CONCACAF qualification zone still wide open on road to Brazil 2014
The top three teams in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying move on to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The team finishing in fourth place will have to play New Zealand, champions of the Oceania, in a two-legged showdown in November. The United States, Costa Rica, and Mexico are expected to make it through to the World Cup.
However, Mexico’s hold on a World Cup spot is less certain than the U.S. and Costa Rica. Mexico had eight points with four matches left play. That put them just one point ahead of Honduras, who occupied fourth place. Mexico hosts Honduras on Sept. 6 in a match that could go a long way in determining third and fourth place. Hurting Mexico’s chances are their road matches at the U.S. and Costa Rica. Still, Mexico has not dropped a single match in the fourth and final round of qualifying – getting one win and five draws.
Honduras was holding off Panama for the fourth spot with four matches left to play. That is good news for Honduras. Even better news is that Maynor Figueroa should be able to return from his injury. Osman Chavez also should be 100 percent when Honduras meets Mexico. Injuries and suspensions derailed Honduras in its last outing. That was a 1-0 defeat at hands of the U.S. Coach Luis Fernandez Suarez will have to regroup his team if they are going to hold on to the fourth spot or move up in the standings.
Panama was on the outside looking in, one point out of fourth place. Panama could get a confidence builder as they have a home meeting with Jamaica on Sept. 6. The schedule gets harder from there, however, as Panama has road meetings with Honduras and Mexico and a home meeting with the U.S. Helping their cause is the fact that the Oct. 15 match with the U.S. may come when the U.S. has already clinched the top spot. So that is something to consider for World Cup Qualification betting.
Jamaica has an uphill battle for the fourth spot as they earned just two points in the first half of the fourth round qualifying.
With four matches remaining, the U.S. had 13 points. Every other time in CONCACAF history that a team had 13 points with four matches left to play that team has qualified for the World Cup. Even if the U.S. gets overtaken for the top spot in CONCACAF, they should get second and worst case scenario third. The U.S. plays everyone again in the six-team group coming up with the exception of Honduras, who they have already played twice. So, the U.S. will likely only have to get a home win over Jamaica for instance and they will have a top-three spot.
Costa Rica had 11 points with four matches remaining. They get both the U.S. and Mexico at home, which enhances their chances of holding on to a top-three spot. The meeting with the U.S. could move them to first place and the U.S. to second. While the Mexico match could solidify second place for them or drop them to third. Costa Rica also has a meeting with Jamaica left and a win there means they would have 14 points at the very least.