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Mark Sept. 9 on your calendar
by Paul Kennedy, August 13th, 2009 7AM
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[ANALYSIS] The point the USA gained at El Salvador in March thanks a pair of very late goals looms bigger and bigger. The Hexagonal's big four -- Costa Rica, Honduras, the USA and Mexico in order of their current placements -- has held serve against each other at home. If that form prevails, how they'll finish -- the first three to South Africa, the fourth team into a two-game playoff against South America's No. 5 team -- will come down to how they do at the Hexagonal's bottom feeders, El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago.

-- The USA holds the edge on Mexico, having taken a point at El Salvador while the Tri fell, 2-1, on a late and controversial penalty kick. Costa Rica and Honduras travel to San Salvador on Sept. 5 and Oct. 14.

-- Similarly, Costa Rica and Honduras won and tied at T&T, respectively, putting the pressure on the USA and Mexico to match those results. The Americans get their chance to knock off the Soca Warriors on Sept. 9, while Mexico must wait until the final day of qualifying, on Oct. 14.

It should be remembered that twice before wins at T&T have helped send the USA to the World Cup --the famous 1-0 win (thanks to Paul Caligiuri's goal) on the last day of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup and a 2-1 victory (goals by Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis) to open the final round of qualifying four years ago.

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

September 5
Costa Rica-Mexico
Honduras-Trin. & Tobago
USA-El Salvador
September 9
Trin. & Tobago- USA
El Salvador-Costa Rica
October 10
Honduras- USA
Mexico-El Salvador
Costa Rica-Trin. & Tobago
October 14
El Salvador-Honduras
Trin. & Tobago-Mexico
USA-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
USA 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)
USA 2 (Donovan 43-pen, Bocanegra 68) Honduras 1 (Costly 5)
El Salvador 2 (Martinez 11, Quintanilla 86-pen) Mexico 1 (Blanco 71-pen)
June 3&10
Costa Rica 3 (Saborio 1, Borges 12, Herrera 68) USA 1 (Donovan (90-pen).
Mexico 2 (Franco 1, Rojas 48) Trin. & Tobago 1 (Tinto 45).
Honduras 1 (Pavon 14) El Salvador 0.
Aug. 12
Mexico 2 (Castro 19, Sabah 82) USA 1 (Davies 9).
Honduras 1 (Costly 30, 90, Pavon 50, M.Valladares 89) Costa Rica 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 1 (Glen 6) El Salvador 0.

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