Dec 6, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
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.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:42 PM EST
Chelsea players weren’t happy with the weekend training schedule, so Mourinho fixed it for them. Now it’s even worse.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Neil Warnock is reportedly close to becoming the first managing casualty of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Dec 26, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
11 names make up one team after half of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Dec 26, 2014, 5:58 PM EST
“I believe that Cristiano will finish his career at Real Madrid.”
Dec 26, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
Many high-flying striker arrivals in MLS can be met by a fair bit of caution, but Vancouver should be quite dangerous if Rivero can make it work.
Dec 26, 2014, 4:26 PM EST
Ronald Koeman is happy to be back in a Champions League place, but sees long road ahead for Southampton.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
Brendan Rodgers feels Liverpool’s Old Trafford defeat may have been a turning point in the Reds’ season.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:19 PM EST
The Red Devils scored three but could’ve netted quite a few more in an easy win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Recaps, reaction, analysis and more from all 10 games in the PL on Boxing Day.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:23 PM EST
The Gunners climbed to within two points of fourth-place Southampton.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Citizens not thinking about Chelsea, as their rampage continues.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:50 PM EST
The loss allowed Stoke to climb above the Toffees, who sit in 12th place.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:40 PM EST
New injury for Argentine ace, who suffers another setback.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:05 PM EST
Chelsea skipper, manager delighted with spirit.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:42 PM EST
Plenty of Premier League and Major League Soccer names are at play in today’s rumor mill.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:20 PM EST
Potters seal vital win, as Toffees lose two-straight for the first-time this season.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:11 PM EST
Citizens stroll to victory in snowy conditions.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:11 PM EST
Goals from Gaston Ramirez and James Chester allowed Hull City to make up for an ugly first-minute embarrassment and pull them out of the relegation zone.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:03 PM EST
Another set-piece beauty from Gylfi Sigurdsson put Swansea through for their first back-to-back wins since August.
Dec 26, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Lloris was called upon several times late, and even bloodied by a late charge, but preserved the win.
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