While casual soccer fans might think the United States road to the World Cup is a short and simple one, the truth is that the journey to the biggest stage in the sporting world is a long one, and right now, the U.S. Men’s National Team is on the verge of making their journey to Russia in 2018 a lot more complicated than it needs to be.
The USMNT competes in CONCACAF during World Cup qualification, which will automatically send three teams to the World Cup, with the possibility of a fourth depending on the outcome of an inter-confederation play-in game.
The three teams that automatically qualify are determined by the Hexagonal, known colloquially as “The Hex,” a round-robin tournament of six teams that serves as the final competition that CONCACAF teams must get through to make the World Cup.
With three games left to play in The Hex, the USMNT currently find themselves in third place, tied with Honduras at eight points each, with Clint Dempsey and company leading on goal differential. If Hex play ended today, the USMNT would qualify.
On Tuesday night however, Honduras and the USMNT will meet in Honduras with three potential points in play. Should the Americans win, their road to Russia gets a bit smoother, with winnable matches against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago remaining on their Hex schedule. But with a USMNT loss, Honduras would take sole possession of third place and control their own destiny in qualification.
While a loss on Tuesday would not end the Americans hope for a World Cup bid, it would leave them with no room for error the rest of the way. Panama is currently in fifth in the Hex, but just a point behind the USMNT and Honduras, threatening to take that fourth-place play-in spot should the Americans falter again.
With a draw between the USMNT and Honduras on Tuesday, the Americans might fall to fourth in the standings for a moment, should Panama defeat Trinidad and Tobago, but would still control their own destiny as long as they are able to beat Panama later in the year.
Friday night’s loss to Costa Rica was a blow to the American’s chances for World Cup qualification, but after Tuesday, American fans will know just how panicked they might need to be about booking a ticket to Russia next summer.
The U.S. Men’s National Team kick off on Tuesday night against Honduras at 5:36 p.m. on beIN Sports. The last time the teams met they played to a 1-1 draw.
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