By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Men’s National Team wasn’t the only CONCACAF nation to secure a berth in the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday evening.
Costa Rica earned a place in next summer’s tournament in Brazil thanks to a 2-2 draw between Honduras and Panama as well as the USA 2-0 victory over Mexico. The Ticos qualified despite drawing themselves, 1-1, against Jamaica.
Heading into stoppage time in their respective games, both Honduras and Costa Rica were just moments away from earning pivotal victories in their quest to qualify. But both the Catrachos and the Ticos would concede just seconds before the final whistle to succumb to dropped points.
In Kingston, Jamaica, it took 75 minutes before the visiting Costa Rican side could break the deadlock. With regular starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts missing due to yellow card accumulation, Jamaica’s Richard McCallum failed to guard his near post, allowing Costa Rica substitute Randall Brenes to finish off the post and across the line.
Despite going down a goal, the Jamaicans fought back for their new coach, Winfried Schäfer, and earned a late equalizer to the delight of their home crowd. A long ball played from the left side of the field needed just a touch, which is just what Jermaine Anderson did in the second minute of stoppage time.
The draw keeps Jamaica’s microscopic chances of reaching the World Cup alive, though they will need to win their remaining two matches along with getting a lot of help from the rest of the group. The Reggae Boyz need Mexico and Panama to tie their next match against each other at Estadio Azteca, and both of them to lose their final round matches.
In the other World Cup qualifier in Central America, Honduras hosted Panama with hopes to pull away from Mexico. Catrachos striker Carlo Costly scored the game’s opener in the 27th minute, but Panama would manage to equalize on the other side of halftime in the 49th minute on a terrific effort by forward Gabriel Torres.
Honduras took the lead once more when midfielder Wilson Palacios delicately chipped Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo in the 61st minute. Though the Canaleros were pushing for another goal, Honduras was doing just enough every time to keep Panama from establishing enough rhythm.
But in 90th-minute stoppage time, left back Luis Henriquez played a wonderful curling effort that found the foot of young defender Roberto Chen, who scored arguably the biggest goal of his career to level the scoreline at 2-2.
The goal keeps Panama’s slim qualification hopes alive, and they’ll have a chance to make a huge statement to the region and world when they play their next qualifier at Estadio Azteca against Mexico on October 11.
Here are the CONCACAF HEXAGONAL standings through eight rounds:
*1. USA…………………..16 points
*2. Costa Rica…………15 points
3. Honduras………….11 points
4. Mexico………………..8 points
5. Panama……………….8 points
6. Jamaica………………4 points
(*- Qualified for 2014 World Cup)
What do you think of these results? See Honduras holding on to the third spot? Think Panama overtakes Mexico for the playoff spot?
Share your thoughts below.
Where can I find highlights of the Panama-Honduras match? I’ve looked, and can’t find it.
“Think Mexico overtakes Panama for the playoff spot?”
Fixed that for you. As mentioned downthread, Panama is ahead on goals scored.
It will be interesting to see just who JK brings in for games the US does not need to win. I suspect that the US will win vs Jamaica no matter who plays for the US (within reason), but Panama could be a tough game in Panama. There will need to be some toughness and resolve for the US to win that game (of course, our B team did handle their A team in the Gold Cup). It would not surprise me if JK did a LOT of twiddling with the lineup for each of those games.
If Mexico misses the WC due to a US loss to Panama, there will be tons of conspiracy theories popping up in Mexico.
Many teams after clinching qualification, especially playing in their last meaningless game, never put out their A team. It’s really not worth risking any injury. If Mexico complains about this, well, they should have simply done better during the qualification cycle. If anything, Mexico will probably try in influence Costa to start their F team.
I can’t remember b/c it’s been 4 years, but don’t the Confederation Group winners get an automatic seed for the WC drawing? If so, winning the group should be priority number 1.
It’s according to the crazy FIFA ranking list. If the U.S. wins their group, it will be the third straight time they have done so. So winning your group in qualifying, qualifying for the Confederations Cup or even winning it does not guarantee anything. In 2006 the U.S. won their group and the Gold Cup and México got one of the top seeds, which they did not deserve. The U.S. had even gone to the quarter finals in 2002. The U.S. is too low in the rankings for FIFA to give them a spot now. The U.S. will need to do well in this World Cup and in qualifying next time around to have a shot.
Just for your information…Panama played with their B team in the gold cup
I don’t think Panama’s chances for qualification are any slimmer than Mexico’s. I’d rather host the USA the final game than go to Costa Rica. Honduras plays Jamaica MD10, so they’re pretty much set for 3rd. If Panama gets a draw in Azteca (and who doesn’t), then they probably go into the last day as the favorites for the playoff spot.
If Panama is able to work out a draw at Azteca, that last qualifying day will be fascinating. Mex at CR and Panama hosting USA, with Mexico and Panama tied on goal differential. Wow. What would a US supporter, Mexico hater be rooting for? A bad loss by the US could knock Mexico out of the World Cup!
The path for Panama is actually clearer than Mexico. Go to Azteca, stay compact and bunker in, and get that 0-0 tie. Then go home and beat the US squad to go to the World Cup while Mexico would have to go on the road and beat CR, which no one has done yet.
Feel bad for Mexico, but it’s up to Panana to decide their fate. They have knocked on the door a lot, it would be great to see them bust it in.
I don’t have anything against Mexico either, and I will support all Concacaf teams next summer in WC 2014. But I gotta say, Mexico at the current time is, to put it bluntly, awful. Absolutely no team spirit, seems totally disorganized and no camaraderie and like every man for himself. After about 20 minutes of the game, it was clear to me that they weren’t going to be able to beat the USMNT. The blame for this mess has to be the Mexico football association for not firing Chepo sooner. He should have been let go after the March draw with the USMNT, but at the very latest in June. It was obvious he was no longer connecting to the players. So, yeah, I also would be glad to see Panama claim the fourth slot, or even Jamaica pulling off a miracle with their new German coach, who seems to have injected some life into the Boyz. Jamaica will give a good fight I bet in October to the USMNT, as will Panama.
Congrats to Costa Rica. They are a very good team.
Indeed they are. I hope Campbell gets a wicked case of the clap.
This all turned out better than I could have hoped.
We lose to Costa Rica- this was actually a necessary cleansing- we needed to get a grip on reality after the 12 game win streak, which was great, but meant that we could overlook serious problems, peak too soon, and struggle to adjust when things didn’t go our way in Brazil. Now we can build and tweak what is looking like a very strong, deep squad.
Losing the players was awful, but we survived it, tested our depth, and got the oh so b!tchn dos a cero scoreline we know and love. And we qualified, and we’re back on top of the group.
But dear god, what the hell is wrong with Mexico? This runs deeper than any one problem or strategic move.
I’d ask for my money back, if I were you.
1. USA 16
2. CR 15
3. Honduras 11
4. Panama 8
5. Mexico 8
6. Jamaica 4
Yes, this is the correct order… MEXICO is 5th and PANAMA is 4th currently based on goals scored.
Correct. If qualification ended today, Mexico would be out of the world cup, not even getting the luxury of visiting Morrrr-dor.
Fred Nash, you are my hero