And then there were 12.
CONCACAF World Cup qualifying wrapped up second-round action and there were no surprises in the head-to-head phase of qualifying. The powerhouse countries we thought we would see advancing to the third round did just that (with Panama being the one team I was surprised to see knocked off) and now we can start looking to the third round of qualifying.
Here are the Groups for the next round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying:
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
Group 2 is unmercifully brutal, with a dangerous Jamaica team as the weakest in a loaded field. When you compare that group to Group 3 it’s almost criminal the disparity in strength. I would argue that every team in Group 2 would advance out of Group 3.
I really thought Panama was going to be in the mix. They showed so much promise in the last Gold Cup and to go from that to losing to El Salvador is shocking. Panama’s departure makes it that much more likely that Costa Rica will advance out of a week group that includes Haiti, which looked mediocre at best in last summer’s World Cup, and El Salvador, which played spoiler to Panama.
As for the U.S. team’s group, none of those teams pose a real threat to the Americans, though Trinidad & Tobago does have serious talent if it ever gets its act together. Cuba won’t be a pushover and Guatamala will be the favorite to join the USA in the Hexagonal.
My pick for the six are USA, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Haiti.
What do you think of the groups? What six teams do you see advancing to the Hex? Share your thoughts below