CONCACAF World Cup qualifying wraps up this Tuesday with the final round of Hexagonal games. Mexico and Costa Rica have their spots locked up, but there is one automatic berth as well as the playoff berth still up for grabs, with the United States, Panama, and Honduras all in the running.
Honduras, currently 5th in the standings, will need a positive result when they host Mexico – as well as needing Panama or the U.S. to drop points – to move into either the automatic or the playoff berth.
They had to come from behind to do so, but Mexico remained unbeaten in World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 win against Trinidad and Tobago. El Tri, already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, remained in first place in the Hexagonal with the victory, while the Soca Warriors were already mathematically eliminated from contention.
With first place facing off against sixth – and nothing to play for for either side – it seemed like Mexico would keep on rolling with another home victory. However, although El Tri had had the better of possession and the run of play for the majority of the game, they weren’t able to turn those stats into goals, despite the encouragement of the vociferous partisan crowd packed into the Estadio Alfonso Lastras.
Mexico has already locked up qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but they’ll look to remain in first place in the Hex when they host Trinidad and Tobago on Friday.
The Soca Warriors are in last place in the standings to El Tri’s first, and they are clinging to qualification hopes by a thread. The best T&T can hope for is a fourth-place finish, which would see them go to the intercontinental playoff, and even that is a slim chance.
The roster is almost identical to the one that faced Panama and Costa Rica in September. Carlos Salcedo and Oribe Peralta are back after missing out last month due to injury, while Oswaldo Alanís and Miguel Layún also join the roster.
Mexico remained unbeaten in World Cup qualifying and mathematically guaranteed their spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 1-0 victory against Panama on Friday night. The loss saw the Canaleros drop into fifth in the Hex.
The first half saw El Tri dominate possession but fail to do much with it. José Calderón had little to do in goal for Panama as Mexico struggled to put their chances on frame. Halftime rolled around with the game still 0-0 and with antsy fans beginning to whistle and boo.
Mexico is unbeaten in World Cup qualifying and they’ll look to continue that streak when they host Panama in the Estadio Azteca this Friday. El Tri currently tops the Hexagonal with 14 points from six games, and a win against Panama could seal their spot in next summer’s event, depending on the result of Trinidad and Tobago vs Honduras.
As for Panama, they currently sit fourth – in the intercontinental playoff spot – with seven points. The Canaleros have scored just four goals in their six games to date, and they’ll be facing the stingiest defense in this one; Mexico has allowed just two goals in the Hex, both against the United States.
Ahead of September’s World Cup qualifying games, Mexico has launched another campaign in an attempt to quiet the homophobic goal-kick chant that is ubiquitous in its stadiums.
With the general “Abrazados por el Fútbol” (Embraced by Soccer) campaign, and the “Ya Párale” (Stop It Now) campaign – aimed specifically at ending the now infamous chant – not having an apparent effect, the newest effort is #GritaMéxico (Shout “Mexico”).
Momento de demostrar que tenemos la mejor afición…
The roster is missing some familiar names, with Oribe Peralta and Carlos Salcedo injured and Rafa Márquez dealing with his legal troubles. Miguel Layún, who is having trouble finding minutes with Porto, is also a notable absence. On the other hand, Jesús Manuel Corona is back on the roster after “Tecatito” missed the Confederations Cup for personal reasons.
After a surprise loss to Jamaica in the semifinals of the 2017 Gold Cup, Mexico will now look ahead to the resumption of World Cup qualifying in September.
El Tri was eliminated in the semifinal round of both of their summer competitions, the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup, and playing in both tournaments meant Juan Carlos Osorio had to make some difficult roster decisions to balance Mexico’s commitments.