United States Men's National Team: Breaking Down the Next Stage of Qualifying
The United States advanced to the final round of World Cup qualifying by topping its group in the previous round.
The U.S. finished out strong with a 3-1 victory over Guatemala on October 16. The victory, coupled with Jamaica's win, moved the Jamaicans in to the second position in the group to advance to the next stage.
The next, and final, stage is simply known as the Hex.
This is how the Hex breaks down as the U.S. looks to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
How It Works
Six nations will play a home-and-home series from February 6, 2013 to October 15, 2013.
Those six nations in hexagonal stage are: Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and the United States.
FIFA will schedule the matches on November 7.
The top three teams will qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Whoever qualifies in the fourth position from CONCACAF will take on Oceania's first-place nation for the final spot. Those two teams will meet in a two-match series to determine who moves forward.
How Everyone Got Here
Costa Rica advanced in the second position in Group B with a total of 10 points and a 3-1-2 record. Both losses came at the hands of the Mexicans. Costa Rica picked up two victories over Guyana, and a win and a draw versus El Salvador.
Honduras topped Group C by virtue of goal difference. They ended with 11 points. The group victory can be directly attributed to the shocking 8-1 victory over Canada in the last match. It was enough to catapult them ahead and eliminate Canada altogether.
The Jamaicans posted 10 points to finish second in Group A and crept by Guatemala in the final match via goal difference. They defeated Antigua and Barbuda 4-1, while the U.S. defeated Guatemala 3-1 in the final matches. They had a plus-three goal difference to Guatemala's plus-one.
Mexico dominated Group B. They achieved the maximum 18 points with a perfect 6-0 record against the other three nations in the group.
With Canada's loss to Honduras and a draw against Cuba, Panama squeaked by to the next round of qualifying. They matched Honduras' 11 points but finished second on goal difference. They will be happy just to move forward.
The U.S. had an up-and-down qualifying run, but they still managed to come out on top in Group A with 13 points. The 4-1-1 record was good enough to send them to the Hex. The final three matches proved critical, as the U.S. nabbed three straight victories with a pieced-together roster.
The winner of the Hex will probably be Mexico. They should continue to roll.
If the U.S. can play up to their potential and not have the letdowns their had in the previous round, then they should find themselves comfortably qualified for the World Cup.
With two of the three spots accounted for, that leaves one spot left. That final slot will be hotly contested between Honduras, Jamaica and Panama.
After defeating Canada 8-1, Honduras will enter with more confidence for the Hex and be a very dangerous side. I think they will do enough to slip into that third slot and leave Panama fighting for its World Cup dreams against Oceania's first-place side.
If everything goes according to plan, the U.S. should move on without much issue. They will need to continue to improve throughout this final round of qualifying if they want to be a threat in Brazil in 2014.