World Cup: What will it take for the USA to qualify?

The USA's chances of going to the World Cup as the third-place team look a lot brighter after its 1-1 tie at Honduras.

How USA controls its own destiny: Because of its huge edge on Honduras on goal difference -- still at eight goals -- the USA should clinch if it sweeps its last two games against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago in October.

A win against Panama in Orlando and tie at T&T would likely even be enough unless Honduras swept its last two games against Costa Rica and Mexico.

What the USA has to avoid:
A loss at home to Panama. A loss to the Canaleros would leave the USA with fourth place -- and a November playoff -- as its only possible path to Russia.

Current Hex Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
10 (3) Panama 2-4-2 7/5 (+2)
9 (4) USA 2-3-3 12/11 (+1)
9 (5) Honduras 2-3-3 9/16 (-7)

Remaining games:
USA: PAN (h), at TRI (a).
HON: CRC (a), MEX (h).
PAN: TRI USA (a), CRC (h).

Some qualifying scenarios:
(U.S. results in order of games)
WW --> 15 points

HON max: 15 points
PAN max: 13 points
-- USA takes 3rd place, beats HON on GD
-- USA takes 3rd place, if HON doesn't sweep CRC & MEX
-- USA takes 4th place, loses to HON on GD

WT --> 13 points
HON max: 15 points
PAN max: 13 points
-- USA takes 3rd, (1) beats HON on GD if HON takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX or HON takes less than 4 points vs. CRC & MEX and (2) beats PAN on GD or PAN doesn't beat CRC.
-- USA takes 4th, (1) beats HON on GD if HON takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX or HON takes less than 4 points vs. CRC & MEX but (2) loses to PAN on GD.
-- USA takes 4th, (1) beats PAN on GD or beats PAN if it doesn't beat CRC but (2) loses to HON if it sweeps CRC & MEX or loses to HON on GD if HON takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX.
-- USA eliminated.

TW --> 13 points
HON max: 15 points
PAN max: 14 points
-- USA takes 3rd, (1) beats HON on GD if HON takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX or HON takes less than 3 points vs. CRC & MEX and (2) beats PAN if PAN doesn't beat CRC.
-- USA takes 4th, (1) beats HON on GD if HON takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX or HON takes less than 3 points vs. CRC & MEX but (2) loses to PAN if PAN beats CRC.
-- USA takes 4th, (1) beats PAN if PAN doesn't beat CRC but (2) loses to HON if HON sweeps CRC & MEX or loses to HON on GD if HON  takes 4 pts. vs. CRC & MEX.
-- USA eliminated.
6 comments about "World Cup: What will it take for the USA to qualify?".
  1. :: SilverRey ::, September 6, 2017 at 10:08 a.m.

    One more scenario puts us in 2nd place. We win out. Honduras claws out a CONCACAF victory in CR. Then Panama, playing for their WC lives wins at home vs CR. Goal dif comes into play, but it is possible.

  2. Scott O'Connor replied, September 6, 2017 at 10:48 a.m.

    Yes we could make 2nd. We need W-W, of course. Costa Rica would have to play experimental line-up and L-L to Honduras and then Panama. Both Panama and Honduras have something to play for in those games. Even if Panama loses to USA, they could still bag 4th if US doesn't draw at TNT or if Honduras loses to Mexico. So it's not inconceivable that CR could lose those games if they take them lightly having already guaranteed no worse than 3rd (due to huge Goal Diff with Honduras, there would have to be a 14-goal swing to bring Honduras over CR in tiebreaker).
    Currently, the GD for CR is +7 and is +1 for USA. If Costa Rica loses both games by 1 goal, that leaves them +5. The USA would have to win their 2 games by a total of 4 goals to reach +5. The next tiebreaker is goals scored. Currently, the USA and CR are tied with 12 goals. Presumably if CR loses 2 games and the USA wins 2 games by 4 goals, the USA will end up with more goals than CR. Or the USA needs to win their games by 5 goals or 4 goals but CR loses by -3. Basically the aggregate difference in the games must be 7 for the USA to surpass CR for 2nd. This is an odd scenario but given the USA's urgency to win it's games as well as Honduras and Panama to beat Costa Rica, it could happen.

  3. Scott O'Connor, September 6, 2017 at 10:12 a.m.

    Obviously the best way to qualify is to W-W. Honestly, if we can't beat Panama at home and beat 3-point TNT, we really have no business playing for the World Cup. Frankly the T-W or W-T scenarios open us up to collusion by Costa Rica and Mexico simply dropping their last two games to Panama and Honduras to "stick it to the Gringos." A prospect I don't care to see play out. There will be no Mexican Zusi saving our World Cup hopes in the 90th minute against Honduras in the final match, you can bank on that.

  4. Bret Newman, September 6, 2017 at 3:57 p.m.

    I hear what your saying Scott, but look how good Mexico played last World Cup. They had no business being in the WC either.

  5. Scott O'Connor replied, September 6, 2017 at 6:06 p.m.

    Yeah. Mexico was really underperforming during qualifying. Their idiocy in changing coaches with every 2 game imperfect streak contributed to that. I say we don't belong if we lose knowing that we are good enough to be there and that we really shouldn't fail to qualify. More of a way to not be worried about this situation when you think about it rationally.

  6. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 7, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    I think what Mexico last cycle showed is that even a poor qualifying tournament doesn't mean anything come the actual world cup. Mexico did well in Brazil and hopefully we will do well in Russia if we get there.

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