World Cup 2014: What Are the US's Chances of Qualifying at This Point?
Well. That was a bit depressing.
Going in, Friday night's match between the United States men's national soccer team and an up-and-coming Jamaican side looked like a good test for an American team coming off a historic victory in Mexico City.
Still, few saw the Jamaicans' domination coming. I mean, after settling down from that first-minute goal, Jamaica really controlled the play and fully deserved their 2-1 victory.
What made the loss even worse was the coverage it got in the USA.
To start, the match was covered by BeIn Sports, the network that has the rights to La Liga (Spain's league) and Ligue 1 (France's league) and is on only a few cable providers (yes, I'm a bitter Verizon subscriber).
If that wasn't bad enough, those who actually did have the channel were also unable to see the US play as the network apparently ran the Argentina-Paraguay match instead of the scheduled Jamaica-USA match.
Now don't get me wrong: watching Messi and Argentina play against an underrated Paraguay is a fantastic alternative. However, for a World Cup qualifying match to get so little coverage in one of the nations' home countries is appalling.
Anyway, back to the soccer.
After the loss to Jamaica, there is one obvious question that springs to mind.
What does this mean for our hopes of qualifying for the World Cup?
If you do not follow soccer obsessively and do not know what this means to our hopes, do not feel too bad. Many avid followers of the sport have trouble following all of the action in the quest to make it to a World Cup.
You see, qualification is broken down by continent, and seeing as each continent has a different number of nations with different skill levels, each has a different procedure in determining their representatives. (After all, we wouldn't want to see the same number of teams from Oceania as from Europe).
Where are we in the North American qualifying?
The qualification process for North America is currently down to twelve nations that are split into three groups.
After each team plays each other twice (home and away), the top two finishers in each group go to the final round of qualifying.
There, the six teams each play each other twice, with the top three going directly to the World Cup and the fourth playing a playoff against an Oceanic team to be determined to get in.
Where does the US stand in their group now?
After Friday's matches, the group is now halfway done.
The US now sits tied with Guatemala in second place on four points (one win, one draw and one loss).
Jamaica sits in first with seven points (two wins and a draw).
Antigua and Barbuda are at the bottom now with just a point (one draw, two losses).
So what are the US's chances of qualifying to the World Cup?
This is clearly a hard question to answer, what with there being a whole round of qualifying after this one.
What I can answer, though, is the chances of the US qualifying through this group and to the final round of qualifying.
That, I'm glad to say, is very strong.
You see, America has already gotten the hard matches out of the way. Their draw with Guatemala and their loss to Jamaica both happened away from home.
Jamaica has already proved that their play on the road is not as good as that at home through their 0-0 draw with Antigua and Barbuda.
Further, the US has a long history of distinctly stronger home-form than away-form.
Look, no loss is good.
But barring disaster, the US are still on the same track to the World Cup than the one they were on before Friday.
What do we have to look forward to?
Do you think the US will make the World Cup?
The US continues their push toward the World Cup Tuesday in a rematch with Jamaica.
The match will be at 8:00 pm EDT Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
The best news of all? The match will be on ESPN2.
Thank God it's Ian Darke.
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