[WORLD CUP 2010]
With twelve teams divided into three groups, the Concacaf region (North and Central America and the Caribbean) begins the semifinal round of World Cup
qualifying on Wednesday. Marquee games on Wednesday include the USA's clash with Guatemala and Mexico's hosting of Honduras (TV
: Telemundo, 9 pm ET).
The top two finishers in each group advance to the six-team, home-and-home final round. The top three finishers in the final-round group qualify for South Africa 2010 and the fourth-place
finisher plays off with South America's No. 5 team for what could be Concacaf's fourth spot.
If the USA, which downed Barbados in a home-and-home series to advance to the
semifinal round, earns a spot in South Africa it will have played 18 qualifying games. GROUP A
The USA is the favorite by a longshot, but it begins with two
games on road: Wednesday vs. Guatemala and Sept. 6 vs. Cuba. A win against Guatemala, which always plays the Americans tough at home, would put them on a smooth course to advancing to the final
round. Guatemala is led by MLS star Carlos Ruiz
Trinidad & Tobago, aiming for a second straight World Cup appearance, travels to Cuba on Wednesday. The Cubans
have prepared with a 15-game tour of Germany, from where its coach, Reinhold Fanz
hails. GROUP B
Former England coach Sven Goran
makes his debut in official competition as Mexico's coach when El Tri hosts Honduras at Azteca Stadium. Eriksson has called in 12 foreign-based players, including the Chicago
Fire's Cuauhtemoc Blanco
In their last meeting, Honduras upset Mexico, 2-1, at the 2007 Gold Cup.
Mexico and Honduras last met in World Cup
qualifying in the 2002 campaign, when El Tri won, 3-0, at home but lost 3-1 in San Pedro Sula in what is considered one of Mexico's worst defeats.
Honduras' squad, which
features Inter Milan's David Suazo
, may be the strongest in its history.
Canada, led by Houston Dynamo playmaker Dwayne De Rosario
Jamaica, which has welcomed back Coach Rene Simoes
, who guided the Reggae Boyz to their only World Cup appearance, in 1998. GROUP C
two Central American teams to have reached the World Cup more than once meet on Wednesday when Costa Rica (1990, 2002, 2006) hosts El Salvador (1970, 1986).
El Salvador is coached
by Mexican Carlos de los Cobos
while Costa Rica, which has been in poor form, replaced Hernan Medford in June with Rodrigo Kenton
In the other
Group C opener, with Haiti hosts Suriname, which fields several players from the Dutch league.