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Why Canada has a legit shot at overtaking Honduras for the final Hex spot

Manjrekar James

Canada’s Manjrekar James, second left, celebrate with teammates after scoring against Honduras during a 2018 World Cup Russia qualifier soccer match in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)


The last Hex match between the United States and Canada came in November 1997, and darn it we’d like to see another one.

With all due respect to Honduras, which seems fairly likely to join the United States as the fifth and sixth teams in the final round of World Cup qualifying, our neighbors to the North present the potential for rivalry that would make your ordinary qualifier qualify as exceptional.

Got all that?

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While the U.S. looks to wrap up the top seed in Group C with a win over already-advanced Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Canada needs a win over El Salvador in Vancouver and some help to advance to the Hex.

Canada has been to one World Cup in its history, a rock bottom finish at the 1986 tournament in Mexico. Benito Floro’s stab at 2018 qualifying began with a home win over Honduras, but the Canucks merely drew in El Salvador before dropping a pair against Mexico.

Friday’s loss in Honduras cost Canada its chance to control its destiny on the final match day of the fourth round. The Canucks are three points and five goals worth of differential behind Honduras, and making up the ground is not absurd.

Honduras faces Mexico, which will be ready to go despite running roughshod through the group. El Tri have scored 13 goals and conceded just once in winning Group A, and the side is out to prove that the Copa America embarrassment against Chile was just an embarrassing bump in the road.

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Not only that but -- sorry Canada -- Mexico will certainly have interest in keeping Honduras from the Hex.

With the Mexico-Honduras match coming at the Hex, and knowing Mexico won the reverse fixture 2-0, a blowout is far from unreasonable. And El Salvador’s road trips in this cycle have both been multi-goal losses (3-0 to Mexico and 2-0 to Honduras).

Can you find six goals between the two results there? We think so, and it’s possible five goals can do the trick if Honduras is shutout (Total goals scored is the third tiebreaker).

Additionally, the Yanks should want Canada to advance as well regardless of rivalry potential. The trip to Canada will be less of a problem than the trek to San Pedro Sula, and Canada’s inexperience in the Hex is almost the polar opposite to plucky Honduras’ resume.

It’d be dynamite it Floro would open up his offense instead of opting for using Cyle Larin as a lone striker, something I know a significant amount of Canucks supporters don’t like all that much.

And as we saw at the Olympics, Honduras will have a lot to say here. Young forwards Alberth Elis and Anthony Lozano are just beginning to tap into their potential, adding more attacking threat to a stingy, resilient, and veteran unit. For numerous reasons, vote Canada on Tuesday (or something like that).

Follow @NicholasMendola