The U.S. Men’s National Team opened Matchday 6 of Final Round World Cup Qualifying with a big road point in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Mexico and now will be watching closely as the set of games concludes Tuesday night with Panama hosting Honduras (9:30 p.m. ET; beIN Sports) and Costa Rica welcoming Trinidad & Tobago (10 p.m. ET; beIN Sports ñ).
Here’s where the Hex stands going into the pair of matches:
With Panama sitting just two points back of the USA and Honduras within striking distance on four, this is the game MNT fans should probably follow closest.
Panama returns to Estadio Rommel Fernandez on the heels of a 0-0 draw at Costa Rica on Thursday. While an away result in San Jose is never something to shy away from, Panama will feel like they should have taken more after playing nearly all of the second half up a man thanks to Giancarlo Gonzalez’s 53rd minute red card. Taking the away point will feel better if Panama is able to get a win against Honduras, but in order to gain three points, they’ll need to improve their paltry goal scoring record which has seen them tally just two goals in five Final Round matches.
On the flip side, this game is as close as it could get to do-or-die for Honduras and they’ll be looking for some payback against a Panama side that ran away with a 1-0 away win in their Hex opener back on Nov. 11 in San Pedro Sula. Coming off their 3-0 thumping to Mexico at Estadio Azteca last Thursday, another loss for Los Catrachos would see them fall four points behind fourth place in the Hex. Just like Panama, Jorge Luis Pinto’s side has had trouble finding the back of the net, with just four goals in five Hex matches and one in its last three.
PAN – Adolofo Machado
HON – Mario Martinez
PAN – Abdiel Arroyo, Edgar Barcenas, Armando Cooper, Harold Cummings, Ismael Diaz Anibal Godoy, Adolfo Machado, Amir Murillo, Luis Ovalle, Valentin Pimentel, Roman Torres
HON – Bryan Acosta, Ever Alvarado, Brayan Beckeles, Jorge Claros, Wilmer Crisanto, Carlos Discua, Alberth Elis, Donis Escober, Maynor Figuerfoa, Luis Garrido, Eddie Hernandez, Emilio Izaguirre, Alfredo Mejia, Johnny Palacios
While Costa Rica will be disappointed with not being able to earn a home win vs. Panama on Thursday, taking a point while playing a man down for most of the second half was still valuable. Los Ticos face their second-straight home match and will expect to defeat sixth-place Trinidad & Tobago, who they handled with ease in a 2-0 Hex opening win on Nov. 11 in Port of Spain. A Costa Rica win would put the home side firmly in second place with 11 points, while a loss or draw would make the table positioning beneath first-place Mexico very tight.
Meanwhile, Trinidad & Tobago must get something out of this game if they’re looking to have their remaining Hex matches be relevant to their qualifying chances. After Kenwyne Jones header off the cross bar and a number of other threats in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the USA, Trinidad & Tobago has shown they can push the game on the road and will hope to use the speed of Joevin Jones and Khaleem Hyland to stretch the Costa Rica back line on counter attacks.
That said, Dennis Lawrence’s side will have its work cut out for them in San Jose, where the Soca Warriors are 0-7-1 all-time in World Cup Qualifying in a 1-1 result on April 28, 1985.
CRC – Giancarlo Gonzalez
TRI - none
CRC – Joel Campbell, Cristian Gamboa, Ronald Matarrita, Bryan Oviedo, Bryan Ruiz, Jose Salvatierra, Marcos Urena
TRI – Andre Boucaud, Joevin Jones, Kenwyne Jones, Kevin Molino, Leston Paul, Jan-Michael Williams, Jomal Williams, Mekeil Williams
Question: So what keeps the USA in the top three qualifying spots Tuesday night?
Answer: A Honduras win or draw with Panama will ensure the USA stays in third. A Trinidad & Tobago upset of Costa will keep the MNT tied on points with Los Ticos.