Mexico on verge of World Cup spot

by

August 31, 2017
Mexico's Carlos Vela, front, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa train in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on Tuesday. Mexico will play Panama in a World Cup qualifier tomorrow.

Mexico have control of their fate and could qualify for next year's World Cup with a victory tomorrow at home against Panama.

Qualifying with three matches still to play would let Mexico relax with Costa Rica and the United States and even Panama and Honduras battling for the two remaining automatic berths. A fourth team from the CONCACAF region can also advance in a playoff with the number-five team out of Asia.

Only Trinidad and Tobago, last in the six-team standings for North and Central America and the Caribbean, seems out of the picture.

Through six of 10 matches, Mexico have 14 points followed by Costa Rica (11), United States (8), Panama (7), Honduras (5), and Trinidad and Tobago (3).

Mexico-Panama

Early qualification after disappointments this year in the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup should take some pressure off coach Juan Carlos Osorio. Mexico have given up only two goals in the last six qualifiers.

The situation is vastly different than four years ago when Mexico came within seconds of failing to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"It's going to be difficult and complicated," Mexico forward Raul Jimenez said. "They are going to play all-out, and we have to keep this in mind."

Panama have never qualified for the World Cup, and their best shot this time is in the two-game playoff with Asia.

United States-Costa Rica

The United States, after losing their first two qualifiers under coach Jurgen Klinsmann, have rebounded with Bruce Arena in charge.

After the match tomorrow against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, the US play Honduras at San Pedro Sula on September 5, and close against Panama on October 6 at Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad four days later.