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The Hex: Four nations through, USMNT close, Canada needs Mexico’s help

Romell Quioto, Doneil Henry

Honduras’ Romell Quioto, front, and Canada’s Doneil Henry, fight for the ball during a 2018 World Cup Russia qualifier soccer match in San Pedro Sula, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)


Only two spots remain in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and those are close to locked up, too.

Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, and Costa Rica will definitely vie for the three automatic bid to Russia 2018, while the United States and Honduras are knocking on the door.

We’ve outlined the complete and utter American failure it would take for the USMNT to miss out on the fifth round of qualifying, the Hex. To sum it up, they’d need to lose to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday (alliteration!), see Guatemala win, and have a 12-goal margin of differential disappear.

The bigger question is whether the U.S. or T&T would really want to win the group. Of course no one wants to lose a qualifier, but the winner opens play with a relatively brutal pairing of Mexico at home and Costa Rica away.

[ USMNT-SVG: Match recap | Player ratings ]

As for Honduras, its group is a little less steady even after coming back from a 1-0 deficit to beat Canada 2-1 on Friday. Honduras has a three-point lead on Canada with five goals better of differential, but a tougher Tuesday.

Los Catrachos have to visit Azteca to face group powers Mexico, which won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Honduras. Goal-starved Canada hosts El Salvador, who concedes goals regularly but drew the Canucks 0-0 in San Salvador.

Mexico has scored two or more goals in each of its World Cup qualifiers, while Canada has been blanked in four of five. Still, the Canucks can hope on a miracle advancement if Mexico keeps scoring and Cyle Larin, Scott Arfield and company can find three goals from Benito Florio’s formation.

Follow @NicholasMendola