A roundup of all of Friday’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers in North and Central America and the Caribbean…
USA 0-2 Costa Rica
For the first time since 1958, the U.S. national team has lost two home games during the same cycle of WCQ. Marco Ureña scored both goals for Los Ticos, Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron endured nightmare evenings at center back, Bruce Arena stranded Michael Bradley on a midfield island, and the honeymoon period is over for Arena and Co., just like that. Tuesday’s matchup with Honduras just became the biggest game of the last three years.
Mexico 1-0 Panama
Oh, the difference four years can make. An entire World Cup cycle ago, Mexico were seconds from failing to qualify for the inter-continental playoffs, let alone the finals tournament in Brazil itself. Only the miracle of all miracles rescued El Tri from the ultimate embarrassment of missing the World Cup as one of CONCACAF’s two giants.
Fast forward 47 months, and Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico is the first from the region to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Russia, with three games of the Hexagonal still to play. Friday’s 1-0 victory over Panama which puts Mexico on 17 points, coupled with the USMNT’s loss, means El Tri have clinched a top-three place.
Hirving Lozano scored the game’s only goal, a 53rd-minute header.
Trinidad and Tobago 1-2 Honduras
Los Catrachos have risen from the dead, thanks to the rare road win in CONCACAF. Alexander Lopez scored the game’s opening goal in the 7th minute, and Houston Dynamo winger Alberth Elis tacked on what would turn out to be the game-winning goal just 10 minutes later.
Honduras held on, in desperate fashion, after Alvin Jones was sent off in the 58th minute, reducing T&T to 10 minute for the final half-hour. Seattle Sounders left back Joevin Jones converted from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, but that’s as close as the Soca Warriors would get. With the victory, Honduras are level with the USMNT, for third place (automatic qualification), on eight points, trailing only on goal differential. Those very sides will face off Tuesday evening in San Pedro Sula.
Updated CONCACAF WCQ standings
1. Mexico — 17 points, +8 GD
2. Costa Rica — 14 points, +7 GD
3. USA — 8 points, +1 GD
4. Honduras — 8 points, -7 GD
5. Panama — 7 points, -1 GD
6. Trinidad and Tobago — 3 points, -8 GD