Honduras can qualify for its first world cup in 28 years
Matchdays 9 and 10 are upon us here in our little corner of the world. I’ve knocked about a good number of proverbs and clichés to sum up what we have seen so far in the previous 8 matchdays. I've landed on “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
It certainly applies to Costa Rica . At 12 points after 5 games, they were already applying for the visas at the South African embassy in San Jose . After 8 games, they still have 12 points, and they are staring at the very real possibility that their road to South Africa goes through Buenos Aires.
Honduras is the Texas Tech of the hex: a beast at home, but a lamb on the road. La bicolor has only managed to get one point away from the creature comforts of San Pedro Sula
The adage can be applied to the US and their last few efforts at home. Twice they have had to come from behind to avoid cardinal sin of dropping the full three at home.
For the first half of the hex, Mexico didn’t look at all like at team that would even make the playoff spot. That was before they ran off 4 games in row, including the 3-0 mudholing they left behind at the Saprissa.
And now the roller coaster ride is almost over.
Two teams can clinch spots Saturday night with wins. Two others still control their destiny, but they have to win on Saturday.
The one who seems to have it the easiest is Mexico. As long as they get to at least 18 points in their last two games vs. El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago, they’re in. One would expect that will happen this weekend at the Azteca vs. El Salvador, but the cuzcatlecos have proven beyond doubt that they are anything but regional doormats. They have been extremely difficult to beat on the road. And if it weren’t for two late equalizers at home, they would be very much in the conversation. Carlos de los Cobos has la selecta pointed in the right direction. They will be in the thick of the next hex for sure.
Honduras better hope they don’t have to go to the Cuzcatlan needing a win to advance. Even with El Salvador eliminated, the locals will want to end the hex on a high note, and if they can’t make the world cup, the next best thing would be to deny Honduras a spot. The Catrachos are currently in 3rd place with 13 points. They have been here before. Back in 2001, Honduras was in the golden zone in the final throes of the 2001 hex but lost, unbelievably, at home to T&T. A loss at the Azteca followed, and that was that. Honduras was out. They hope history won’t repeat itself this Saturday at San Pedro Sula. The last time the yanks came calling, Clint Mathis delivered a 2nd half wonder goal to win 2-1.
The USA can punch their ticket with a win in Honduras. And luckily for them, a loss doesn’t place the yanks in a terribly precarious position: they’ll just have to not lose against the Ticos at RFK. US fans shouldn’t be all that nervous. Or should they?
And what of Costa Rica? The team that was on top after the first legs hasn’t won since, has given up 8 goals without scoring one, and has tried to pick up the pieces with a new coach. Can they stop the hemorrhaging against T&T? Will they pull the shocker in DC? Or will they be scoreboard watching the southern hemisphere to see who they get?
Mexico gets the win at the Azteca, but it will be much, much, tougher than expected. They go on to beat T&T and to take 1st place in the Hex.
The US loses to Honduras, but beats the Ticos, which is great news to the Catrachos because they falter in San Salvador.
And Concacaf sends by far its strongest trio ever to the world cup.