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World Cup Qualifiers

Onward, to the Hex: Next Steps to Brazil 2014

CONCACAF officials determined the matches for the next round of World Cup qualifying. The Americans have a tough road, but not an impossible one. They should qualify.
BY Noah Davis Posted
November 08, 2012
5:28 AM
The United States national team's path to the 2014 World Cup starts on February 6 in Honduras. In total, the team plays 10 matches with the top three teams advancing to the tournament and the fourth-place finisher entering a playoff.

Here's the full schedule: 2/6 at HON, 3/22 vs CRC, 3/26 at MEX, 6/7 at JAM, 6/11 vs PAN, 6/18 vs HON, 9/6 at CRC, 9/10 vs MEX, 10/11 vs JAM, 10/15 at PAN.

Some early thoughts:

1. The first three matches are brutal. Away at Honduras and Mexico and home against Costa Rica. That said, the middle is a lot easier, so don't panic if the Americans start out slowly.

2. The most important foe is not Mexico. It's Costa Rica. Obviously, the biggest rival is still El Tri, but the Americans don't necessarily need results against Mexico to advance. (Frankly, let's hope they don't.) There's a very real chance the Americans could lose two of the first three matches. That could become three for three unless they beat Costa Rica, who have a winning record against the Stars and Stripes in WCQ, at home on March 22. In a simliar vein, a victory in Costa Rica in September would be huge and give the U.S. momentum for the match against Mexico four days later.

3. Don't worry, Columbus can be cold in September. Although will they play the game against Mexico there?

4. This is a winnable group for the U.S. But it's going to be very tough. They shouldn't, however, have trouble qualifying.

We'll leave you with this: According to ESPN's SPI, the Americans have a 65.6 percent chance to reach the World Cup (behind Mexico at 97.3 percent and Costa Rica at 79.8 percent). Too low? Too high? Just right? Let us know in the comments.


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