2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Most Important Upcoming Matches

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 3:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of USA watches before the start of their game against Canada during their international friendly match on June 3, 2012 at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

World Cup qualifying has been underway for a while, but it's easy to forget that given how much space is between each match.

Finally, we are almost ready to get underway again.

The next set of matches features a handful of important contests for several squads. Group standings are jumbled in some instances, leaving important qualifying spots up for grabs heading into the last few matches for each team.

Let's take a look at three important, upcoming matches.


Antigua and Barbuda vs. USA

The United States bounced back to defeat Jamaica in the second matchup between the two squads, inspiring some confidence in their squad in the process.

Team USA is tied with Jamaica and and Guatemala atop Group A. If they want to advance to the next round of qualifying, they must earn four points in their final two matches.

With Guatemala looming in its final match, the United States must earn a win over Antigua and Barbuda. That way, it can play for the tie in its final game.

Jurgen Klinnsman left Jozy Altidore off the roster for this game, surprising some fans. The Americans' offense will try to justify that choice.


Honduras vs. Panama

Honduras is two points behind Panama in the Group B standings, making a win completely necessary if they wish to win the group.

After this, Honduras must play Canada. Winning that game will be easier, but beating Panama must happen for that game to be relevant.

Panama is a talented, but inconsistent, squad. The last time these two teams met, Panama won 2-0.

Honduras enters this game coming off a 1-0 win over Cuba. If they can repeat that defensive success, they could avenge their loss from last time.

Expect a very competitive match here, with a lot on the line.


Colombia vs. Paraguay

This match is only important to Colombia, but it's important nonetheless.

Paraguay is dead last among South American qualifiers. Colombia is one point behind Argentina for the group lead.

Colombia will have its shot at the talented Argentinian squad later on, but they must defeat Paraguay first. It won't be an easy task, given that the Paraguayan squad has absolutely nothing to lose.

Colombia seems to be getting better and better. It's a very talented squad offensively, having scored 12 goals in qualifying action thus far. Paraguay, who struggles mightily on defense, shouldn't be able to contain them for 90 minutes.

This match could be lopsided, but don't be surprised if Paraguay hangs around. With nothing to gain, they'd love nothing more than to hand Colombia a disappointing loss.