CONCACAF WCQ Preview: Mexico faces road test, Costa Rica deals with injuries, and more

CONCACAF WCQ Preview: Mexico faces road test, Costa Rica deals with injuries, and more

CONCACAF

CONCACAF WCQ Preview: Mexico faces road test, Costa Rica deals with injuries, and more

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As the U.S. prepares for its FIFA World Cup qualifying game against Trinidad and Tobago tonight, 10 fellow CONCACAF members will square off against each other looking to leave this international break in a comfortable position before resuming qualifying action again in four months.

Mexico relished a successful debut under new manager Juan Carlos Osorio last Friday, but it will face a tough challenge ahead when it visits Honduras. Canada, meanwhile, will try to build upon the confidence it gained from a 1-0 win last week when it travels to El Salvador.

Costa Rica and Jamaica are both on the road as well, going up against Panama and Haiti, respectively. Los Ticos picked up 1-0 win in its opener while Jamaica looks to rebound from a 2-0 loss.

Here is a closer look at these World Cup qualifying games within the CONCACAF today:

HONDURAS vs. MEXICO

(4 p.m. — beIN Sports USA/beIN Sports Connect/Telemundo/NBC Universo/NBC Deportes en Vivo Extras)

Mexico has not enjoyed visiting Honduras for decades.

It has been 50 years and 22 contests since El Tri last won a game in San Pedro Sula and in order for Mexico to break that spell today, it would have to overcome the weather and the hostile environment at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano.

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s with high humidity by game time and the 37,325 capacity crowd is sure to create an unfriendly atmosphere for the visitors.

For Juan Carlos Osorio, a couple of tactical changes could include starting Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera over Moisés Muñoz and resting someone like Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez until the latter stages of the contest for fresh legs. In that case, Carlos Vela could get the nod to start up front after notching a goal for El Tri last Friday against El Salvador.

As for Los Catrachos, MLS players such as Maynor Figueroa, Luis Garrido and Boniek Garcia are all expected to be featured in Jorge Luis Pinto’s starting XI in what is most likely going to be a 4-4-2 formation.

PANAMA vs. COSTA RICA

(8:30 p.m. — beIN Sports Connect/NBC Deportes en Vivo Extra)

Costa Rica’s win in its World Cup qualifying opener came at a heavy price.

Already without arguably its best player in goalkeeper Keylor Navas (groin), Costa Rica also lost midfielder Celso Borges, who suffered a leg injury during the game against Haiti, along with forward Johan Venegas and defender Oscar Duarte.

This amount of absentees leaves the Group B favorite in a compromising position against a Panama squad that surprised many with a 2-0 win over Jamaica last Friday. Los Ticos may need to rely on someone like Joel Campbell to take over the offensive load in Panama City and try to solve Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who is returning from serving a suspension.

EL SALVADOR vs. CANADA

(8:30 p.m. — beIN Sports USA/beIN Sports Connect/NBC Universo/NBC Deportes en Vivo Extra)

It may only be just the second match in the fourth round of the qualifying process, but Canada certainly has a reason to be optimistic about its prospects.

After picking up a 1-0 win over Honduras on Friday, the Canadians have a chance to stay atop Group A with a win at El Salvador before competition resumes in March.

The two sides last met at this summer’s Gold Cup, playing to a 0-0 draw in the group stage. A slightly more matured Cyle Larin, who scored in the game against Honduras, along with the addition of Junior Hoilett are sure to tip the scale toward Les Rouges’ favor.

HAITI vs. JAMAICA

(6 p.m. — beIN Sports Connect)

If Jamaica wants to rebound from its disappointing loss last week, it would have to do so without some of its best players on Tuesday.

Expected absentees for the Reggae Boyz in their game against Caribbean neighbor Haiti include Garath McCleary, Alvas Powell, captain Rodolph Austin, Giles Barnes and Simon Dawkins.

McCleary and Powell are both out with undisclosed injuries while Dawkins had to return home to England for personal reasons. Austin and Barnes, on the other hand, will be rested to avoid risking injuries on the artificial turf at Stade Sylvio Cator.

Darren Mattocks’ involvement on the offensive end will most likely be further amplified in that case while Je-Vaughn Watson will be asked to do most of the build-up from the midfield.

Haiti and Jamaica met months ago in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup, where the Boyz picked up a 1-0 win before going on to lose in the tournament final.

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES vs. GUATEMALA

(2:30 p.m. — beIN Sports Connect/NBC Deportes en Vivo Extra)

With Group C leaders U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago going at it tonight, both St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Guatemala will look to take advantage of the opportunity and pick up some crucial points to stay in the race.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines pieced together some competitive soccer in the early going last Friday against the U.S. before its defense started to get picked apart. Guatemala, on the other hand, gave up two second-half goals after keeping pace with T&T for a little over an hour on the pitch.

Guatemala will hope the connection between midfielder Marco Pappa and forward Carlos Ruiz would have better success this time around to generate some offense while SVG looks to avoid the similar fate it suffered in the 2011 WCQ when it dropped a 4-0 result on the road to Guatemala and a 3-0 result at home.

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