CONCACAF World Cup qualifying preview: Scenarios, scenarios
You know, there are four other countries hoping to find a way to Russia through CONCACAF.
We’ve covered the United States men’s national team at length, and will continue to do so. Mexico is already in, having handled their slate of matches along with the Gold Cup and the Confederations Cup.
[ MORE: Who should start for USA v Panama? ]
But what about the rest?
Costa Rica: A point does it. Whether Los Ticos get it at home Friday against Costa Rica or in Panama on Tuesday, it’s mathematically improbable that Oscar Garcia’s men don’t wind up in Russia.
Panama: A one-point lead on the United States for third place could tempt Los Canaleros into playing for a draw on Friday, but that would be foolhardy considering it finishes the Hex with a visit from Costa Rica -- who may have already qualified -- while the USMNT heads to last-place T&T, who will likely be eliminated at the close of business on Friday.
Panama clinches a place in Russia with a win over the United States on Friday. A draw means it simply needs to match the Americans’ result on Tuesday to guarantee at-worst fourth place regardless of what Honduras does in its matches.
USMNT: Covered here, but a win over Panama would help ease concerns about Tuesday in T&T. A draw would mean the U.S. needs a win over T&T, a Panama draw or loss at home vs. Costa Rica, and Honduras failing to gain as many points as the U.S. and making up an almost absurd goal differential on the U.S. But never say never.
Honduras: Perhaps the biggest comfort American fans should feel about their chances to at least make a playoff versus Asia has to do with Los Catrachos’ schedule. Honduras has to get a result in Costa Rica against a side which can qualify for Russia with a point or more in front of its home crowd, then hold off Mexico at San Pedro Sula.
Trinidad and Tobago: Yes, even last place T&T can use wins and math to climb into a playoff date with either Australia or Syria. How unlikely is it? Very. T&T will need to win in Mexico on Friday before beating the desperate USMNT on Tuesday. Oh, and they’ll need Honduras to lose in Costa Rica and home to Mexico, while seeing the Americans lose at home to Panama.