After three matches played in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, the United States has a 65% chance of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index. Despite sitting just fourth in the Hex standings on goal differential, they possess the third highest chances among the six-team group.
SPI Hex projections after yesterday. #USMNT's World Cup chances jumped from 54% to 65% yesterday. pic.twitter.com/L6jByLiUMw— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 25, 2017
With a daunting test away from home in Panama approaching on Tuesday, how would a result there change the odds? Well, I’m glad you asked. According to the same metrics, if the U.S. pull off a win in Panama City, their odds of clinching automatic qualification to Russia ‘18 would jump all the way up to 85%. While, if they can manage a point their chances get a nice bump up to 69%. If they are met with defeat, their odds would drop down to a 50/50 shot.
In case you think #USMNT is out of the proverbial woods yet, here's what Tuesday's match will mean (independent of other results): pic.twitter.com/7m8H9rLXBo— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 25, 2017
It’s unknown what exactly the factors are in determining these percentages. The U.S. have three remaining home matches in the Hex. The toughest remaining away match is obvious at Estadio Azteca against Mexico in June. While their toughest home match is against Costa Rica. Looking at it from a dumbed down perspective, assuming they win all their home matches and pick up a win and a draw or two away from home, they should be perfectly fine. There’s a lot of work to be done, but getting the first win was the most important thing.