After surviving quite the scare, the U.S. men’s national team have put themselves in a good position to advance from their Fourth Round Group with two matches to play. We wanted to take a look at all possible scenarios for the Red, White and Blue to finish the group and move on to the Hexagonal.
As is stands now, the U.S. would advance as they are sitting in second place behind Trinidad & Tobago. Here is what the table looks like:
Guatemala is still right in the mix, and could potentially still eliminate the U.S. from World Cup qualification. Each team has two matches remaining and the USMNT faces St. Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday before wrapping up the group on September 6th against Trinidad & Tobago.
How to Win the Group
The USMNT need to make up three points on T&T and would obviously do so by beating them on the 6th. However if Trinidad can beat Guatemala, they would tie for first with 13 points and it will come down to goal differential. The U.S. is trailing T&T in that category by one goal at the moment.
USMNT need to win both matches AND do so with a better goal difference than T&T; OR a T&T draw or loss vs Guatemala
How to Advance
For all the pessimists out there, the U.S. can technically lose both remaining matches and still advance.
After Friday’s USMNT match against SVG, all eyes will turn towards Guatemala vs Trinidad & Tobago later on in the evening. If Guatemala can surprise again, then they will REALLY put some pressure on the U.S. going into the final match. A draw between those two teams would probably be the best result for the Americans.
Failure to pick up all three points against last place SVG would likely put the U.S. in a “win or go home” situation against T&T.
But you have to think they’ll take care of business and get that win. In that case, a Guatemala loss to T&T would put the U.S. four points clear and guaranteed to advance going into the final match. If Guatemala draws with T&T, then the U.S. would have to get a result in the last match or hope for SVG to pull of an upset.
The only thing that should matter here.. is that if the Americans win both matches, they advance.
How to be eliminated
Yes, it is a possibility. Don’t shoot the messenger.
If the U.S. messes around and loses both matches, Guatemala would only need two points from two matches to knock them out. One of those matches is against an 0-2 SVG, so the points are there for them to get. But even playing at their worst, the USMNT should be able to get at least one win.
If the U.S. beats SVG and Guatemala also beats T&T, then Guatemala could still eliminate the Americans. That would indeed happen if the USA then lose to T&T and Guatemala beats SVG***.
***Technically if Guatemala were to beat T&T by 10 goals, then only draw against SVG would also see them move into 2nd place in this scenario.
If the United States loses to SVG, Guatemala beats T&T; then U.S. beats T&T and Guatemala beats SVG... it would mean Trinidad & Tobago slide out of qualifying with Guatemala finishing first and the U.S. second.
The Bottom Line
The USMNT hold their destiny in their own hands. If they win these next two matches as they very well should, they are through to the Hexagonal where it is much safer. Of the six teams, the top three go to Russia in 2018 plus a fourth then plays an inter-confederation playoff against a team from Asia to qualify. In 2014 qualifying, Mexico went a lowly 2-3-5 in the Hexagonal and still was able to qualify. This round is more forgiving with more matches to play and one bad day won’t put you on the brink of elimination.