachos back in front in the 65th minute, after Blas Perez pulled Los Canaleros level with his head shoulder back neck upper-body part four minutes before halftime.

Then, in the 74th minute, came the controversial non-goal moment which Panamanians will (rightly, perhaps) feel cost their side two points on the night. Gabriel Torres appeared to redirect the ball over the goal line as he stood completely unmarked at the back post following a corner kick. He didn’t strike it cleanly, though, and the ball looped into the air just high enough and long enough for Donis Escober to palm it off his line, at least according to the referee.

The home side would get its equalizer in the final minute of regular time, as Roman Torres, the Seattle Sounders’ 2016 MLS Cup penalty shootout hero, popped up at just the right moment to slot the ball past Escober and rescue a point for Panama.

As far as the USMNT is concerned, a draw was the perfect result for the two sides immediately behind them in the standings (below).

[ MORE: 10-man France top England; Brazil, Argentina rout ]


Costa Rica 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago

Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo got Costa Rica off to a flying start, putting the home side 1-0 ahead in the 1st minute, only to see his club teammate, forward Kevin Molino, pull Trinidad and Tobago level 34 minutes later. Bryan Ruiz bagged the game-winning goal in the 44th minute, though, to all but officially end T&T’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s tournament in Russia.

Current Hex standings

1. Mexico — 14 points
2. Costa Rica — 11
3. USA — 8
4. Panama — 8
5. Honduras — 5
6. T&T — 3

STREAM: Panama-Honduras, Costa Rica-T&T in CONCACAF WCQ

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
Leave a comment

Round 6 of CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup concludes Tuesday night, as the other four hopefuls (not named Mexico or the United States) for next summer’s tournament in Russia are back in action.

[ WATCH LIVE: CONCACAF WCQs on En Vivo ]

You can stream tonight’s games (in Spanish) on En Vivo by clicking the link above, or here.

Panama vs. Honduras — 9:30 p.m. ET

Costa Rica vs. Trinidad and Tobago — 10 p.m. ET

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

Following the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Mexico on Sunday, the Hex standings read as follows:

1. Mexico — 14 points
2. Costa Rica — 8
3. USA — 8
4. Panama — 6
5. Honduras — 4
6. T&T — 3

The rest of the way: USMNT’s road map to the World Cup

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
Leave a comment

The United States is 60 percent through the final round of World Cup qualifying, 10 percent further than two-thirds of the field.

All six sides will be on even footing in terms of matches played by the stroke of Midnight on Tuesday.

The magic number for an automatic World Cup spot and the fourth-place spot and an inter-confederation match versus the fifth-best Asian side can be figured out within a reasonable margin.

Since the start of the Hex, the third-place sides have won the following amount of points: 15, 16, 16, 17, 14.

The fourth-place sides have claimed 11, 16, 13, and 14 (The fourth place team in 1998, Costa Rica, won 12 points but that tournament only permitted three CONCACAF teams to advance to France).

Here’s how the Americans finish the Hex (Standings here):

Sept. 1 — HOME vs. Costa Rica (TBA)
Sept. 5 — AWAY to Honduras
Oct. 6 — HOME vs. Panama (Orlando, Fla.)
Oct. 10 — AWAY to Trinidad and Tobago

The story here, as always, is simple but not easy. The Yanks have won their last three home World Cup qualifiers against Panama by scores of 2-0, 2-0, and 6-0. In the same stretch, the Americans are 2W-2D versus Costa Rica at home.

As for trips to Honduras, the U.S. lost its last Hex match there but won the previous two. The Americans are 3W-2D-1L in its last six World Cup qualifiers at Trinidad and Tobago.

Given how the Yanks have traditionally fared at home, it would be stunning if they failed to claim four of six points from the final two matches. And it’s reasonable to expect they beat either Honduras or T&T for another three points.

Overall, another three wins would make it fairly improbable that the Americans would fail to qualify for Russia. Two wins and a draw could also do the trick. Anything less is extremely dicey in the race for third.

U.S. fans should root for Honduras to get a draw out of Panama on Tuesday. It would be terrific for T&T to do the same in Costa Rica, but that would be asking a lot of the Soca Warriors (granted they’ll be desperate).

Iran joins Russia, Brazil in 2018 World Cup (video)

Leave a comment

Iran is the third nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, joining Brazil and hosts Russia in international sports’ top spectacle.

Young forwards Sardar Azmoun (22, Rostov) and Mehdi Taremi (24, Persepolis) scored the goals as Iran topped Uzbekistan 2-0 on Monday in Tehran.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The win gave Iran 20 points in qualifying with two matches left to play, and Team Melli now has seven more than second place South Korea and eight more than Uzbekistan.

The top two teams in both groups of AFC World Cup qualifying go to Russia, while the third place teams play a two-legged playoff to advance to the inter-confederation playoff against the fourth-place team from CONCACAF.