America’s Journey To The World Cup

The 2010 World Cup, the biggest sports spectacle, will take place in South Africa.  As of today, 12 out of 32 nations have qualified.  With only two rounds left to play, not a single nation in North America, Central America or the Caribbean (known as CONCAFAF) has qualified.  For those of you that are beginners to soccer, let’s take a look at the group.

From the original 35 teams, there are six teams left in the CONCAFAF region.  The top three teams automatically qualify, while the 4th place team still has to play a home and away qualifying round with the 5th placed team from South America’s group to advance.  With 16 points, the United States leads the group after 8 games.  Mexico follows in close second with 15 and Honduras rounds out the top three with 13 points.

What does all this mean?  With a possible six points (three points for a win or one for a draw) from the last two games, any of the top three could end up in the dreaded 4th place spot.  With this squad is shaping up to possibly be two-time World Cup champion Argentina, nobody wants to end up in 4th place.

This makes the next round of games crucial, especially the United States, who must travel to San Pedro Sula in Honduras to capture all three points for the win.  Honduras has been fierce at home-scoring 12 goals, while only giving up two.  If the United States can steal some points away, it would go a long way toward securing a place in South Africa.

If the United States wins in Honduras, they are all but assured a spot.  Accomplishing this will be a problem, as their record on the road has been less than stellar.  In the four road games the U.S. has played, they’ve recorded only a single win, which came on September 9th at Trinidad and Tobago.  Add to that the Frankie Hejduk-inspired draw in El Salvador, the U.S. has only picked up four points on the road, which comes out to a below average 1-1-2 record.  A loss in Honduras does not spell disaster. If the U.S. can get a win or draw against Costa Rica in their final home game a week later, their place is still assured.  However, the smart move would be to get some points in Honduras to insure a better position before the final round.

No matter what, I can guarantee that the United States’ bumpy road to qualify will be an exciting one.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see them in action.

Author: Joel Beebe

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