What USA needs to do to directly qualify for the World Cup

The USA moved back into third place in the Hexagonal with its 4-0 win over Panama that certainly made its path to Russia a lot easier.

Hexagonal Standings:
12 (3) USA 3-3-3 16/11
10 (4) Panama 2-4-3 7/9
9 (5) Honduras 2-3-3 9/16

Here's what it needs to do to directly qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday night when it wraps up the Hexagonal at Trinidad Tobago.

1. Win and clinch (99.99% certain).
Honduras would need to beat Costa Rica on Saturday and Mexico on Tuesday and make up the 12-goal advantage the USA has (plus the margin the USA beat T&T).

It will never happen in a million years.

2. Tie and likely clinch.
The USA leapfrogged Panama with Friday's win. Even more important, it built up a huge cushion on goal difference that it should allow it finish ahead of Panama in case of a tie against T&T.

The USA went from minus-1 against Panama to plus-7 with each goal adding two goals in its favor. Panama would need to beat Costa Rica by eight goals to overtake the USA. No es posible.

What USA has to look out for: Honduras would still have a shot, but that would depend on the Catrachos sweeping Costa Rica away on Saturday and Mexico on Tuesday. That would be a tall order. And if it happened, the USA would take fourth place.

3. Lose and all is not lost.

If the USA lost to Trinidad & Tobago, it would still have a shot at finishing third ahead of Panama and Honduras.

Panama is now in the position of having to beat Costa Rica at home to have any chance of overtaking the USA. A Panama tie or loss would assure the USA of finishing ahead of the Canaleros even if it lost to T&T.

Honduras is under pressure to win and tie or sweep when it faces Costa Rica and Mexico. Three points or less won't be enough to overtake the USA, given the USA's huge edge in goal difference.

Worst-case scenario? USA loses to Trinidad & Tobago, Panama beats Costa Rica and Honduras takes four or six points against Costa Rica and Mexico. It would be eliminated.
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