Skip to content

The best night ever in CONCACAF qualifying? How the historic drama unfolded on Twitter …

Oct 16, 2013, 1:56 AM EDT

A trio of matches in the final night of regional qualifying kicked off simultaneously in Panama City, Panama, in Kingston, Jamaica and in San Jose Costa Rica:

It all started at 9:30 p.m. ET … but it didn’t really start until Panama’s Gabriel Torres (who plays in MLS for the Colorado Rapids) curled a real beauty past U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan. And the night was on!

.

And then it was Costa Rica’s turn, as things got worse and worse for Mexico. Remember, this was the sum of all awfulness for Mexico … El Tri trailed while Panama led, which meant Mexico out of the World Cup.

.

But Mexico lives! Oribe Peralta bangs one off the underside of the crossbar. It’s Costa Rica 1, Mexico 1 … which means Mexico has the fourth spot and the playoff, for the time being, at least.

.

The Mexicans are in it … but their fallen hero, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, is having a Costa Rican nightmare. In fact, his whole final round of World Cup qualifying has been one big bag of nothing.

.

And lest we forget about Los Catrachos, who needed only a draw in Jamaica to qualify for their second consecutive World Cup: Maynor Figueroa has scored to put his team ahead of the home team, 2-1. This is getting fun, eh?

.

Now it’s halftime at all three spots. The United States is missing six or seven starters, but the backups should be holding up a little better against Panama, the side with all the motivation. Credit to Panama, though. And at least the United States looks better than Mexico … which looks absolutely nothing like a team that deserves to be in the World Cup.

.

Thing is, the real craziness is just getting started. Rafa Marquez tries to stomp his way into the World Cup — only a Costa Rican player happens to be on the bottom of this stomping shenanigan. It’s another ridiculous moment from a guy whose career is full of them.

.

Not long after, Chicharito answers the growing Chicharito question: he gets a yellow card for a little dust-up off the ball inside Costa Rica’s penalty area:

.

Holy Cow! Michael Orozco scores a goal for the United States down in Costa Rica. He’s the same guy that scored a goal last year when the United States beat Mexico at Azteca Stadium, a historic win for Jurgen Klinsmann and his team.

.

It would be “Advantage, Mexico.” But almost simultaneously, Real Salt Lake and Costa Rican goal-getter Alvaro Saborio gets free inside the penalty area, heading past a helpless Mexican goalkeeper. And who was waaaay out of position?

.

So … uh … wait … who is in the World Cup from our CONCACAF region at this point? … It’s the United States and, uh … so confusing … Can Canada still get in?

Thing is, the madness is just getting started.

.

Seriously, at this point Mexico trails to a Costa Rican team with nothing really to play for (having already qualified). And yet, it’s Mexico and not Panama in that fourth-place playoff. SI.com’s Grant Wahl has a good idea (just as we get a little goal-mouth action in San Jose):

.

Oh, for the accountants out there, don’t forget about the massive financial implications. Meanwhile, the rest of us are just conflicted:

.

Or, are we? Conflicted, that is. More and more, people are suggesting that Mexico doesn’t deserve further World Cup opportunity. After all, Costa Rica looks far more likely to score a third goal than Mexico does to getting an equalizer.

.

And then “it” happened. Luis Tejada scores for Panama, which leads the United States, 2-1. So at this point, with about 15 minutes remaining, the CONCACAF automatic qualifiers are the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras, with Panama in position for fourth-place and that playoff against New Zealand. Yes, it is stretching the realms of belief.

.

Who doesn’t love them some Andres Cantor, who is alerting Mexico-Costa Rica viewers of the critical happenings in Panama City with an unmistakable urgency:

.

And did we mention we love these simultaneous kickoffs for final day. We’re looking at you, Major League Soccer. Make this thing happen! It’s better than ketchup on french fries, sweeter than Vermont maple, more outstanding than … well, you get the idea:

.

So it looks like … wait … WHAT? Graham Zusi shatters Panamanian hearts. The home team was riding out a 2-1 win, dreaming the World Cup dream, minding its own doggone business when Zusi puts Mexico back into play in the World Cup.

.

Don’t forget, that home-and-away series with Mexico is going to make a whole bunch of TV money here in the United States. Soccer United Marketing, attached to MLS, owns the U.S. rights for Mexico matches.

.

It’s still sinking in, even as Aron Johannsson scores another goal for the United States to make the final out of Panama 3-2. But that goal doesn’t really matter for World Cup places. It was Zusi’s tying goal that changed fortunes, setting up this theater of the bizarre, this day the United States kept Mexico alive in a World Cup.

.

Well said, sir.

