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2014 World Cup: How does it look for CONCACAF?

Dec 6, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT


When CONCACAF found out its teams would be grouped in Pot 3, away from Europe, Africa and South America, it knew it was in for a tough World Cup draw. There would be no Iran, no Australia… it would be a battle just to find games where CONCACAF would be favored.

In the end, the results were a mixed bag. Costa Rica and the United States have their work cut out for them, Mexico faces a challenge to their attacking skill while Honduras may be the Confederation’s best hope.

Both Mexico and the U.S. made their way to the knockout rounds in 2010 — Honduras finished last in its group — but how many nations will survive the group stage this time around.

The United States and its fortunes are directly tied to whether its Top 15 ranking is a true indicator of where they — and CONCACAF — stand. The Yanks have done loads of good during a record-setting 2013, but have been eliminated from the World Cup by two of their group mates: Germany and Ghana. The States kept Portugal from advancing in 2002, so there’s history everywhere. Is Portugal as deep? No, but they have the man who almost single-handedly took them to Brazil in Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mexico’s challenge will be dictating their game to the opposition. Free-wheeling is going to be a challenge when it comes to stingy Croatia and Cameroon, while beating hosts Brazil would seem prize-enough for a Mexico team that’s been on quite the roller coaster ride. They’ll go as Oribe Peralta (pictured) goes, and his work against the Ivory Coast in their highest-profile win (outside of the playoff with New Zealand) was superb.

He’s scored in seven of Mexico’s last eight matches, producing a total of 11 goals.

Poor Costa Rica. Their reward for finishing second in CONCACAF qualifying is a team that will match their physicality (England), another that will out-flash them (Uruguay) and perhaps the finest defensive, counter-attacking country of all-time (Italy). They finished 31st in their last World Cup appearance (2006) and have to hope that England and Italy fare poorly on the other side of their world.

Honduras is playing in a group that quite literally could find any two teams advance out of the group. France is a wild card, with immense talent but uncertainty lurking after a simply horrible experience in 2010. Switzerland has been looked-past, which is hilarious given they’re the No. 7 team in the world. That said, where will the goals come from? No Swiss player other than Tranquillo Barnetta has 10-plus goals in their international career. Which brings us to Ecuador.

La Tri is captained by Antonio Valencia and haven’t been out of the Copa America’s first round, let alone World Cup, since 1997. Their Round of 16 finish in the 2006 World Cup seems ancient history, but again, this is a South American tournament. Honduras has won a single World Cup game in its two appearances, though one its draws came versus Switzerland. As many as five MLS player could feature for the Hondurans, who will lean on New England’s Jerry Bengtson and Guizhou Zhicheng’s Carlo Costly to score and score early.

  1. dws110 - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Honduras are jerks for randomly getting drawn into stealing our rightful spot in Group E.

    • gazwp - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      dont be such a sissie…

      Anyways JL Pinto said “we are happy about the group”… so shut your pie hole.

    • footballer4ever - Dec 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Are you freaking serious? Are you someone with common sense because it’s sure sounds you are not. Did you not see this was a random draw in which Honduras was handpicked and lucked out to land in a not tough group in paper? Honduras did not choose and pick where they wanted to be so calling Honduras a jerk is as unfair as you calling yourself smart.

      • dws110 - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        No, that post obviously wasn’t serious. Try again.

      • footballer4ever - Dec 7, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        well, you are forgiven for acting silly then. 😛

  2. redbaronx - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Honestly I think Costa Rica got a worse draw then we did. Uruguay, England, and Italy??? Uruguay will also have their fans there. I don’t envy Costa Rica! To me they have the toughest draw from CONCACAF

    • mvktr2 - Dec 6, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      I tend to agree but am optimistic for Costa Rica as it would seem that at least one if not both England and Italy will find the conditions folding their hopes in short order. Whereas Costa Rica will be playing essentially in home field conditions.

      • redbaronx - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        @mvktr2 – I don’t know how you figure that at all. Costa Rica is an island nation that gets wind and breeze. They’ll be just as susceptible to heat like everyone else, but you also have to remember this the Brazilian “Winter” they’ll be playing in. Besides, England and Italy are way too strong to be influenced by “conditions” in the Group stage. I don’t see either of them giving up points to Costa Rica.

      • bishopofblunder - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        @redbaronx: I am not so certain that the conditions will not adversely affect the English and Italians. In the 1994 World Cup, Germany played a group stage match in Dallas, Texas, my hometown, and the Germans melted in the hot Texas summer sun. Fortunately for the Germans, they had built a 3-0 lead against South Korea in the first half and was just barely able to hold on for a 3-2 victory. In fact, if the Koreans hadn’t been such poor finishers, they could have easily won that game.

        Having said that, I still think both teams will be able to handle Costa Rica without too much trouble. But you never know.

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