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The USA's winning formula
by Paul Kennedy, June 11th, 2009 7AM



[HEXAGONAL] Qualifying for the World Cup is a relatively straightforward process: win all your home games and take the odd point on the road and you should go through. It's been a winning formula for the USA in the last three Hexagonals, where three of the six teams advance to the finals. With that in mind, the USA's entirely forgettable performance at Costa Rica is irrelevant. Winning its three home games and earning a point with a late comeback in El Salvador put the USA in reasonably good shape at the halfway point of Concacaf's final round of 2010 World Cup qualifying.

Mexico is not in as bad a position as it appears, having three home games left on the schedule. Its three losses on the road, though, mean that it has only two games left to gain away points.

The battle between the USA and Mexico may not be decided when they meet Aug. 12 at Azteca Stadium but how they fare when they travel to Trinidad & Tobago later in the year.

Costa Rica has already won at T&T and Honduras earned a 2-2 on its trip to the lone Caribbean entrant in the Hexagonal.

The USA's other chance to take points on the road will come on Day 9 when it travels to Honduras. Its 2-1 win in San Pedro Sula eight years ago was key to its qualification for the 2002 World Cup. A win or tie at Honduras on Oct. 10 could clinch the USA's sixth consecutive appearance at the World Cup.

Costa Rica: 0 (home) +3 (away) = +3
USA: 0 (home) +1 (away) = +1
Honduras: 0 (home) + 1 (away) = +1
Mexico: 0 (home) 0 (away) = -1
El Salvador: -4 (home) 0 (away) = -4
Trinidad & Tobago: -5 (home) +1 (away) = -4

Costa Rica 5 4 0 1 9 5 12
United States 5 3 1 1 10 6 10
Honduras 5 2 1 2 6 6 7
Mexico 5 2 0 3 6 8 6
El Salvador 5 1 2 2 6 7 5
Trin. & Tobago 5 0 2 3 6 11 2
(The top three teams advance to World Cup 2010; the fourth-place team faces the fifth-place team from South America in a playoff.)

August 12
Honduras-Costa Rica
Mexico-United States
Trin. & Tobago-El Salvador
September 5
Costa Rica-Mexico
Honduras-Trin. & Tobago
United States-El Salvador
September 9
Trin. & Tobago-United States
El Salvador-Costa Rica
October 10
Honduras-United States
Mexico-El Salvador
Costa Rica-Trin. & Tobago
October 14
El Salvador-Honduras
Trin. & Tobago-Mexico
United States-Costa Rica

February 11
USA 2 (Bradley 43, 90) Mexico 0
El Salvador 2 (Romero 79, 90) Trin. & Tobago 2 (Edwards 7, Yorke 27-pen)
Costa Rica 2 (Furtado 48, 59) Honduras 0
March 28
Trin. & Tobago 1 (Guerra 89) Honduras 1 (Pavon 50)
Mexico 2 (Bravo 19, Pardo 52-pen) Costa Rica 0
El Salvador 2 (Quintanilla 15, Castillo 72), USA 2 (Altidore 77, Hejduk 88)
April 1
United States 3 (Altidore 13, 71, 89) Trin. & Tobago 0
Honduras 3 (Costly 17, 78, Pavon 43) Mexico 1 (Castillo 81-pen)
Costa Rica 1 (Centeno 69) El Salvador 0
June 6
Trin. & Tobago 2 (Edwards 29, Samuels 62) Costa Rica 3 (Saborio 40, Borges 52, 68)
United States 2 (Donovan 43-pen, Bocanegra 68) Honduras 1 (Costly 5)
El Salvador 2 (Martinez 11, Quintanilla 86-pen) Mexico 1 (Blanco 71-pen)
June 10
June 3
Costa Rica 3 (Saborio 1, Borges 12, Herrera 68) United States 1 (Donovan (90-pen).
Mexico 2 (Franco 1, Rojas 48) Trin. & Tobago 1 (Tinto 45).
Honduras 1 (Pavon 14) El Salvador 0.


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