CONCACAF qualifying - Six of the best, four on the floor

With both home teams at the top of the table winning, not a whole hell of a lot changed Tuesday.  But let’s update the charts anyway.

The home and away chart:

United States: +1 Costa Rica: -1 Mexico: -4 Honduras: -5 Panama: -6 Jamaica: -10

And, with Jamaica as cupcake:

Costa Rica: -1 United States: -1 Honduras: -5 Mexico: -6 Panama: -8

So whether Mexico is okay, or needs to plan a nice long flight, depends on how you feel about Jamaica.  Or, of course, whether Mexico can live up to their potential and win in Ohio.  If they do that, then the past really was prologue. 

But if they tie…well, there’s a couple of ways you can look at it.  The premise of these charts is, you’re supposed to tie on the road.  Mexico doesn’t get any more credit for tying the US than they would for tying Panama (or, the way Mexico has played, every other team in the region).  Mexico has to work their way back from the damage of tying at home, and tying on the road doesn’t do that.

Now, to be realistic, getting a point in the United States in qualifying for the first time since 1997 would be a confidence lift.  Besides, no one else has so far, and the only other teams that can are below them in the standings.  If the table ends up as tight as it seems, then that Columbus point will be very important.  Whether it means the difference between third and fourth, or fourth and fifth, remains to be seen.

If the US had officially made it official in Utah, which I’m not sure was mathematically possible anyway, then there would have been a couple of twists to consider.  One is easily dismissed – that the United States is the group bully and everyone else is playing for second through fourth.  It’s a tempting dish on a delicious table right now, but the US will have to beat someone on the road besides a reeling Jamaica for that to make much sense.  Mexico’s road record is still better than the US right now…which is a great example of how weird this version of the Hex has been.

Another factor is that an officially qualified US will let Klinsmann go full Tinkerbell.  Having the Gold Cup around as a meaningless tuneup to give players more experience is nice and all – Mexico’s got to be thankful for it right now.  But those won’t be hostile road games against desperate teams playing for actual factual World Cup spots. 

And Klinsmann loves to stick guys in the oven to see how crispy they get.  Sometimes it works.  “Omar Gonzalez in Azteca” is now Tamarian for “young prospect who proves his worth in a difficult setting," and fights have broken out all over the country over whether Fabian Johnson is a midfielder or a left back.

Now’s probably a good time to remind people how good an overall score of -1 really is.  Calling this the “par” chart isn’t fair, because win at home, tie on the road is one of those easy things to say, like “I wish for world peace.”

(Edited for readability and such - like, three separate times.  This is why I don't own a gun.  No trigger discipline.)