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Suspense will go down to final day
by Paul Kennedy, September 13th, 2012 12:51AM
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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup


[WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING] While the USA is in good shape to qualify for next year's Hexagonal, it will go down to the final day of play of the semifinal stage on Oct. 16  to determine the two teams that will advance from Group A. Only once in the previous four semifinal stages has the USA needed a result on the final day of play.

The current Concacaf format of 12 teams competing in three four-team groups to determine the six teams to play in the final round of qualifying was adopted for the 1998 World Cup.

Here's how the USA has fared:

1998 QUALIFYING. The USA won its first three games in qualifying for France '98, lost to Costa Rica, 2-1 on the road, then clinched a berth in the final round with a game to spare when it beat Costa Rica, 2-1, in their rematch at Stanford Stadium. Starting for the national team for the first time in place of the suspended Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride scored the first goal.

2002 QUALIFYING. After getting off to its worst start to qualifying in the modern era with a 1-1 tie with Guatemala and 2-1 loss to Costa Rica, the USA went down to the final game of semifinal round needing a win at Barbados to advance to the Hexagonal. A win over the Ticos in their fifth game would have clinched a berth in the final round, but the Americans, who had three players and head coach Bruce Arena suspended, could only manage a 0-0 tie in Columbus. Playing again without the suspended Claudio Reyna and injured John O'Brien, the USA brought in Tab Ramos for his 80th and final match. The game was still tied 0-0 in the 63rd minute when Clint Mathis put the USA ahead with his first international goal and the Americans went on to win, 4-0.

2006 QUALIFYING. The semifinal qualifying campaign held in 2004 marked the first time the Americans went unbeaten with four wins and two ties. But they needed lucky escapes to earn their two ties on the road. The Americans trailed Jamaica, 1-0, in the 89th minute of their first game when sub Brian Ching equalized with his first international goal. Two games later, the USA traveled to Panama City, where it needed a goal from Cobi Jones two minutes into stoppage time to earn a 1-1 tie. A 6-0 win over the Canaleros at Washington's RFK Stadium clinched a berth in the 2007 Hexagonal with a game to spare. Sub Eddie Johnson scored a hat trick in an 18-minute span in the second half.

2010 QUALIFYING. Four wins in its first four games were enough to send the United States through to the Hexagonal. The USA opened with its first two games on the road but earned 1-0 wins at Guatemala and Cuba. The Americans clinched with a 6-1 win over Cuba at Washington's RFK Stadium. The Cubans never had a chance. Two players, Pedro Faife and Reynier Alcantara, defected before the game, and midfielder Yoel Colome was sent off in the 41st minute. The game also ended a tug of war between the U.S. and Mexican federations as Mexican-American Jose Torres' appearance off the bench tied him to the USA.

Group A
7 USA (6-4)
7 Guatemala (6-4)
7 Jamaica (4-3)
1 Antigua & Barbuda (2-7)

Oct. 12
Antigua & Barbuda-USA   
Oct. 16
Jamaica-Antigua & Barbuda   

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
    Nice review of our preliminary round history. It rarely goes as easily as it should, it would seem.
  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 13, 2012 at 10:44 p.m.
    The current "Concacaf" format utilized in SA articles is grammatically incorrect! Please either spell it out or use CONCACAF as an acronym.

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