With domestic action taking a break, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers resume on Friday with three matches taking place in the United States, Mexico, and Trinidad & Tobago.
All of a sudden there is a sense of urgency across the region, especially with the teams in the bottom of the table after slow starts in November. Trinidad and Tobago fits perfectly into that category, as does the U.S. Men’s National Team. At the top of the table, Mexico and Costa Rica will square off for Hex supremacy at the Estadio Azteca.
Here is a preview of all Friday’s action across CONCACAF.
Trinidad and Tobago vs. Panama (7 p.m. ET, beIN Sports)
In Friday’s early contest, Trinidad & Tobago will host Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain in a battle of fifth versus third. The hosts lost their opening two qualifiers in November, falling to Costa Rica 2-0 and Honduras 3-1. Dennis Lawrence’s side is home for March’s two qualifiers, and will hope to use that to its advantage against two strong opponents. Striker Kenwyne Jones and midfielder Kevin Molino are two players that Lawrence needs to get going for the Soca Warriors to have chance of qualifying for the next round.
Panama opened up qualifying in November with a 1-0 road win at Honduras before earning a hard-earned point against Mexico four days later. Los Canaleros feature a handful of veterans that should help their cause on the road. Roman Torres and Felipe Baloy should start in the back line, while midfielders Armando Cooper and Anibal Godoy should also start. Blas Perez is expected to get the nod up top, while former U.S. youth international Tony Taylor switched over to Panama and is on the roster.
Mexico vs. Costa Rica (8:50 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
Mexico kicked off its campaign in the Hex with a road win in Columbus over the USMNT before drawing in Panama. Juan Carlos Osorio will be without Giovani dos Santos, Marco Fabian, and Javier Aquino all due to injury for Friday’s match versus Costa Rica. However, sitting in second is a good place for ‘El Tri’ and they still have plenty of firepower available, including striker Javier Hernandez, and Raul Jimenez.
As for Costa Rica, the Ticos lead the Hex with six points after winning their first two Hex contests. Oscar Ramirez has a slew of talent at his disposal, and his team is coming off clean sheets against Trinidad & Tobago and the U.S.A. Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas is the top keeper in CONCACAF, while Vancouver’s Kendall Watson and New York City’s Ronald Matarrita should be in line to start defensively. Sporting’s Bryan Ruiz is a key contributor in midfield, while club teammate Joel Campbell netted twice against the U.S. back in November.