USMNT: Hexagonal Schedule Set
The US Men’s National Team now knows the path it must take to Brazil.
The draw could have been better for the USMNT, but then again, it could have been worse.
The USMNT will begin the Hexagonal with 3 of 4 games on the road. A team that struggled to a 1-1-1 record in the Third Round of qualifying will need to figure out how to win, or at least get points, on the road or set themselves up for a very difficult time qualifying later.
The middle of the schedule offers the best chance at maximum points, with 4 of 5 within friendly borders. The venues for the home qualifiers will not be released until closer to the actual dates due to figuring out what venues will be available when.
The qualifying schedule ends with a trip to Panama. Hopefully by that time qualification will be secured and the fate of a trip to Brazil won’t depend on getting a result in Panama.
Here is a more detailed look at the USMNT schedule:
February 6, 2013 – Away
June 18, 2013 – Home
The trip to Honduras will be a tough start to the Hexagonal campaign. The last team to go into Honduras for a qualifier was Canada. The 8-1 thrashing that Canada received ruined their chances of going to Brazil. The high powered Honduras offense will be a real test for Klinsmann’s shaky back four.
Honduras qualified for the 2010 World Cup by finishing 3rd in the Hexagonal behind the United States and Mexico. The two games between the USMNT and Honduras and saw two wins for the Americans. In both meetings the Americans found themselves down 1-0 before mounting come from behind wins. The meeting in the US was a 2-1 finish and the one in San Pedro Sula ended 3-2.
Honduras also reached the semi-finals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Just like the USMNT lost to Mexico in the final of that tournament, Honduras fell a round earlier to the Mexicans in the semis. The USMNT did not face Honduras in the 2011 Gold Cup.
March 22, 2013 – Home
September 6, 2013 – Away
Costa Rica represents the first home game of the Hexagonal for Jurgen Klinsmann. If they fail to get a result in Honduras there will be a lot of pressure to make sure points are earned at home. Finishing second in Group B behind Mexico with 14 goals for and only 5 against. The 14 goals for was the second highest in the entire round, however 11 of them came against an ill-prepared Guyana side. It will be interesting to see how they cope playing against much better competition in the Hexagonal.
In the 2010 Hexagonal Costa Rica fell just short of qualifying when Jonathan Bornstein scored an equilizer deep into stoppage time in Washington DC that put Honduras through instead. That draw followed a Costa Rica win in San Jose, Costa Rica that only a stoppage time penalty kick by Landon Donovan spared what would have been an embarrassing 3-0 loss. The 3-1 final wasn’t much more impressive though. The two sides did not meet in the Gold Cup as Honduras beat Costa Rica in the quarter-finals in penalty kicks.
March 26, 2013 – Away
September 10, 2013 – Home
This is the match up everyone will have their eyes on. The recent friendly victory for the USMNT in the Azteca will add a level of belief to Klinsmann’s team when they head to Azteca. When the return leg rolls around, expect the Mexicans to return the favor by trying to embarrass the Americans on their own soil. The Mexicans waltzed through their 3rd round group winning all six games while scoring 15 and only allowing 2. A very impressive showing by a team that seems to have everything clicking right now.
The two premier teams in the region have been at the top for the past few tournaments. The 2010 Hexagonal saw the USMNT edge out Mexico at the top of the table after the two sides split their two meetings. In 2006 World Cup Qualification the sides tied at the top after once again splitting their meetings. The rivals have also met in the last three Gold Cup finals and at least one of the countries in 10 of the 11 finals, with the Mexicans taking home 6 Gold Cups and the Americans 4. These two sides know each other very well and any match up is high energy and full of emotion and hatred for the other side.
June 7, 2013 – Away
October 11, 2013 – Home
The USMNT will be very familiar with Jamaica after the two sides both came out of Group A in the third round. The sides split their meetings with Jamaica 2-1 home victors and the US winning 1-0 at home. The Reggae Boyz advanced past Guatemala on goal differential. All three of Jamaica’s wins came at home as they picked up just a single point on the road.
While the two sides did not meet in the 2010 World Cup Qualifications as Jamaica finished third behind Honduras and Mexico in their third round group, the USMNT did face them in the 2011 Gold Cup. Since the USMNT finished second in their first round group they faced off in the quarterfinals despite Jamaica winning their group. The USMNT rebounded from a loss to Panama and a weak win over Guadeloupe to beat Jamaica 2-0.
June 11, 2013 – Home
October 15, 2013 – Away
Panama was the lowest scoring team to qualify for the Hexagonal as they only scored 6 goals in their 6 games in the third round of qualifying. A stifling defense was the difference though as they pitched four clean sheets, including all three of their home matches. Winning at home will be the key if they hope to have a chance at qualifying for Brazil. It would be in the best interest of Klinsmann and Company to make sure their qualification is wrapped up before having to visit Panama on the last day of the Hexagonal.
The USMNT have faced Panama a couple times in the last few years. Most recently in a friendly at the end of the January camp in 2012 where Graham Zusi had the winner. Before that there were two meetings in the 2011 Gold Cup including an embarrassing 2-1 loss in Tampa. The Americans would get a level of revenge by knocking the Panamanians out of the semifinals with a 1-0 victory 11 days later in Houston. The Panamanians have not featured in the Hexagonal since the 2006 qualification cycle where they finished last in the group. Only mustering two draws at home left it was a disappointing showing with only 4 goals for and 21 against.