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Four numbers to remember
by Paul Kennedy, September 5th, 2013 6:38PM
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TAGS:  men's national team


[COSTA RICA-USA] What are the chances of the USA clinching a berth in the World Cup finals with a win over Costa Rica? What's the U.S. qualifying history against the Ticos in Costa Rica, its yellow card situation and its current winning streak? Here's a look at the four numbers you'll need to know to follow Costa Rica-USA ...

The chances that the USA will clinch a berth in the World Cup 2014 finals on Friday night. Out of 27 possible outcomes to the three Hexagonal matches, two will send the USA on to Brazil: a win over Costa Rica, a Mexico-Honduras tie in Mexico City and either a Panama-Jamaica tie or Jamaica win in Panama City. If it did clinch, it would be only the second time a team has clinched a berth in the finals after Matchday 7 of the Hexagonal. The USA did it in 2005 with its 2-0 win over Mexico.

Costa Rica has won the last seven times it has hosted the USA in World Cup 2014 qualifying. Significantly, all seven games were played at Saprissa Stadium, which Costa Rica hoped to use Friday night but was deemed unplayable. The only other time the Ticos hosted the USA in World Cup qualifying was in 1985 when they played to a 1-1 tie in Alajuela.

Costa Rica-USA Qualifying:
2009 Costa Rica 3-1
2005 Costa Rica 3-0
2001 Costa Rica 2-0
2000 Costa Rica 2-1
1997 Costa Rica 3-2
1996 Costa Rica 2-1
1989 Costa Rica 1-0

Eight players with the USA in Costa Rica carry yellow cards into Friday's game. If any of them pick up a card against the Ticos, they'll sit out Tuesday's match against Mexico in Columbus.

Card carriers:
Jozy Altidore
Matt Besler
Michael Bradley
Geoff Cameron
Clint Dempsey
Tim Howard
Fabian Johnson
Jermaine Jones

The USA carries a 12-game winning streak into Friday's game, its longest winning streak ever and the longest active streak in the world. A win over Costa Rica would move the USA to within two games of the world record winning streak held by Spain. (UAE's 10-game winning streak was snapped Thursday when it tied Trinidad & Tobago, 3-3, at a tournament in Riyadh.)

  1. Eric Schmitt
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 9:22 a.m.
    Am I missing something? Doing the math, it seems like the best the US could do tonight is be 8 points up on 4th place, with 3 matches left. That doesn't clinch a spot. Is there something I'm missing with matchups that could be affecting something?
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
    Eric I ask the same question. TO me MEX beating HON is a better outcome pointwise...
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.
    I am pretty sure with a US win & a Honduras loss, and either a Pan/Jam tie or Jamaica win, we would be 9 points clear of fourth place. (16 - 7 pts) To me that looks like the best position we could be in after tonight, so I agree with you, I'm not seeing how we clinch.
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.
    My guess is that for HON to get 9 points from the last 3 games, it means someone else is getting 0 and that keeps the US in the top 3.
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.
    There is no scenario that qualifies the US after today's game. I worked through the possible scenarios. Both need US wins and I assumed a PAN/JAM tie. In the MEX wins scenario here's the scenarios that allow the US to finish 4th (and thus require a playoff to get into Brazil): US Loses next 3 games to MEX, JAM, PAN. The HON/PAN match creates a double possibility. One of those teams has to win to be able to knock off the USA. Whichever team wins, then wins their last 2 games to get to 16 points to tie the USA. If that team is HON, then HON beats CRC leaving CRC to beat MEX (who beat PAN) on the last day to jump to 17. MEX gets to 17 by beating USA and PAN. If the team is PAN, then PAN beats MEX next, leaving MEX to beat CRC (who beat HON) to get to 17 points.
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.
    Actually, I think I was wrong. IT's true in the MEX beats HON scenario above that the USA can't clinch but looking carefully at the MEX-HON tie scenario. It does ensure the USA finishes third or tied for second at the worst.... MY bad.

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