Found June 13, 2013 on
Football and Futbol:
My how things have changed. The United State Mens National Team began the year a bit on the ropes. The team had an up and down type 2012 and were eager to begin the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Ten matches with up to thirty points up for the taking. Of the six teams left in the hexagon shaped tournament, three qualify outright while the fourth will take on the winner of the Oceania region of FIFA. Half way through the final round and the Yanks are top of the group. Through five matches they lead the way with ten points. They have already played games away to Jamaica, Honduras, and rival Mexico. The Americans come away from those three hostile environments with four points out of a possible nine. This comes on the heels of a hard fought and well deserved point in Mexico and a injury time winner against Jamaica. The squad added victories over Panama and Costa Rica to bring them to their current total. With the final five matches on the horizon, let us take a look and prognosticate the rest of the way for the USMNT and their all but certain spot in Brazil 2014.
The first and perhaps most important factor facing the current group of Americans is that the final five matches feature three home games. These are meetings with Honduras on June 18th, Mexico on September 9th, and Jamaica on October 10th. Nine points to be had and it is quite possible for all nine points to be gained. As for the remainder road matches, the Americans take on Costa Rica on September 5th and Panama on October 14th. Qualification should be sewn up long before the match against Panama and likely by the visit by El Tri in September. Let’s take a look at how that can be done, assuming that history hold true and fifteen points is all that is needed to qualify out of the group. .
The match against Honduras will be played in Sandy, Utah. Rio Tinto Stadium is the home to Real Salt Lake of the MLS and is a relatively new soccer focused facility. The home crowd will be well behind the Americans and the recent stellar play of players such as Jozy Altidore and the return of Graham Zusi will be more than enough to dominate a smaller Honduras squad. Prediction: US dominates 2-0, that’s another three points bringing the total to thirteen.
The September visit to Costa Rica is tricky. Traveling away from American soil has traditionally been unkind for the National Team. However, this team seems to have a different attitude regarding travel. Surely the wins in Italy and Mexico as well as the subsequent draw also on Mexican soil has done wonders to boost expectations. However, an ugly loss to Honduras in January keeps the doubt in the back of the minds of both players and fans. Ultimately the Yanks are healthy and enjoying having their full quality of players at their disposal. Prediction: Costa Rica does its best to make it exciting but it is ultimately a Clint Dempsey night as he knock in a pair for a 2-1 victory and another three points. Using prior qualification standings as a metric, the Americans sixteen points would not only lead the current group, but also ensure qualification. Not bad considering three matches remain.
El Tri come to Columbus on the 10th of September and arrive with three points from their tangle the week prior with Honduras. The Mexican side will look to breakthrough in Columbus for their first win against the Americans in home of MLS’ Columbus Crew. The last two meetings between the neighboring rivals saw the USMNT win its first contest in Estadio Azteca and followed that up with a crucial scoreless draw in CONCACAF qualifying. Mexico will hope that the victory against Honduras was a sign of things to come for the 2012 Olympic gold medalists. Thus far goals have been hard to come by and has placed the early favorite at third in the current standings. The US may decide to play for the victory with manager Jurgen Klinsmann expecting a possible matchup against Mexico in Brazil in a year and looking to create a mental stranglehold over the southern neighbor. Mexico will come out looking to salvage a point. Prediction: The Mexican side is looking for a point and play into the aggressive American attack. 3-2 to the Yanks as critics and fans begin to change their idea as to who is the top team in CONCACAF.
The final two matches, home to Jamaica and away to Panama hold no significance other than to provide the final rankings of the region and to help Klinsmann settle questions moving forward. A win over Jamaica and a draw away to Panama finish up qualifying for the Americans and bring the final total to twenty-three points. It is an amazing turnaround from the loss to open up the final round of qualification. Over the final five matches, the USMNT take twelve out of a possible fifteen points and keep the early loss to Honduras as the only blemish. The Americans took the CONCACAF by storm and controlled matches for long stretches at a time. The resurgent Jozy Altidore and the continued growth of Michael Bradley allows the attack to flow forward with the help of players such as Dempsey and Zusi. The back line has begun to gel and will continue to mesh well as time goes on. Brazil 2014 is just around the corner and hopes are high for the success of the US National Team.
Sit back and enjoy the rest of World Cup qualifying. Think things will turn out different? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
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