CONCACAF World Cup qualifying

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Arena says USMNT unlikely to catch Mexico in CONCACAF WCQ

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The U.S. Men’s National Team will surely be happy with their most recent four-point gathering during the resumption of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but manager Bruce Arena realizes that their recent fortunes likely won’t be enough to catch Mexico at the top.

[ MORE: MLS Week 16 Power Rankings: Fire extend unbeaten run to seven ]

Arena and Co. picked up a 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago last Thursday before earning a 1-1 draw with Mexico just three days later at the Estadio Azteca.

As things stand, the USMNT sits third in the Hexagonal — the final round of CONCACAF WCQ — on eight points, while leaders Mexico have 14 points and second-place Costa Rica have 11.

“There’s a little bit more, but there’s not a whole lot. It’s a pretty tight race at this point, and I don’t think we have any interest in finishing fourth,” Arena told U.S. Soccer.

“Our goal is second or third place, because I think Mexico is far ahead and it’s unlikely we can catch them. We can be second or third and I don’t really care which way we end up, but we certainly don’t want to be in fourth.

While the position in which the USMNT finishes doesn’t help or harm them in the qualification process for Russia 2018, the U.S. will obviously still strive for the top spot in the North/Central American region.

The top-three sides from CONCACAF automatically reach next summer’s World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will compete in a two-legged play off with an undetermined Asian nation.

Since the start of the Hexagonal in the buildup to World Cup 1998, third-place teams in CONCACAF have needed at least 14 points to safely reach FIFA’s most-prized tournament. In order to reach or pass that threshold, the U.S. would need to win at least two more of its final four matches in qualifying.

FS1 draws biggest audience for qualifier for US-Mexico

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CHICAGO (AP) The United States’ 1-1 draw at Mexico in a World Cup qualifier Sunday night drew the biggest audience for such a game in FS1 history, according to Nielsen Media Research.

FS1 attracted 2,052,000 viewers. Viewership built throughout the match and peaked at 2.8 million viewers from 10-10:15 p.m. EDT.

Earlier this week, Spanish-language Univision announced it drew the most viewers in the U.S. for any soccer match this year.

Univision attracted an average of 4.5 million viewers for the game from Azteca Stadium. Additionally, it was the top World Cup qualifying match in any language on any network in more than four years, since March 26, 2013.

Mexico’s Osorio: Pulisic is “a player we have to watch out for”

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We all know the genuine dislike that stands between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico, and the two CONCACAF nations will once again renew their rivalry on Sunday night.

[ MORE: How will the USMNT line up on Sunday against Mexico? ]

As the USMNT continues to find its identity under second-term manager Bruce Arena, one player has found himself at the center of everybody’s radar, and that player is Christian Pulisic.

The Borussia Dortmund youngster dazzled for the Bundesliga side in 2016/17 and now he’s backing up that consistency with strong performances for the USMNT, who look to inch closer to Russia 2018 with a win against El Tri.

One man who knows Pulisic’s value very well and is cautiously aware of the 18-year-old… Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio.

“Pulisic is a great player and very important for them,” said the Colombian coach. “In Borussia [Dortmund] he can play on either wing and now he’s playing behind the two No. 9s in a structure that looks to be a 4-3-1-2… narrow in the middle in the field.

“He’s a player we have to watch out for and be careful of because he has individual talent and is capable of assisting the two forwards.”

In four USMNT matches this year, Pulisic has scored as many goals for the Stars and Stripe, including two during the second half of Thursday’s 2-0 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying win over Trinidad & Tobago.

Mexico releases squad ahead of Hex clash with USMNT

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CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is back next week and there’s nothing bigger than USA-Mexico in the North American region.

[ MORE: USMNT takes on Venezuela ahead of Hexagonal return ]

El Tri has revealed its 29-man roster to take on the United States and Honduras in its preceding WCQ fixture, which includes LA Galaxy attacker Giovani dos Santos and striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

Meanwhile, veteran defender Rafael Marquez remains in the Mexico squad at the age of 38 and boasts 139 caps in his time with the Mexican national team.

Mexico will meet Honduras on June 8 before taking on the USMNT three days later, with both matches being played at the Estadio Azteca.

To this point, El Tri are unbeaten through four matches in WCQ sit atop the Hexagonal table on 10 points.

Orlando City Stadium to host USMNT-Panama in World Cup qualifier

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Expect a hot and humid one when the U.S. Men’s National Team plays its final home match as part of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that the USMNT will play Panama at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida as Bruce Arena’s side looks to book its place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Arena and co. will take on Panama on October 6 before playing its final WCQ four days later down in the Caribbean when the Stars and Stripes meet Trinidad & Tobago.

Through four rounds of play, the USMNT currently sits in fourth place in the Hexagonal with four points. The U.S. trails leaders Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama as things stand, but the Americans will be vying hard for a top-three position in an attempt of automatically qualifying for the World Cup for an eighth consecutive cycle.

The Americans have previously played just one WCQ in the state of Florida, which came back in 1980.