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Commentary Mar 20, 2013

World Cup Wednesday: Predictions for CONCACAF qualifying

By Roger Gonzalez

With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just over a year away, teams are trying to start booking their tickets for the world’s biggest soccer stage.

Locally in CONCACAF, where six teams remain, each has played one game so far.

The top three qualify for Brazil 2014 directly after the 10 games in the Hexagonal, with the fourth-placed squad taking part in a play-off against the top finisher from the Oceania region.

Each squad will play two games over the next week and look to get a leg up on the others by securing points.

Here is how the standings look as of today:

Honduras, 3 pts

Costa Rica, 1 pt

Panama, 1 pt

Jamaica, 1 pt

Mexico, 1 pt

USA, 0 pts

And here are my predictions for Friday’s contests:

Honduras at Mexico

Expectations were not met during the first CONCACAF matchday in February. With many expecting the United States to get a favorable result against Honduras, the 2010 World Cup participants secured a fantastic three points with a home 2-1 win over the Yanks.

Mexico were expected to beat Jamaica handily, but the islanders held El Tri to a 0-0 draw in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Now it’s Mexico’s turn to travel south into a hostile environment.

Honduras should have enough to at least get a draw, but the Mexicans come out firing with Javier Hernandez leading the way: Mexico 3, Honduras 1

Panama at Jamaica

Panama has more quality on their roster, surely, but Jamaica is never easy to beat at home. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Panama, a baseball nation, qualify for the cup when it’s all said it done.

Similar to Venezuela, the Panamanians have really improved their quality of soccer, exporting players all over the world.

I think in this one, Panama gets a big-time result: Panama 2, Jamaica 1

Costa Rica at United States

Is this a must-win game for the USA? It’s a bit early for panic, but Yanks head coach Jurgen Klinsmann did call it exactly that on Monday.

His team has been disappointing as of late and not much of a joy to watch. Three points against Costa Rica would right the ship, for the time being. But without first-choice goalkeeper Tim Howard, it could prove difficult.

Expect a big game from Clint Dempsey as the Americans get back on track: USA 2, Costa Rica 0

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