As for the rest of us, the emotions are pouring forth as we all contemplate the best night in CONCACAF qualifying history, the night a bunch of soccer folks fell hopelessly in love. We’ll always have 15-October.

.

There really was so, so much more to it all. But that gives you an idea, at least.

We’ll let these two have the last words on a memorable, surreal night:

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Red Bulls meet Ronaldinho’s reps; Reunion with Henry coming?

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    Brazilian outlet UOL says Ronaldinho could be on his way to Major League Soccer, as the Red Bulls up the ante in NY rivalry.

  2. MLS weekend preview: Conference leaders, surging Galaxy take to NBC, NBCSN

    Aug 1, 2014, 1:03 AM EDT

    graham_zusi Getty Images

    A nine-match weekend sees MLS return to NBC, with NBCSN set to broadcast games in Kansas City, San Francisco.

  3. José Mourinho insists Chelsea needs Fernando Torres

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT

    Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London Reuters

    Manager remains insistent the Spanish international will stay at Stamford Bridge.

  4. George John undergoes season-ending knee surgery

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

    George John 3

    Successful procedure marks the end of John’s 2014 hopes.

  5. For Napoli, hairstyle part of Marouane Fellaini’s appeal

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:12 PM EDT

    Fellaini Getty Images

    De Laurentiis confirms the partenopei’s interest in the afro-laden star.

  6. Clarence Goodson set to miss eight more weeks

    Jul 31, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    clarence_goodson Getty Images

    Toe injury to sideline the U.S. international for an estimated 10 games.

  7. Second thing Brian Ching doesn’t like: NWSL cooling breaks

    Jul 31, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Brian Ching 2

    No. 1: Eddie Johnson. No. 2: These new-fangled rules.

  8. Talented US youngsters sign for Spanish sides Sevilla, Espanyol

    Jul 31, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    Sevilla

    Young Americans set to blaze trail in La Liga academies.

  9. Ignacio Piatti’s move to Montréal may cost him a place in Copa Libertadores’ final

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    ignacio_perez_garcia AP

    San Lorenzo is in Copa’s finals, but Piatti is unlikely to join them.

  10. Can Stevan Jovetic, Scott Sinclair break into Manchester City’s lineup?

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    International Champions Cup 2014 - Manchester City v Liverpool Getty Images

    Two players who spent plenty of time on the sidelines last season are pushing to be integral parts of Manuel Pellegrini’s plans.

  11. Matías Pérez García announced, becomes third Designated Player in San Jose history

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    san_jose_earthquakes_logo

    29-year-old Argentina arrives from Tigre, becoming the club’s third Designated Player of all-time.

  12. Is Everton’s new striker Romelu Lukaku worth $47 million?

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Romelu Lukaku

    Everton’s frugality gave way to necessity. Is Lukaku worth it the serious cash they splashed?

  13. A list of Manchester United-linked names to consider in silly season

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT

    twitter.com/officialsslazio twitter.com/officialsslazio

    Remember when Marco Reus, Dries Mertens and Leighton Baines solidified Manchester United’s status in Europe? Us neither.

  14. Rhode Island man sues Cristiano Ronaldo over CR7 trademark

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    FBL-ESP-CUP-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Christopher Renzi are looking horns over the CR7 trademark.

  15. Report: Ochoa to Malaga is on as Mexican goalkeeper replaces Caballero

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Guillermo Ochoa AP

    Guillermo Ochoa starred in the 2014 World Cup for Mexico, and now will try to fill Willy Caballero’s shoes at Malaga.

  16. Sierra Leone squad banned from traveling as Ebola virus spreads

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    Sierra Leone Getty Images

    As deadly virus continues to spread, the Seychelles refuse to let Sierra Leone travel for qualifier.

  17. Video: Pepe spits on Keita; Latter claims past racial slur

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Ashley Cole, Pepe AP

    Seydou Keita has left Barcelona, but being in a different league has not stopped the animosity between the AS Roma midfielder and Real Madrid’s Pepe.

  18. Steven Gerrard: “Luis Suarez too good for Arsenal”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

    Suarez and Gerrard both nominated for PFA award, as Liverpool dominate. AP

    Gerrard: “With all due respect to them, I said to Suarez that he was too good for Arsenal.”

  19. SI report: Bayern high on Julian Green, turned down PL loan offers

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    Bayern Munich's Julian Green fights for the ball with Al-Merrikh's Ramadan Ajab during their friendly soccer match in Doha Reuters

    Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said several Premier League teams had interest in 19-year-old American striker Julian Green.

  20. Eddie Johnson response to Brian Ching’s criticism? “Scoreboard”

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

    South Korea v United States Getty Images

    Ching said his former USMNT teammate needs incentive-laden contracts to thrive, while Johnson claims Ching is jealous.