As the results from Friday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers came in, fans of the United States started to dissect what it meant for the USMNT in terms of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. With the home loss against Costa Rica, their chances to directly qualify took a serious blow, but there is still a chance for the United States to get back in position to qualify in October. Fans have been heading to World Cup simulators to determine what needs to happen for the USMNT to qualify. We will take a look at the scenarios for how the standings could look and who has a chance to qualify with tomorrow’s matches.
First, let’s take a look at the standings for the Hexagonal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying:
Mexico, with their win Friday night, became the first CONCACAF side to clinch a spot in the World Cup. Everyone else currently still has a shot to either qualify directly for the World Cup or through the playoff, but only Costa Rica can do so on Tuesday. For the rest of the teams, October will be when their fate is officially settled.
Now, the matches Tuesday will be Honduras hosting the USMNT in San Pedro Sula, Costa Rica at home against Mexico, and Panama taking on Trinidad and Tobago in Panama City. Here are the scenarios of what each team needs to do to either clinch a World Cup berth or move up in the rankings:
Mexico - Qualified for World Cup.
Costa Rica - Currently 2nd in the Hex. Qualify for World Cup with: a win Tuesday against Mexico; a draw against Mexico and a victor in the USA-Honduras match; a draw and a Panama draw or loss. Remain in 2nd place with a draw or loss to Mexico.
USA - Currently 3rd. Remain in 3rd with a win at Honduras. Fall to 4th with: a draw against Honduras and a Panama win; a loss against Honduras and a Panama draw or loss. They fall to 5th with a loss against Honduras and a Panama win
Honduras - Currently 4th. Jump to 3rd with a win against the USA. Remain in 4th with: a draw against the USA and a Panama draw; a loss against the USA and a Panama loss. Drop to 5th with a draw or loss to the USA and a Panama win
Panama - Currently 5th. Jump to 3rd with a win against Trinidad and Tobago and a Honduras-USA draw. Jump to 4th with a draw against Trinidad and Tobago and a victor in the USA-Honduras match. Remain in 5th with: a draw against T&T and a USA-Honduras draw; a loss to T&T.
Trinidad and Tobago - Currently last in the Hex. Eliminated with loss to Panama and a victor in Honduras-USA. Remain in 6th with a win or draw against Panama
What does this all mean? Nothing is settled yet, and every team still has hope to make it to Russia. For the USMNT, this means a win against Honduras Tuesday is incredibly important. Win, and the road remains clear to clinch a spot next month. Lose, and the chances of making an 8th straight World Cup take a nosedive. So, don’t start looking at flights to Australia, Uzbekistan, China, Malaysia (to play Syria) or the United Arab Emirates just yet. Let’s focus on 3 points tomrrow in Honduras.