The United States lastest Dos A Cero over Mexico in Columbus was the big story to emerge from Tuesday night’s Concacaf action, but Costa Rica also punched their ticket to Brazil with a 1-1 tie in Jamaica.
Fresh off of a decisive 3-1 home victory over the U.S., the Ticos conceded a stoppage time goal to Jermaine Anderson, to let Jamaica claim a share of the points in Kingston. Costa Rica won’t be too down as they are going to Brazil.
That leaves four teams to fight for the remaining one and a half spots allotted to Concacaf in next summer’s World Cup. One and a half, meaning that the fourth place team will face off against Oceania winner New Zealand, for a place at Brazil 2014.
A look at the standings shows Honduras with 11 points, a three point cushion over Panama and Mexico, who are battling for fourth. Panama is actually ahead of their far more accomplished foes on goals scored, 7 to 4. The teams are level on goal difference, each at -2. Last place Jamaica, though technically still alive with four points, has almost no chance at qualification.
The final round of games in the Hex takes place next month with matches on October 11th and 15th. The highlight shapes up to be Mexico hosting Panama, at the formerly imposing Azteca. I say formerly, because where once El Tri could be just about certain of a win on their home turf, in this Hex, that has not proved to be the case.
Not even close. Mexico has played four times in their Mexico City home in this round, coming away with three scoreless draws and that 2-1 loss to Honduras. The loss was Mexico’s second ever at home in World Cup Qualifiers.
Mexican manager, Chepo de la Torre took the fall after that loss and his replacement Luis Fernando Tena was given just the loss to the U.S. in Columbus, before he too was shown the door, with Victor Manuel Vucetich taking over.
So, crazy times for Mexico and Panama look to take advantage. The Canaleros had an impressive run to the final of the Gold Cup this July, where they fell 1-0 to the U.S. Two of Panama’s top stars, goalkeeper Jamie Pinedo and attacker Gabriel Torres impressed enough during the Concacaf Championship tournament to earn MLS contracts. Pinedo with the L.A. Galaxy and Torres, who signed with the Colorado Rapids.
The duo have continued to shine in Panama’s Hexagonal campaign, with Torres banging home two goals in Tuesday’s tie with Honduras. Mexico will play at Costa Rica in their final match of the Hex, with the Canaleros at home to the United States.
With both the Yanks and the Ticos already through, and Mexico and Panama fighting for their World Cup dream, October 15th shapes up as a thrilling day for Concacaf fans.
Third place Honduras look a good bet to at least get that fourth position, playing Costa Rica at home on the 11th, before closing out in Jamaica four days later.
The U.S. rode the Mexico victory to a FIFA World Ranking of 13th, while Mexico dropped out of the top 20, to 21. Does the FIFA ranking matter? Maybe, but maybe not. For the 2010 World Cup FIFA used the rankings to seed the top seven teams, along with host South Africa. At previous Cups the rankings were given less importance.
FIFA told MLSsoccer.com that, “the final draw procedure will only be determined following the FIFA World Organizing Committee meeting which takes place on December 3, 2013 in Salvador de Bahia.”
Although not surprising, FIFA’s action will have teams all around the world going to play matches without knowing their true value. Teams already assured of qualification, will go into these games blind. Do they experiment with prospects, rest overworked stars, or even gamble with injured players, in a push for a higher ranking that could go a long way to determining the success of their World Cup?
Why not have the rules settled before the competition begins? But then this is the organization that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, only to try and change the rules once they found out that it gets a little warm there in the summer.
In more USMNT news, the bad blood continues between the U.S. and Costa Rica with the Ticos reportedly under investigation for the actions of their fans and one player in last week’s 3-1 Tico victory. The Costa Rican Federation is reportedly to be fined for the behavior of their fans who drowned out the U.S. National Anthem with boos and whistles.
Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell terrorized the U.S. defense in San Jose, capping his night with the back breaking third goal that ended U.S. comeback hopes. But Campbell also hurt the U.S. when he fell to the ground after walking behind U.S. defender Matt Besler, with Besler drawing a yellow card, and missing the Mexico game.
Replays leave little doubt that Campbell’s actions were disingenuous and Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia reports that FIFA is investigating.
And finally, U.S. Soccer announced that the team will play a friendly November 15th versus Scotland at Hampden Park, in Glasgow. The U.S. most recently played Scotland in May, 2012 winning 5-1 in Jacksonville, Florida, behind Landon Donovan’s hat trick.