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What the USA must do to clinch
by Paul Kennedy, September 6th, 2009 7AM



[HEXAGONAL] With its 2-1 win over El Salvador, the USA's path to the 2010 World Cup became clearer. It continues on to Port of Spain, where the need for a result against Trinidad & Tobago Wednesday became even more critical because of Mexico's 3-0 win at Costa Rica on Saturday.

All the USA has to do is match Costa Rica's performance on Wednesday -- the Ticos are on the road at Trinidad & Tobago -- and beat Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C., and it will clinch no worse than third place in the Hexagonal and a sixth straight berth in the World Cup finals. (The result of the Oct. 10 game at Honduras wouldn't matter.)

On the other hand, a Costa Rica win in San Salvador and U.S. tie or loss in Port of Spain (where the Ticos have already won) will mean a U.S. win at home against Costa Rica might not be enough to avoid fourth place and a playoff against South America's fifth-place team in November.

Honduras 7 4 1 2 14 7 13
USA 7 4 1 2 13 9 13
Mexico 7 4 0 3 11 9 12
Costa Rica 7 4 0 3 9 12 12
El Salvador 7 1 2 4 7 10 5
Trin. & Tobago 7 1 2 4 8 15 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 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


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