Godfrey's Daily Rant
Forget Friday: The U.S. Is Still Sitting Pretty in Hex
Despite Friday's 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, the United States men's soccer team is in a great position to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The Hexagonal schedule and standings tell the most important story.
BY John Godfrey PostedDO ME A FAVOR: Think back to the morning of February 7, 2013. Remember your Hexagonal hangover? Perhaps you were a bit groggy at the time. Let me remind you. The United States men’s soccer team had just lost its first match of the final round of World Cup qualification. A resolute and plucky Honduras beat a Landon Donovan-less but otherwise loaded American lineup, 2-1, under wilting heat and humidity in San Pedro Sula. The U.S. looked clueless on offense. The backline hesitated, and lost. It was an ugly game and a fair result. Now do me another favor. Click on this red type right here. It will take you to ASN’s Hex Channel, where you will find the current World Cup qualification standings. You take a look? You like what you see? You should. If I had told you on February 7th that after seven Hex matches the United States would be 4-1-2 with 13 points, would you have taken it? Yes, you would have—in a heartbeat. I know you’re mad/frustrated/despondent over Friday’s loss to Costa Rica, but think about it: second place. Five points ahead of Mexico. Losses in San Pedro Sula and San Jose but positive results everywhere else. Also: The United States qualifies for the World Cup with a win against Mexico Tuesday (8pm Eastern; ESPN, UniMas) and a Honduras win or a tie at home against Panama. As an added bonus, the American B Team beat up on its regional rivals in the Gold Cup, going undefeated and proving that the U.S. second string has something to offer should they be pressed into duty—as they will be for Tuesday’s match. And now, if you would, look at the upcoming Hexagonal schedule. (You can click on the red type again if you want.) After Tuesday’s game against a reeling Mexico squad in Columbus, the Americans play last-place Jamaica in Kansas City on October 11 and fifth-place Panama four days later in Panama City. For argument’s sake, let’s say an undermanned U.S. squad fails to put away Mexico and Tuesday’s game ends in a draw. That would give the Yanks 14 points over eight matches with two left to play. Suddenly that home game against a Jamaica squad that is winless in the Hex and all but eliminated from World Cup contention looks extremely inviting to the Yanks. If the U.S. comes into that match with everything on the line against a Reggae Boyz team that is merely playing out the string, I like the U.S.’s odds. A lot. In fact, I would argue there’s a very good chance that Clint Dempsey and his teammates will be celebrating on the field at Sporting Park on October 11. Mexico, on the other hand, has amassed eight points after seven games. It has to play on the road against the United States and Costa Rica, shit-sandwiched around a home contest against a Panama squad that beat El Tri twice this summer. There are too many variables to calculate at this point, but there’s a very good chance that Mexico will have to travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, needing a result just to secure the fourth-place playoff spot in the Hex. How would you like to be an El Tri supporter right about now? The point of this rant may be simple, but it's also very important. The United States is in GREAT position to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. We can revisit the above statement after Tuesday's match against Mexico, and we no doubt will. But for right now, right this moment, American supporters should back away from the message boards, erase the memory of Friday's disappointing loss to Costa Rica, and revel in the big picture. Now is a very good time to be an American soccer fan. John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.
September 09, 2013
September 09, 2013