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World Cup Qualifying

CONCACAF WCQ Preview: Canada-Mexico, Jamaica-Costa Rica headline action

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

While the U.S. Men’s National Team has two meetings with Guatemala on the docket in the coming days, Mexico-Canada headlines action elsewhere in the region.

El Tri enters Friday’s meeting against the Canucks atop Group A with six points through two games. Canada has four points, and will be looking to potentially top Mexico with a win at BC Place.

In Kingston, Jamaica hosts Costa Rica in Group B’s most intriguing contest. The Reggae Boyz will be hoping to be level on points with its foe after earning three through the team’s first two games.

Around the region, El Salvador hosts Honduras, Haiti plays Panama and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines welcomes Trinidad and Tobago to Kingstown.

Here’s a closer look at Friday’s World Cup qualifying games in CONCACAF:

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines vs. Trinidad and Tobago
(3:30 p.m., Fox Deportes)

The island nations will meet in the capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but visiting Trinidad and Tobago is the favorite to earn all three points in Friday’s first qualifying game.

Oalex Anderson, who recently signed for the Seattle Sounders, has scored once in this round of the competition and will lead the front line of the home side alongside Tevin Slater.

Slater, 22, has made 12 appearances for his nation since his first call-up in 2014, and has scored eight goals.

On the other side of the ball, T&T boasts a sturdy defense and dynamic offense that is sure to test Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Forward and captain Kenwyne Jones will be looking for his second goal of the round after scoring against Guatemala in November. The 31-year-old will lead the charge up front, while Sheldon Bateau will likely get the nod from head coach Stephen Hart to start in the center of the back line.

Bateau and company held the U.S. to zero goals at home, so a road shutout is certainly feasible if T&T’s defense lives up to its billing.

Haiti vs. Panama
(7 p.m. – beIN Sports, beIN Sports Connect)

Haiti has the talent to cause problems, but a win at home against Panama is a must if they want to take part in the “Hex” next year.

The Haitians were one of the surprise teams of the 2015 Gold Cup, finishing in second place in their group with the U.S., Panama and Honduras. Yet, Haiti currently has zero points through two games, and has yet to score a goal. The island nation suffered a 1-0 road loss to Costa Rica before falling by that same scoreline at home to Jamaica.

Duckens Nazon was the star for Haiti last year, but he has not found the back of the net thus far.

Panama will be hoping to keep Nazon off the scoresheet to earn its second shutout of the round. The Panamanians only have three points through two games, but sit in second in the group due to their +1 goal differential.

Sounders defender Roman Torres will serve as the team’s honorary captain, but will also not play due to injury. Veteran Felipe Baloy will likely be called upon to be the leader on the back line, while Anibal Godoy will be tasked with scoring the goals to dash Haitian hopes of advancing.

Jamaica vs. Costa Rica
(8 p.m. – beIN Sports Connect)

Group B’s leader heads to the Caribbean in order to earn three more points on Friday.

Costa Rica has six points after two games, which includes a crucial 2-1 win vs. Panama in Panama City.

Los Ticos are led by captain Bryan Ruiz, who scored one of the goals against Panama, while Marco Ureña netted the other. Joel Campbell and Ureña will likely be the ones scoring the goals for the visiting side.

The Reggae Boyz enter the meeting with their only goal coming against Haiti. Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is expected to start for Jamaica, while 32-year-old Clayton Donaldson will likely get the nod to be the main striker up front.

El Salvador vs. Honduras
(9:06 p.m. – Telemundo, beIN Sports Connect, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra)

Two of Central America’s best go head-to-head in Group A, and both need all three points.

El Salvador hosts Honduras in San Salvador, and a win is vital for the potential progression of both teams. El Salvador currently has one point through two games, as it was held to a scoreless draw at home vs. Canada, and Honduras sits last in the group with no points.

Los Catrachos struggled in last year’s Gold Cup, and that form has carried over into World Cup qualification. Honduras is now in a hole after losing to both Mexico and Canada. Erick Andino and Rubilio Castillo were the forwards tasked with scoring the goals in the first two matchups, but failed to produce one against formidable defenses. Jorge Luis Pinto will hope players like Andy Najar step up to the occasion to keep hopes of advancement alive.

El Salvador, meanwhile, may opt to use 21-year-old Jose Peña up front, as Los Cuscatlecos are also looking for their first goal of the round.

Canada vs. Mexico
(10:06 p.m. – UniMas, Univision Deportes)

Canada has yet to give up a goal in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but that statistic could very well change in Vancouver.

El Tri heads north to play Canada in the Group A opponents’ first meeting of the round, and Mexico is coming into the contest in great form.

Mexico, which has also yet to concede a goal thus far, has scored five. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández did not net any of those goals in the first two games, but can be expected to cause problems for the Canucks.

If Canada is to walk away from Friday’s encounter with any points, it will most likely be up to in-form striker Cyle Larin to provide at least one goal. The Orlando City SC forward has already netted three times to start the MLS season, and will hope his club form carries over into international action.

4 comments
  • Lost in Space

    Would love for Canada to skin points off Mexico. If Canada ever gets their act together they could make the Hex interesting again.

    Like

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