Although they’d need a lot of outside help, the United States could potentially have a World Cup berth wrapped up after the next round of CONCACAF qualifying fixtures.
Sitting atop the hexagonal standings, the United States holds a 2-point lead over Costa Rica and a 5-point advantage over 3rd-place Mexico.
The CONCACAF qualifying matches don’t resume until September 6, but it is mathematically possible for the U.S. to be officially headed to Brazil on that date.
According to ESPN soccer researcher Paul Carr, in order for that to happen:
- The United States must win in Costa Rica
- Mexico and Honduras must draw at Azteca, not a longshot by any means considering Mexico’s played to three consecutive 0-0 draws at home
- The kicker result: Jamaica (with 2 total points thus far) must win at Honduras
Unfortunately, the odds of all that happening is about 1.6%, according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), which runs numerous simulations of each fixture.
The worst-case scenario in that round for the U.S. is a loss at Costa Rica coupled with Honduras and Panama wins. That would see Costa Rica take over the top spot in the group, and the U.S. would be just 3 points clear of 4th place, and 4 points clear of 5th.
If they fail to seal the deal September 6, they could always do it four days later in the States against Mexico (insert evil grin here).
Don’t fret though, folks. In order for the squad to qualify, all they need is a combination of 7 points between those gained by the U.S. and those dropped by whoever holds the 4th spot over the final 4 matches. Given the way each team has beaten up on the next in hexagonal play, it’s not hard to envision that happening sooner rather than later.
And finally, SPI also predicts the USMNT’s chances of qualifying for Brazil at this juncture at a healthy 99.7%.
I’m going to tempt fate with this one: it’s pretty much a guarantee.