The United States and Mexico may be the focus of American soccer, but the other four CONCACAF squads vying for a spot in the 2018 World Cup got their Hexes started on Friday, too.
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A pair of MLS-based goal scorers helped Costa Rica avoid an upset, while a player from Sporting San Miguelito belted in a free kick for an early upset.
Honduras 0-1 Panama
Fidel Escobar (Sporting San Miguelito) made sure the Hex didn’t go more than a half-hour without providing the potential for a big upset, and then Panama held out for a massive three points on the road. Panama’s only win of the last Hex was at home to Honduras, and they’ve started this one with a statement.
Panama hosts Mexico next, while Honduras has to get off the mat and pick up three points when Trinidad and Tobago visits on Tuesday. Two home losses — really even just a lone home point — against two non-CONCACAF powers would be a horrendous hole.
Trinidad & Tobago 0-2 Costa Rica
Would we see another upset, this time at Port of Spain? Halftime saw the highly-favored visitors looking at goose eggs on both sides of the scoreboard.
Costa Rica went 5-0 at home in the Hex last cycle, but failed to win on the road. That changes this go-round, as veterans Christian Gamboa (Celtic) and Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps) linked up for a tap-in finish in the 65th minute. New York City FC man Ronald Matarrita made it 2-0 in stoppage time.