It’s do-or-die for Mexico and Panama as the last two games in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying among the six-team group are played today and Tuesday, Oct. 15. Mexico (8pts.) hosts Panama (8 pts,) on Friday, Oct. 11, in a match that could determine the fourth-place team to meet New Zealand in a home-and-away series for the final berth in the 2014 World cup in Brazil next summer. Group leader USA (5-2-1, 16 pts.) and second place Costa Rica (4-1-3, 15 pts.) have qualified and Honduras (11 pts.) is firmly in third place.
Mexico (1-2-5) brought in new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich for these last two games after only one win in eight games, a victory at Jamaica; it drew all its home contests so far, yet, its best chance for a win is at home against Panama (1-2-5). It travels to Costa Rica for its final match-up on Tuesday and it won’t be easy for the Tri Color since Costa Rica, despite already qualified, has named a the same full squad that helped it qualify.
Meanwhile, Panama’s last game is at home to the USA; if Panama, which drew with Mexico in the first qualifier, manages a draw in Mexico this time, which is quite possible – and not only because draws has been the trend at the Azteca Stadium, but remember that Panama beat Mexico twice in last summer’s Gold cup – then it will be upbeat and fancy its chances to defeat the USA at home. Another draw in Mexico leaves the Mexican hoping for a Panama failure at home, which is not a very comfortable position for the Mexicans.
In the other match-ups Friday, Honduras (3-3-2) hosts Costa Rica and the Hondurans will try desperately to hold on to that automatic third-place spot. It cannot afford to lose, because if either Mexico or Panama wins both their games and a win eludes Honduras, the Hondurans could be out of the automatic berth.
The USA hosts Jamaica (0-4-4, 4 pts.) in Kansas City. The Jamaicans must win both their games, the other is against Honduras in Jamaica Tuesday, and hope that Panama and Mexico fail twice to have a chance for a fourth place finish.
Jamaica has a new coach and new player in Jermaine ‘Tuffy’ Anderson, a 34-year-old who is the leading scorer in Jamaica Premier League with 10 goals; Anderson came off the bench in the second half to score and help the Reggae Boyz draw at home against Costa Rica in the last match. Jamaica, though, will be missing top goal keeper Donovan rickets, out with a broken finger. The Americans will be without Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, both out with injury. Among Jamaica’s top players are Ryan Johnson and Darren Mattocks of the MLS Portland Timbers and Jermaine Taylor from the Houston Dynamo along with top midfielder Rodolph Austin.
RED BULLS IN PLAY-OFFS
Going into Saturday night’s home game versus the New England Revolution (11-11-9, 42 pts.), the New York Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53 pts) needed only a draw to qualify for the MLS Cup play-offs and it came in dramatic fashion and required stoppage time after a very tense last five minutes in regulation. With seconds left in stoppage time, Tim Cahill came up with a header to give the Red Bulls a 2-2 draw and a play-off berth.
Leading 1-0 from Fabian Espindola’s goal in the 14th minute with five minutes to play, Lee Nguyen scored a penalty to tie the game for the Revs in the 85th minute after Jamison Olave was called for a hand ball in the New York penalty area; in the 90th minute, Diego Fagundez put the Revs ahead, 2-1, when he intercepted Red Bulls defender David Carney’s errant back pass.
With less than a minute to play, New York was awarded a free kick on the left side and Jonathan Steele chipped the ball across the New England goal, Revs goal keeper Mat Reis swatted the ball just outside the area where Cahill smartly headed it back into an open net for his team-leading 10 goal of the season and New York’s 10th play-off appearance in 11 years.
In other MLS games last weekend, Ike Opara’s goal in the 17th minute gave Sporting Kansas City a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew; Kleberson scored a 25-yard free kick for Philadelphia Union’s 1-0 victory over Toronto FC; Kenny Cooper scored for Dallas and Alvaro Saborio tallied for Real Salt Lake in this 1-1 draw; Deshorn Brown scored twice top lead the Colorado Rapids over the Seattle Sounders, 5-1. The Los Angeles Galaxy knocked off Chivas USA, 5-0; Chicago Fire topped DC United 3-0; Houston beat Montreal Impact, 1-0 and Vancouver White caps and the Portland Timbers played to a 2-2 draw. ;
CONCACAF U-17 WOMEN
The draw for the CONCACAF 2013 Women’s Under-17 Championship was held in Jamaica earlier in the week as the eight teams were separated into two four-team groups for play October 30-Nov. 9, 2013 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Host Jamaica was seeded into Group A with El Salvador, Mexico and Haiti. Group B has defending champion USA, Canada, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica and El Salvador will kick-off the tournament on October 30, and on October 31, a day later, the USA and Trinidad and Tobago will start play in Group B. The USA won the tournament in 2008 and 2012; Canada won in 2010….the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors will host the New Zealand All Whites in an international friendly on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.