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Proceed with peril in the craziest Hex ever

Mar 27, 2013, 10:38 AM EST

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-PAN-HON

Leading up to Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifiers the CONCACAF standings were surprising. But after last night’s drama, it’s clear that El Hex es completamente loco.

Two matches into qualifying and US supporters felt confident that the main competition was an up-start Honduras squad leading the pack with 4 points and an under-performing Mexico team a single point back. Tied with El Tri on points was Panama and Jamaica, two nations that didn’t give us chills despite both sides having beaten the US in the last 20 months. Bringing up the rear was Costa Rica, who, despite the US only managing to defeat 1-0 in Friday’s blizzard, many Americans still didn’t rate very high.

What a difference a night makes.

In Panama City, Los Canaleros laid the smack down on those plucky Hondurans, defeating Los Catrachos 2-0 on an early opener by Luis Tejeda and a 74th minute strike by FC Dallas forward Blas Perez (pictured). Meanwhile, at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica grabbed its first win with a sound 2-0 victory over Jamaica on goals by ex-Chivas defender Michael Umana and midfielder Diego Calvo.

The results, combined with the Stars & Stripe’s 0-0 draw with Mexico at the Azteca, throws the Hex into utter chaos. Panama’s win seats them on the iron throne on five points with Costa Rica, the US and Honduras in second, third and fourth place, all tied on four points. Mexico’s inability to find victory sends them to second from bottom on three points while Jamaica is in the basement with only two points.

The standings shuffle only underscores the unpredictability and utter craziness of the CONCACAF. Once a qualifying group that European nations – who, admittedly, still have the more difficult path to Brazil – laughed at, the CONCACAF is now a hot, sticky mess that no footballing nation would cruise through. Every CONCACAF country has players of notable talent, a home field advantage to be reckoned with and an insatiable drive to make it to Brazil. This rise in competition can be attributed to a number of changes in the game, the biggest of which is the growing power of Major League Soccer and its careful development of our region’s resources.

An objective mind tells me that Mexico remains the best team in the CONCACAF. But not even El Tri is safe in this group. They may have won the 2012 Olympics but when it comes to El Hex, that means diddly-squat. Because the longer nations like Panama, Costa Rica and even last placed Jamaica are allowed to hang around, the more ridiculous this qualifying group becomes.

Proceed with peril.

  1. scottp11 - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I’m really enjoying this CONCACAF hex cycle, should be a wild ride. There’s some quality, noticeable players on nearly all sides if you follow the Prem, La Liga and MLS. The subsequent matches with Honduras, MX and CR are going to be absolutely insane given their previous results.

    I also really like Panama in this group, it is an awesome country, the people are unique, friendly and it’s a blast. Plus, Blas Perez has been vital for them and he’s at FCD, my local club. Great competitor to watch.

    • Michael Prindiville - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      The CONCACAF truly is the wild west of World Cup Qualifying. It’s totally underrated, unpredictable and there are a ton of really interesting characters – Blas Perez certainly being one of them. If I were to suggest a player for Jozy Altidore to mimic his game after it would be Super Raton.

      • scottp11 - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        Yea, that’s a good thought. I like Blas b/c he’s got a ridiculously high motor, leaves it all out there. His goal last night was class. But he’s also got a toughness to him, he brings a certain…CONCACAF or Central American aspect to the pitch.

        He makes his presence known throughout the game, even when possession and service is lacking. Whereas we all know that Jozy can tend to drift out of games and being such an enormous athlete, it’s perplexing.

  2. manchestermiracle - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    So much more entertaining than in years past, though I’m not ready to claim Mexico’s dominance is over. Some good games coming up this summer will clarify the current turbulence.

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