CONCACAF Qualifying: Another Look


It’s become fashionable to assume Mexico is in jeopardy of missing the World Cup. But are they really?  The United States also still runs the risk of slipping to the 4th position in qualifying. The truth is when you objectively analyze qualifying very little separates the top four sides.

Each of the top four nations have taken every possible point at home and each has taken zero points against the other top 4 nations on the road. The only road points gained have been the US at El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica at the aging and woeful Trinidad and Tobago team. Mexico and US still face the softest road test in the region when they travel to Port of Spain. So the truth is you have four nations bunched up closely all of whom could win the Hex or fall to the unenviable position of 4th thus facing Argentina or another South American team in a play off.

Assuming every team  should gain three points at home and zero points in each road match here is the points earned or lost thus far in qualifying:

Costa Rica  +3

United States   +1

Honduras    +1

Mexico   0

T&T   -4

El Salvador  -4

When looking at this chart consider that traditionally in CONCACAF both Mexico and the United States draw more fouls and penalty kick calls than all other CONCACAF nations combined. For example in Gold Cup 2007, the US drew a penalty kick in four straight matches, and also benefited from some other questionable calls most notably a sending off a Panamanian player late in a 2-1 match and an off sides call on Atiba Hutchinson when in fact he intercepted an Oguchi Onyewu back pass for Canada.

The U.S. has now also drawn a penalty kick in two consecutive qualifiers.

On the Mexican end, the whining and go to ground mentality of several players most obviously, Andreas Guardado and Carlos Vela will play a role as will the return of the unsporting Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who for years has goaded officials into making bad decisions. The Blanco effect wa sin full display in the semifinal stage of qualifying when the midfielder goaded the official into making a wrong call  late in a match that gave Mexico a free kick which ultimately beat Honduras 2-1.  That call essentially put Mexico into the Hexagonal instead of Jamaica.

Based on the reality of CONCACAF, Honduras has a mountain to climb. Despite having more players playing at truly big European clubs than any other CONCACAF nation other than perhaps the US, the squad still under performs in the most important matches.

With five fixture dates left a lot of football and scenarios need to be played out. Right now we know who the top four will be but what order is still in question.

Other Notes:

  • Houston beat Chivas USA 1-0 in front of a massive crowd for a midweek game. Due to World Cup qualifying and my inabaility to find the game on Direct Kick I missed it, but will watch it today as it has shown up on MLS Live TV.
  • Ocean City beat Crystal Palace USA to advance to round two of the US Open Cup. Real Maryland advanced by “defeating” the Aegean Hawks in the DC suburbs derby thought he game was called due to lightning after 74 minutes. Keep in mind that game had been rescheduled from the previous night due to lightning. Last year Real Maryland and DC United both had numerous games postponed thanks to lightning in the DC metro area.
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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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7 Responses to CONCACAF Qualifying: Another Look

  1. Joey Clams says:

    I don’t know how “fashionable” it is to “assume that Mexico is in jeopardy.” First of all, making note of someone’s peril is not the same as predicting demise. Noise about Mexico’s trouble is just glee or wishful thinking or both.

  2. yeah joey clams, probably both.

  3. jason says:

    I agree the +/- format presented above is the best way to look at qualifying at any point. If form holds and Honduras wins at home against Costs Rica and Mexico beats the US, then the US, Mexico, and Honduras will be within 1 point of each other and within 2 or 3 points of Costa Rica. I think the top 4 will be solidified by the end of the September double fixture date, but the ordering of those 4 will go down to the final day of qualifying.

  4. joe says:

    Houston v Chivas USA was ESPN2 Kartik

  5. M. Argueta says:

    Jack Warner the leader of the CONCACAF CARTEL said a few days ago that Mexico will qualify. That takes care of 1 spot. The USA and Costa Rica will take the other spots. I have been following Honduras for 29 years. They can never perform under pressure and will not be able to win all the home games that at this point are must win games. El Salvador will benefit the most from this qualifying series even though they will not qualify. They are preparing a generation of youg players and they may be a factor in Brazil 2014 qualifying.

  6. Seybold says:

    Honduras hosts Costa Rica in the next match, and Mexico hosts the USA. After 6 matches with 4 to go, the table will likely be very close:

    Costa Rica 12
    USA/Honduras 10
    Mexico 9

    If Costa Rica or the USA were to avoid losing, they’d be very close to qualifying, simply because either Mexico or Honduras would be left too far behind. It’s not likely however.

  7. LI Matt says:

    I took a look at the past qualifying campaigns since the Hexagonal was introduced for the 1998 WC.

    The magic number is 15 — every team that has reached the 15-point mark has finished in the top 3 (Jamaica was third with 14 points in ’98). So, the US basically needs two more wins to qualify. There are two home games and T&T away on the schedule; it’s not unreasonable to expect five points from those three (nine points is possible, but “expected” is a bit much).

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