World Cup Qualifying is drawing nearer. For the 6 members of the Hex, every game is so important. With 4 teams on 1 point, everyone is still alive. There are 3 games on the 22nd of March followed by 3 more on the 26th. We Global Football is here to take a look at each of these six games and what they mean to the teams involved. First, let’s take a look at the CONCACAF Sparklines to see how each of these teams is performing:
(Click the image to see larger)
Despite only drawing with Jamaica, Mexico still has shown the best form of late. This jives with our very high ranking of Mexico. They’ve played a tough schedule and done extremely well against it. USA and Panama are next with the other 3 teams all grouped together. All of these teams are very, very good with final numbers all above 50%. This should make for an exciting final round.
Jamaica vs. Panama – Kingston, Jamaica
Coming off a huge point on the road at Mexico, the Reggae Boyz will be looking to build on that momentum. Surely Panama must be disappointed in blowing a 2 goal lead at home only to escape with a draw. Both teams will be out for the full 3 points, but in the end it looks like each team will come away with a point. Panama should be happy picking up any points on the road.
Honduras vs. Mexico – San Pedro Sula, Honduras
The scheduling gods were not too rewarding to Honduras. You come off a huge win at home over USA only to be faced with the #4 squad in the WGF rankings. I think if you told Honduras that after two games against USA and Mexico they’d be on 4 points, they’d be ecstatic. We don’t see a draw as a given here. Mexico knows they must make up for a lapse against Jamaica, and they should come out firing. While Honduras should hold their own, in the end it most likely won’t be enough.
Prediction: Mexico by 1
USA vs. Costa Rica – Commerce City, USA
Costa Rica is the only team to start qualifying with two road games, but knowing they were able to come back and salvage a draw at Panama must be encouraging. The United States absolutely must get something out of this match knowing they have a trip to the Azteca on the horizon. Anything less than 3 points could cause some panic after only 2 games. This match sold out almost a month ago, and you can be sure Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be rocking. While Costa Rica will probably be happy with a point, we don’t think they’ll be able to get it.
Prediction: USA by 1
Panama vs. Honduras – Panama City, Panama
If things shake out as we project, both of these teams will be in the middle of the pack when March 26th comes around. Having blown a golden opportunity at home against Costa Rica, this is a game Panama MUST have if they want to qualify for Brazil. We currently don’t project Panama to win any road games, so dropping points at home could be disastrous. Honduras is a tough opponent, and this one should come down to the wire. We think Panama will have enough to squeak by.
Prediction: Panama by 1
Costa Rica vs. Jamaica – San Jose, Costa Rica
After starting with two games on the road, Costa Rica finally gets a home game against our lowest ranked CONCACAF Hex squad. It is very conceivable that Costa Rica could enter this game dead last in the standings with only 1 point. You can’t pass up this opportunity if you want to play in the World Cup. Costa Rica should come out guns blazing against a Jamaica side that actually is faring well after 2 matches. We think this is where the tide turns and Jamaica starts to fall towards the bottom.
Prediction: Costa Rica by 1
Mexico vs. USA – Mexico City, Mexico
This is the match every Mexican fan circles on their calendar. This match is even more significant because the last time these two teams met, the United States were claiming their first ever victory in the Azteca, despite it being only a friendly. As they say, there’s nothing friendly about it. You can be sure that game resonates with everyone who will be in that stadium. A special salute to the brave American fans who think it’s necessary to put themselves in harm’s way to root on the Stars and Stripes. I don’t see the USA striking gold again. This game will probably go like most of the USA’s trips to Mexico do.
Prediction: Mexico by 2
These matches will be interesting to watch as most of them project to be extremely close encounters. WGF will be back with a CONCACAF update following the 3rd round of matches. Be sure to check out everything else We Global Football has to offer on the website. Follow us on Twitter @We_Global and on Facebook!