Final six in regional World Cup qualifying now set

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The final round of qualifying in the United States’ regional (CONCACAF) is set.

The United States finished first atop Group C (but gets nothing for finishing first rather than second) and joins five others in final-stage qualifying, which begins in February.

The top three teams from final round play move on to Brazil 2014; CONCAFAF’s fourth-place team meets Oceania’s winner in a home-and-home series for a spot.

Here are the teams in next year’s final round (which some people refer to as the “hexagonal,” although I am only telling you that to alleviate confusion when you read about it elsewhere, because “hexagonal” is silly; it’s just the “final round of qualifying” if you ask me.)

  • United States
  • Costa Rica
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Panama

It was close for the Panamanians, who needed a 77th-minute to manage a 1-1 draw with Cuba. This is only the second time in the final round for Panama since this format was adopted before the 1998 World Cup.

Honduras capped a wonderful year for soccer in that country by claiming a spot, doing so at the expense of Canada. The Honduran capital of San Pedro Sula became a true house of horrors Tuesday for the Canadians, whose 8-1 defeat was its second worse loss ever.

Mexico was already through (finishing strong with a win over El Salvador), and final round regular Costa Rica secured its spot as expected with an easy victory over Guyana.

Officials of the six federations will meet later this week in Miami, hoping to arrange the schedule. The first match is Feb. 6; the next two matches will be in March.

If officials cannot come to suitable scheduling arrangements – this is a new method of attempting to set the matches – they will revert to the old method of a draw to arrange the order of matches.