So we know now US will win the Hex for the 3rd World Cup cycle in a row. This was secured by Costa Rica's 1-0 loss in Honduras combined with US's victory 2-0 over Jamaica Friday night. This has led Jurgen Klinsmann to make a few changes. Well actually more than a few.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City),
Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC),
Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya
(Nantes), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Sacha
Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid
Vienna), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose
You will see Landon Donovan, Matt Besler, Tim Howard, and Jermaine Jones were released back to their respectable clubs. Which leaves us all wondering what line up we will see Tuesday. Brad Guzan is predicted to be between the sticks. It should be interesting to see if Aron and Jozy are matched up. Could Wondo see the pitch? He specializes in goal poaching which might be the US's only way of getting a goal on what will be a fired up Panama side.
Panama has to win at home if it wants to be in Brazil next year. End of story. It is possibly the biggest game ever for that country. The question is how well can Panama bounce back from the crushing last minute loss in Azteca last Friday night? If not for a potential goal of the Hex by Raul Jimenez to snatch the win Panama would have been going home with a 1-1 draw. Now Panama has to play US knowing that even if they get the win they now must wait on the Mexico-Costa Rica result. Ask Honduras how much fun that is as they had to do that in 2009. Remember Honduras made the World Cup on goal differential because of last minute goal from Jonathan Bornstein in the US-Costa Rica 2-2 draw in 2009 on the final matchday(sending CR to the playoff against Uruguay). Of course in this situation Panama would secure a 4th place spot and thus have to play a two leg series against New Zealand for a chance to go to Brazil. That's much better than not going though. I guarantee you Panamanians would take that in a heartbeat right now.
Mexico may have survived a scare in Azteca Friday night but they are definitely not out of the woods by any means. They need a draw or win to secure their spot in 4th (possibly 3rd if Honduras were to slip up at Jamaica). A loss at Costa Rica and El Tri could find themselves out of the World Cup. Mexico really needs to pull a result out in this game because Panama will have a good chance at getting a win at home against a US squad featuring younger reserve players. If both US-Pan and Mexico-CR are tied at 0-0 in the 70th minute there's gonna be some sweating and heart attacks for both Panama and Mexicans supporters. Either way hearts are going to break for one of those two teams.
Speaking of heart breakers I think we need to talk about Honduras a bit. They now sit in 3rd quite comfortably heading into the final match day after getting a tough win against Costa Rica at home Friday night. All Honduras must do is get a draw or win in Jamaica to secure its ticket for the World Cup for the second straight time. I wonder how many Hondurans will be at Independence Park in Jamaica Tuesday? They will no doubt want to do all they can to help their team into the World Cup even if that meant swimming there haha. What Honduras can't do is lose in Jamaica and force its country to wait for the results of Mexico-Costa Rica. Honduras had to sweat it out 4 years ago. Now they have the chance to truly earn a spot for themselves and not need anyone's help. If I know the Honduras team they will make sure they are in the World Cup and it won't make its country sweat it out. Expect mass delays in the streets of Honduras Tuesday night.
US @ Panama-
US has now sent a bunch of their main players home and will be trying out prospects. Panama will have its A team that will be absolutely gunning for a win behind its raucous home support. Just how raucous you may ask? Panama supporters party outside of the opposing team's hotel before the game so teams can't sleep. Ask Canada. Panama will be pushing for a blow out to help its chances of getting that 4th spot while the US will be content with a draw most likely. I know Jurgen says we always go for the win but the line up tells me he's trying to experiment and learn about his younger players.
Panama wins 2-0 or 3-1. Fired up Panama team, crowd fueled by the belief they might actually make the World Cup, and young US team missing a bunch of starters. I don't see US getting a result in this one.
Mexico @ Costa Rica-
Costa Rica wants to end undefeated at home and will want to put on a show for its fans. Some Mexican fans think that's good because the game will open up but they may want to remember every team that went into that stadium came out with a L. I think Mexico will too
Costa Rica wins 2-1. I think Mexico collapses and gives up 2 goals before getting one late in a rally or Costa Rica steals a goal in the 2nd half after a half time tie.
Honduras @ Jamaica
Honduras may win by more against a demoralized Jamaica squad but I think
Honduras just wants to get a result and go home to celebrate a World
Cup birth. They may choose to go for the kill but I think they will take
a one goal win. I think it depends on how much Jamaica comes at them.
I'm just not sure how much Jamaica has left.
Honduras wins 2-0 or 1-0
I believe Panama slips into the 4th spot while Honduras takes in the 3rd spot. Panama will go onto play New Zealand in a two leg series to try to secure a spot in Brazil. As far as Mexico I just don't think they'll make it. I understand they have the advantage going into the final round but this is a team that slipped by Panama at home by the skin of their teeth (if that). If not for a miracle Mexican supporters would have given up hope. Costa Rica is different kind of animal and they aren't going to just let Mexico get a draw(or especially a win) without a major fight.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)