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9/02/2017 8:25 am  #1

US in Danger of Not Qualifying

USA's World Cup Qualifying Urgency in Honduras Ramped Up After Home Costa Rica Loss

HARRISON, N.J. — Let’s be clear: The U.S. men’s national team does not deserve to make it to World Cup 2018 based on the way it has played in the CONCACAF Hexagonal qualifying tournament. Not after the U.S.’s brutal 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday, the second home defeat of a Hex in which the U.S. (with just two wins in seven games) has looked decidedly ordinary, a team that is by no means a giant of CONCACAF.

But deserving to reach a World Cup is not the same thing as actually qualifying for one. And the insanely forgiving format of CONCACAF qualifying means the U.S. is still in a pretty good position to reach Russia 2018. It does mean that the remaining three games—at Honduras on Tuesday and against Panama and at Trinidad and Tobago in October—will add some real pressure to test a team that fell flat on its face on Friday in a game it expected to win.

“We’re not worried” about missing the World Cup, U.S. captain Michael Bradley said after Friday’s game. “This is where we are at the moment. The likelihood is it’s going to go down to the wire. And that can’t faze anybody. That can’t scare us. Costa Rica and Mexico are gone. Us and Panama and Honduras play a few games, and at the end one will go to the World Cup, one will go to the playoff [against Asia’s fifth-place team] and one will be out.”

After Friday’s games, the U.S. (eight points) is in third place based on goal difference (+1), with Honduras in fourth (eight points, -7) and Panama in fifth (seven points, -1). The third-place team will qualify automatically for the World Cup, with the fourth-place team going into a playoff against Asia’s fifth-place team. The CONCACAF fifth-place team will be out of luck.

“You do not improve a society by setting fire to it. Instead, find its old virtues and bring them back into the light”

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