Skip to content

Re-evaluating what we know about CONCACAF after round one

Feb 7, 2013, 7:15 AM EDT

U.S. players react after losing their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Honduras at Olimpico stadium in San Pedro Sula Reuters

Three surprise results later, it’s far more difficult to know what to make of CONCACAF. Even the results that were somewhat explicable developed in ways that prompted new questions. Are the U.S. defenders a bigger problem than we thought? Is Mexico really that far ahead of the rest of the region? Is Panama ready?

One round into CONCACAF’s final stage, it’s time to pause and reevaluate The Hex – assess our new knowledge and determine to what extend that we need to change our outlook for the rest of the tournament.

Let’s go from winners to losers:

Honduras – There’s a temptation to label winning at home as merely holding serve, a description which might be true for Mexico and the United States. But Honduras is not a perpetual World Cup qualifier, even if they did make 2010’s show. To take three points that their competitors for third are less likely to grab is a huge result. Perhaps more importantly, if the midfield led by Roger Espinoza and Boniek Garcia performs like this through the next nine rounds, the Catrachos are unlikely to be pulled into a battle for third. This is a team that could compete closer to the top of the standings.

Costa Rica – Particularly after failing to qualify for South Africa, the Ticos have become the region’s neglected power. For half an hour on Wednesday, Costa Rica dwelled in realms of the forgotten as they spotted Panama two goals. But coming back to claim a point, the Costa Ricans gave us a nudge, woke us up, and reminded us they’re weren’t that far from qualifying for a third straight World Cup in 2010. While Bryan Ruiz’s overhead, game-tying goal may be the type of effort you can’t write into the game plan, Jorge Luis Pinto’s team put themselves in position to benefit. A valuable road point should open our eyes, a little.

Jamaica – This game had blowout written all over it before kicking off, but Jamaica were able to get the round’s most surprising result. Parts of the Reggae Boyz’ result reek of an underdog riding a goalkeeping blinder, but applying that description to the entire match would understate Jamaica’s performance. They had real chances to take full points, and while earning a surprise result at Azteca shouldn’t vault them to the top of our Most Likely to Qualify lists, the draw was reminds us Jamaica have enough talent and athleticism to frustrate anybody in the region. Even Mexico.

source: ReutersMexico – They came out flat, and their fans let them know it. Second half boos and ironic cheers for the Jamaicans reminded El Tri that they’re playing under higher expectations. Whether the standard’s fair or not, teams like Jamaica aren’t supposed to trouble Mexico, especially at home. Still, it was only 90 minutes of a 900 minute tournament, and while ‘Chepo’ de la Torre’s side performed well below expectations, nothing we saw on Wednesday should convince us their round one disappointment was more than a one-off.

Panama – It’s hard to call any team a “big loser” one match into the tournament, but Panama was the team that lost the most on Wednesday. Not only did they give up a two-goal lead, they capitulated to one of the two teams they should be targeting for third place. We alluded to it in yesterday’s preview: The inability to play to the stakes could hurt the Canaleros early in the tournament. Their inexperience may have cost them two points they’re unlikely to reclaim at Estadio Saprissa.

United States – The somewhat strange-cum-freakish way it happened overshadowed the remainder of a disappointing performance, but Wednesday’s loss didn’t tell us anything new about the United States. They’re still not generating enough chances, have problems in defense, and have a surprising number of questions in midfield (both in personnel and style). But even though the team is not playing to fans’ expectations, they still project as the second-best team in the region. The fact that they almost got a result against a good Catracho team (that got strong individual performances) only affirms that status.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH: Real Salt Lake nets five consecutive goals to lead Colorado, 5-1

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    javier_morales AP

    Five consecutive goals have Real Salt Lake ahead of the Colorado Rapids tonight, 5-1.

  2. Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Preview of West Ham v. Liverpool match on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.

  3. Watch Live: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Lineups)

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Edson Buddle, Nat Borchers AP

    Watch Real Salt Lake encounter the Colorado Rapids live on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra at 10:00 p.m. ET tonight.

  4. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of Aston Villa vs. Arsenal match on NBCSN at 10:00 a.m. ET this Saturday.

  5. Pellegrini, Mourinho have different views of Lampard’s Chelsea exit

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    41361 Getty Images

    Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hold different rationales about midfielder Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge exit this year.

  6. UEFA president Michel Platini to keep gifted watch despite FIFA’s dislike

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    EURO 2016 Steering Committee Meeting Getty Images

    UEFA president Michel Platini doesn’t wish to give into FIFA’s pressure to return a watch gifted to him at the World Cup.

  7. Seattle Sounders ink Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Olympics+Day+15+Football+57gftmf5b8fl Getty Images

    Seattle Sounders FC have signed Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam.

  8. WATCH: Coritiba striker Joel vanishes into hole during goal celebration

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Joel+Coritiba+v+Chapecoense+Brasileirao+Series+hdtIomrwmOml Getty Images

    Coritiba striker Joel brought out a one-of-a-kind goal celebration vs. Sao Paolo.

  9. Chicharito admires Sir Alex Ferguson for spearheading “European dream”

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has sung the praises of former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who the forward believed was instrumental in getting himself exposure in Europe.

  10. At “massive” Madrid, Bale hails Spurs fans, mentions possible return

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Gareth Bale, AP

    Gareth Bale could one day return to Tottenham, but his waxing poetic on White Hart Lane is likely nothing more than political fare.

  11. Van Gaal has interest in Ronaldo, doesn’t think Real Madrid will sell

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Of course it’s possible that Louis van Gaal could bring Ronaldo to Manchester United, but he doesn’t believe his current team is interested.

  12. WATCH: Ronaldinho’s brutal PK attempt mars Mexican debut

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    How many times in his life has Ronaldinho performed this task with flair (or at least adequately)?

  13. Americans Abroad preview: Guzan looks to keep Villa rolling

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard’s stint as No. 1 USMNT backstop may be on hiatus, but the battle of who’s the top American goalkeeper in the Premier League is on

  14. Premier League Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    niko-kranjcar-qpr-stoke-64064-1928575_613x460

    An even rivalry heads to Loftus Road to start its season series on Saturday, kicking off the Premier League weekend.

  15. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 5

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 5, right here.

  16. Awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges, Hope Solo plays on. Fair?

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Mexico v United States Getty Images

    A Washington Post report asks why Hope Solo is being celebrated for her on-field efforts while awaiting the results of her not guilty plea to domestic abuse charges.

  17. Di Vaio seems ready to call time on prolific stint in Montreal, career

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Di Vaio

    It’s not about the Impact, the CONCACAF Champions League or the club’s record. For Di Vaio, it’s about home.

  18. Benoit Assou-Ekotto suspended for comments on Anelka quenelle gesture

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    Benoit-Assou-Ekotto-tweet-2932591

    Perhaps the investigation took a bit too long, but it seems many athletes did not understand the depths of their joke usage.

  19. Bastia’s Brandao gets six-month ban for headbutting PSG’s Thiago Motta

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:40 AM EDT

    _77681154_0aa4ee3d-419f-443e-9b75-25145bc61f73 Getty Images

    You can watch the video of the ‘premeditated’ act inside. Six months is fairly understandable, no?

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea