The first day of the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying saw every away team win. Panama won on a stellar free kick goal over Honduras. Costa Rica scored a pair of second half goals to sink Trinidad and Tobago. Finally, dos a cero came to an end thanks to Mexico knocking of the United States in Columbus.
Three more matches grace our screens on Tuesday night as the losing teams look to avoid disastrous zero point starts through two matches.
CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: The Hex- Matchday Two
- Costa Rica- 3 pts.- +2 GD
- Mexico- 3 pts.- +1 GD
- Panama- 3 pts.- +1 GD
- United States- 0 pts.- -1 GD
- Trinidad and Tobago- 0 pts.- -1 GD
- Honduras- 0 pts.- -2 GD
Honduras v. Trinidad and Tobago- 5:05pm
This is the only matchup of the day featuring two losing teams from day one. Honduras has the upper hand here by virtue of being at home in their often hostile environment. Had it not been for a stupendous free kick from Fidel Escobar, they may even had escaped with a point. By most accounts, they were the better team on the day. The only thing they couldn’t do was push a goal across the line.
Trinidad and Tobago, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going at home against Costa Rica. It’s conceivable to think that they will struggle even more going away. Although they held out for more than an hour before conceding, they were completely outplayed in that match. Honduras may not have the skill of Costa Rica, but they so have some talent up front that can penetrate T&T’s back line.
I like Honduras to get all three points here due to their hostile home field advantage and Trinidad and Tobago’s unfortunate form that has seen them lose four consecutive international matches.
Panama v. Mexico- 9:05pm
Panama got themselves a surprising win over Honduras on the road. Although they may not have been the better team for much of the match, three points is three points no matter how it comes. They are heading home to face the toughest opponent in CONCACAF. They will have to be the best team on the field if they hope to scrounge up any positive result.
Mexico is perhaps in the best form they have ever been in. Since Juan Carlos Osorio took this team over, they have only lost one match. They have broken the spell of dos a cero and are looking to carry over that good fortune into Panama City. They were given a difficult start to the Hex with a trip to Columbus and now this match in Central America, but if any squad is up for the challenge, it is certainly El Tri.
As stated earlier, Mexico has never played better. They are winning every match they play in and Tuesday night shouldn’t be any different. I like them to take three points and carry on with their perfect start on their way to Russia.
Costa Rica v. United States- 9:05pm- beIN Sports
Costa Rica see themselves with a wonderful opportunity. After getting an away win at group minnows Trinidad and Tobago, they will now host an American team that can never get a result in San Jose. Costa Rica has won eight of nine home matches against the USMNT in their history and that non-win was a draw in 1985. Add in that history to the fact that Costa Rica are a very good team in their own right and you have the recipe for a poor start to the Hex for the USA and a dream opening for Los Ticos.
The United States has dug themselves into a hole and aren’t likely to dig out of it here. Jurgen Klinsmann will have to stop trying to be the smartest man in the game if he hopes to salvage a point or three to open the final round of qualifying. Experimental tactics and unclear coaching will only cost him when he desperately needs a win. A loss here will only increase the calls for his termination that have sprung up after every defeat in the last several years.
Unfortunately for American supporters, I think there will be plenty of fans calling for Klinsmann’s head after Tuesday night. I look for Costa Rica to pull this one out. It won’t be an easy win, but the lack of cohesion from whatever team Klinsmann throws out there will hurt them as they try to rescue this first international break of the Hex.