USMNT Qualifying Schedule
The United States find themselves in Group A of the third round of the CONCACAF qualifying cycle and will begin play June 8th. Competing with the Stars and Stripes in Group A will be Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua Barbuda.
strongRoad to the third round:/strong
strongUnited States:/strong As one of the top six seeds in the region, received a bye through to the third round.
strongJamaica: /strongAlso received a bye through to the third round as a top six seed.
strongGuatemala: /strongEasily handled Group E of the second round, winning all 6 of their matches against Belize, Saint Vincent the Grenadines, and Grenada, collecting 19 goals for, only 3 against and the perfect 18 points.
strongAntigua Barbuda: /strongEdged out Haiti as the winners of Group F, using two big wins over the U.S. Virgin Islands (10-0 and 8-1) on their way to 5-1 record with 26 goals for, 5 against and 15 points. Curacao was the final member of that group.
strongThe USMNT Schedule /strong(Home team listed first)strong:/strong
Friday, June 8, 2012: USMNT vs Antigua Barbuda
Tuesday, June 12, 2012: Guatemala vs USMNT
Friday, September 7, 2012: Jamaica vs USMNT
Tuesday, September 11, 2012: USMNT vs Jamaica
Friday, October 12, 2012: Antigua Barbuda vs USMNT
Tuesday, October 16, 2012: USMNT vs Guatemala
The games will be played in groupings, two at a time, one home, one away. The most interesting grouping will be a home and away with Jamaica within a four day span. The top two teams from each group will progress to play in the Hexagonal final stage of CONCACAF qualifying. From that round, the top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the 4th team will be forced to play a home and away playoff with the winner of the Oceanic Football Confederation (If youre a gambler, New Zealand will be your pick there) for a spot in the World Cup.
strongThe Other Groups:/strong
strongGroup B:/strong Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana
strongGroup C:/strong Honduras, Cuba, Canada, Panama
The United States will progress through this round. I say that with every level of confidence. Should the USMNT not progress, I am willing to burn every piece of soccer merchandise I own and take up curling. Same goes with Mexico (although I would love to see El Tri crash and burn in this round). Costa Rica is a pretty solid lock as the second team from Group B. That is as far as my locks go. Jamaica should be a solid pick to progress, but with how strong Guatemala looked in the second round, I would expect them to make things interesting. Group C is going to be one heck of a brawl for those two spots. Honduras will by far be the favorite. Panama had a good showing at the Gold Cup this year and was strong in an easy second round group. Canada could really be a darkhorse here. The leafs are in the same boat as the USMNT, looking to add some firepower from dual citizen players that could see a quicker trip to the World Cup through their second choice citizenship. Junior Hoillet could really help their campaign. When I say Cuba is also a darkhorse in the group, I mean it in the sense of I have no idea what to expect from them.
Once the six finalists reach the Hexagonal phase there are always surprises. Mexico and the United States have stumbled in the past, but have always found enough to progress. The level of play in the region is definitely on the upswing and this could make for some very exciting games.
Keep checking back for word on where the USMNT will be playing their home matches for the second round. With a little luck the Sons of Ben may be able to make a trip to support our other Boys in Blue.