The first of the three games on October 6th is the most important. While Costa Rica vs Honduras is also a big matchup that day it does not overshadow this one because of its World Cup implications. The two nations are locked in a fight for the 3rd and 4th places. Here are the current standings:
Green = clinched World Cup bid
If Qualification were to conclude today Panama would be in its first World Cup and the USA would face the winner of the Australia-Syria playoff in Asia. Now let’s ponder the eight ways that the table could shake up on October 6th:
Scenario 1: Panama wins, Mexico wins, Costa Rica wins
If Panama wins and Honduras loses, Panama qualifies because the maximum that USA or Honduras could accumulate would be 12. Even with a loss to Costa Rica in the following game the minimum amount of points Panama could finish with would be 13. Nothing would change in the standings. Costa Rica and Panama would join Mexico in qualifying for the World Cup automatically while USA and Honduras would battle for fourth place.
Scenario 2: USA-Panama draw, Mexico wins, Costa Rica wins
In this scenario Costa Rica would be the only team to cement its place in next summer’s World Cup. Panama would be able to clinch a spot of their own with a positive result the following week. No major changes to the standings would occur. Third and fourth place would still be up for grabs.
Scenario 3: USA wins, Mexico wins, Costa Rica wins
Again, Costa Rica clinches a World Cup berth. USA move into the driving seat for third place. Panama and Honduras would duke it out for fourth place.
Scenario 4: Panama wins, Mexico-T&T draw, Costa Rica-Honduras draw
Standings would remain the same. Costa Rica would secure a spot. All of the top-four places are in play in Week 10 although only Mexico or Costa Rica could finish first.
Scenario 5: Panama wins, Costa Rica loses, Mexico loses
Not much to see here. Costa Rica clinches a berth and the standings remain unchanged.
Scenario 6: All matches end in draws
No major shake ups. Costa Rica is in. Panama, USA, and Honduras are left vying for third and fourth place.
Scenario 7: USA wins, Costa Rica-Honduras draw, Mexico-T&T draw
Costa Rica clinches berth. USA controls its own destiny.
Scenario 8: USA wins, Costa Rica loses, Mexico loses
Costa Rica misses out on clinching automatic qualification; however, it does secure a top-four spot, setting up what’ll surely be an exhililerating Week 10.
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The USMNT takes on Panama at 7:35 pm on Friday October 6th. You can catch the game on ESPN2.