Final round of World Cup Qualifying continues Friday for USA, CONCACAF
(Via U.S. Soccer) – Matchday 3 of the Final Round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is almost here. While the U.S. gets set to take on Honduras on Friday in San Jose, two other matches will take place around CONCACAF earlier that day.
Check out the standings and previews of the trio of games:
|2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round|
|Trinidad & Tobago||2||0||2||0||0||1||5||-4|
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama
Hasely Crawford Stadium; Port of Spain, Trinidad
March 24 at 7 p.m. ET on beIN Sports
Trinidad & Tobago Roster | Panama Roster
Panama were one of the big winners from the first two matchdays, using Fidel Escobar’s 22nd minute strike to steal a 1-0 victory away to Honduras before returning home to grind out a 0-0 draw with Mexico. Los Canaleros go back on the road Friday to face an unsettled Trinidad & Tobago side.
After the Soca Warriors came out of the gate with two losses to begin the Final Round last November, head coach Stephen Hart was dismissed and Tom Santfiet was introduced as the new coach. The Belgian manager’s tenure was short-lived after he failed to qualify the team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, leading to his resignation and the appointment of former T&T international Dennis Lawrence.
Though Trinidad & Tobago earned a 2-0 friendly win against Barbados on March 10, “in flux” is the best way to describe the side that needs to gain home points to keep its qualifying hopes on track. Meanwhile, Panama manager Hernán Dário Gómez will view the fixture as another opportunity to gain maximum points on the road. If they do, Los Canaleros will be in a great position when they welcome the U.S. to Estadio Rommel Fernandez four days later.
Form may go one way, but history takes it another as Trinidad & Tobago are a perfect 4-0-0 and have never conceded a goal against Panama in World Cup Qualifiers. This match, however, will mark the first meeting between the two sides in qualifying since the 2005 Hexagonal.
Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico
March 24 at 8:50 p.m. ET on FS1
Mexico Roster | Costa Rica Roster
Costa Rica had a dream start to the Hex, defeating Trinidad & Tobago 2-1 on the road before coming home to earn a 4-0 win against the United States. Los Ticos sit pretty atop the Final Round standings, but face a stiff test when they visit Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Friday.
The once-vaunted Mexican venue lost a bit of luster when Costa Rica defeated El Tri there in 2001, and the last qualifying cycle also saw the U.S. earn a draw there as well as a Honduras victory. Still, Mexico has become reinvigorated under the direction of head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, with the team piling up an impressive 14-1-3 record since the Colombian manager took over in November 2015.
While Mexico leads the all-time series with a 28-6-10 mark, the record is much closer when factoring in World Cup Qualifying, during which El Trí holds a 10-4-6 advantage. One thing is clear: if there is a winner in this match, that team will have a sure leg up on the rest of the group.
The last match of the day features a U.S. side that is highly motivated to #Get3 points against Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Following back-to-back losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to begin the Final Round last November, Bruce Arena returned to guide the MNT and convened a successful month-long January Camp with the domestic player pool to begin the year.
The U.S. will host a Honduras team that had mixed fortunes at home in November, falling 1-0 to Panama before bouncing back with a 3-1 victory against Trinidad & Tobago. A tough attacking team, Honduras features a number of players in Major League Soccer including the Houston Dynamo trio of Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto and Alberth Ellis, Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza and former D.C. United attacker Andy Najar, who now plays for Anderlecht in Belgium.
Facing a U.S. team that is keen to right the ship, Honduras will be happy to come away with a point before going into their home clash with Costa Rica, while the Arena’s side knows it needs to make up the three home points dropped to Mexico in November.
History sits on the MNT’s side, with the U.S. holding a 15-4-4 all-time record, 12-2-3 advantage on U.S. soil and 5-2-1 mark in World Cup Qualifying, though there is plenty to be wary of with Honduras, which handed Arena his only home qualifying defeat back in 2001.