CONCACAF Nations League Update

After two match days done, there have been surprises. The only non surprise is Canada beating Cuba twice by an average margin of 3.5 goals. The first game that they played was not even a contest because Canada obliterated Cuba 6-0 in Toronto.  The biggest surprise is two fold. One is El Salvador in its complicated situation lost to the Dominican Republic in Santiago de los Caballeros. The other was Panama losing at home against Bermuda three days after wining in Hamilton, Bermuda. Here’s why those two results impact the Hex:

Current FIFA Rankings, September 19th, 2019

Those results mean that joining Mexico, US, and Costa Rica as the teams qualified to the Hex, Jamaica has clinched a spot in it. This is because of the margin between Canada (7th ranked nation in CONCACAF) and Jamaica (4th ranked nation in CONCACAF) is over 100 points. Not only that Jamaica doesn’t have that much of hard games remaining whereas Canada needs to play a home and away series with the United States. Moreover, even with Honduras really playing one home and away series with Trinidad and Tobago which is more important than Martinique they are 37 points away from Canada (Martinique is not a part of FIFA, therefore they do not count for calculations).

The team that in my mind with 100% certainly  is not going to be in the Hexagonal, rather be in the group of 29, it would be Les Grenediers or Haiti. Mainly because they lost the series against Curacao and also because they need to face Costa Rica twice.

Again it is worth talking about who has it the easiest to be in the Hex in June, 2020. That is El Salvador. The schedule they have is to play: at Monserrat, at Saint Lucia, vs Dominican Republic and vs Monserrat. But frankly I cannot with 100% certainty say that they are going to be in the Hexagonal or even the Gold Cup. Carlos de los Cobos, the Salvadorian boss, lost the locker room. The same locker room that he hand picked. So, all in all I’ll give them a generous 70% of making it to the Hex.

Canada is in a weird place because they are trending up but they have to play the United States twice. Whereas from Haiti, because they won both games against Cuba they may have a chance. Since El Salvador is in free-fall which is not typical for them, Canada has a young core that may challenge the United States. If Andres Guardado didn’t go off that game, they would have drawn against the best team in CONCACAF, not only that their team has grown from the 2017 Gold Cup when they lost to Jamaica in the 90 minutes in the Quarterfinal. All of that makes it that I think they would split their series with the United States and pending another improvable loss from El Salvador they can make it. To give you a sense of how close this is, they are only 6 points away from the Hex, which means that if they win a game against the United States and El Salvador loses to any team in their group they would be in it.  Since there is a locker room divided in El Salvador, I can give the Canucks a 25% chance of making the Hex.

As far as Curacao is concerned, I give them a 3% chance of making it. Pending any other friendlies and their timing, Curacao needs to win both games against Costa Rica and have El Salvador and Canada not wining any more games to be in the Hex. Right now Costa Rica is going to have a new head coach, which is not something to bank of it. However the last game that Los Ticos played, they narrowly lost to Uruguay which is in the top ten without a head coach. Canada is hot right now but that was against Cuba and El Salvador is in an easy group in comparison to their level. That is why I gave them 3%.

Panama is mostly done. This is mainly because they lost to Bermuda at home and they have to play Mexico twice, once at home and once at the Azteca. If I can sum up the series history that Panama has with Mexico, it is one of a landslide for the Aztecas. Mexico hasn’t lost at home since 2013 when they lost to Honduras and before that in the famous Aztecazo to Costa Rica in 2001. That’s right two loses in a span of 30 years, and non were against Panama. The only saving grace is the fact that they scheduled relatively easy friendlies which are high-risk and high-reward due to the new FIFA formula. Not to mention they need a lot of results go their way.  That is why they have a 2% chance rather than the 0.5-1% chance I originally thought.

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