World Cup or Bust!

World Cup or Bust!

DANNY JACOBSON


Tonight the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) plays against Trinidad and Tobago in what is the most important world cup qualifier that the team has played in probably 28 years.  This has been an up and down qualifying run for the USMNT.  They lost at home to both Costa Rica and Mexico.  They got stomped in Costa Rica 4-0.  They changed coaches after the first two matches from Juergen Klinsmann to Bruce Arena for his second stint at the helm.  They beat Panama 4-0 Friday night in Orlando to take possession of the final automatic qualifying bid to the World Cup next summer in Russia.     

The results tonight are huge. Mexico and Costa Rica have already qualified for Russia with the first two automatic qualifying spots. USA, Panama, and Honduras are all playing tonight and all are vying for the third and final qualifying spot.  The USA plays Trinidad and Tobago tonight at 8 pm ET in Trinidad & Tobago.  Panama hosts Costa Rica.  Honduras hosts Mexico.  The team that finds themselves in 4th place tonight will have a home and away series against Australia or Syria.  Here are the scenarios for the USMNT tonight.

USA Win

As Al Davis is famous for saying, “Just win baby.”  The easiest way to qualify is to keep your destiny in your own hands.  With a win, the USMNT will earn the coveted 3 points and both Honduras and Panama won’t be able to catch them no matter how they do tonight.  With the convincing win they had over Honduras, it is reasonable to expect the USMNT to carry that momentum into tonight’s match.  

USA Draw

This will get them a single point.  That would give them 13 total and the best that Panama or Honduras can do is 13 total.  The tiebreaker would be goal differential.  Looking at the table gives some great comfort in the fact that Panama would need to win by 8 goals or Honduras by 13 to catch the USMNT.   So in all reality, a draw tonight gets the USMNT to Russia.

USA Loss

This is the scary way to go.  There is still a chance to go automatically if the USMNT loses.  They would need both Panama and Honduras to lose as well.  That would leave the table the same and the USMNT moves on.  

If both Panama and Honduras win and the US loses, that means that they are done and not moving on to Russia.  That would suck for a team that is expected to make it.  Expectations have been high for this team and it would set them back years in their development.  

If Panama or Honduras wins and the other loses or draws, that would move the USMNT into 4th place and playing Australia or Syria in a two-game playoff to get into the tournament.  Mexico had to do that last time and made it in but that’s not the ideal way to go.

Prediction

USMNT should be able to win this game.  The last time these two teams played was June 8th,  the US won 2-0.  This time around Trinidad and Tobago have a bunch of younger players on their roster.  They know that they can’t advance and are looking to the future.  These young kids will want to prove that they have what it takes to continue to represent their country at the highest level.  The experience of the USMNT will help them get through.  It also seems that the USMNT plays best with its back against the wall.  That is tonight for sure.

    USA- 2, T&T-1

 

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