The Hex: the US Men’s national team’s route to Russia 2018

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The US Men’s National team has a tough road ahead to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. They have made it to the final round of qualifying for the CONCACAF region. The hex (hexagonal), is made up of six countries. Each play 10 games, two against each other countries. The top three countries from the group qualify automatically to the World Cup, while the fourth plays in a inter-confederation playoff games. The US has two games coming up in the next five days and these games are crucial.

USA lost their first two Hex games this past November. Losing to Mexico 2-1 in Columbus Ohio, something that’s never happened before, then going to Costa Rica and losing 4-0. The US Men’s National team sits in an unfamiliar place, last place. They will need to turn it around in these two upcoming games. The Hex games are played in the FIFA international breaks scheduled into most of the World’s soccer leagues. Which is why the games are that much more crucial and harder to prepare for.

The last World Cup qualifying break, was the last overseen by former coach Jurgen Klinsmann. His poor selection of players, didn’t produce on the field, so he was relieved of his duties. Bruce Arena has stepped into the Men’s National team role, hoping to get more for the players he picks. He had some slim pickings for this current round of games due to injuries, but look for more on that in our preview of the upcoming USA matches. How Can the USA get past this rough patch and qualify for Russia 2018?

Current Hex Standings:

Pos Team GP W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1
 Costa Rica
2 2 0 0 6 0 6 6 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
2
 Mexico
2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
3
 Panama
2 1 1 0 1 0 1 4
4
 Honduras
2 1 0 1 3 2 1 3 Advance to inter-confederation play-offs
5
 Trinidad and Tobago
2 0 0 2 1 5 −4 0
6
 United States
2 0 0 2 1 6 −5 0

As You can see USA has a lot of work to do to move up the table, but wins against Honduras and Panama would set them up nicely going forward in the Hex. The next set pf qualifiers isn’t until June, which make these current games so important. Friday’s game versus Honduras has been labeled a must win, and if the US fail to do so many will view them as-good-as-dead. The US Men’s National team still has six games after these current ones finish, so they could find a way to qualify even if they don’t do well this time around. However, it is likely that most of the hope of qualifying lies on these two games agaisnt Honduras and Panama. Here’s a look at the  entire Hexagonal schedule:

Entire Hexagonal Schedule:

Nov. 11, 2016 USA 1, Mexico 2
Nov. 11, 2016 Honduras 0, Panama 1
Nov. 11, 2016 Trinidad & Tobago 0, Costa Rica 2
Nov. 15, 2016 Costa Rica 4, USA 0
Nov. 15, 2016 Panama 0, Mexico 0
Nov. 15, 2016 Honduras 3, Trinidad & Tobago 1
Mar. 24, 2017 USA vs. Honduras
Mar. 24, 2017 Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama
Mar. 24, 2017 Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Mar. 28, 2017 Panama vs. USA
Mar. 28, 2017 Honduras vs. Costa Rica
Mar. 28, 2017 Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
Jun. 9, 2017 USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Jun. 9, 2017 Costa Rica vs. Panama
Jun. 9, 2017 Mexico vs. Honduras
Jun. 11, 2017 Mexico vs. USA
Jun. 13, 2017 Panama vs. Honduras
Jun. 13, 2017 Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Sep. 1, 2017 USA vs. Costa Rica
Sep. 1, 2017 Mexico vs. Panama
Sep. 1, 2017 Trinidad & Tobago vs. Honduras
Sep. 5, 2017 Honduras vs. USA
Sep. 5, 2017 Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Sep. 5, 2017 Costa Rica vs. Mexico
Oct. 6, 2017 USA vs. Panama
Oct. 6, 2017 Costa Rica vs. Honduras
Oct. 6, 2017 Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 10, 2017 Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
Oct. 10, 2017 Panama vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 10, 2017 Honduras vs. Mexico

The process of World Cup qualifying is a tough road, but with grit comes glory. If the US Men’s National team can find a way to string results together they will be able to compete in Russia 2018!

The game versus Honduras is tonight at 10:30 EST on Fox Sports 1. The US will look to right their recent World Cup Qualifying wrongs. Their roster looks like this ahead of tonight’s match:

 

U.S. MNT Roster by Position (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0)*, Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 33/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (10): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 33/6), Matt Besler (Sporting KC; 10/1)*, John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER; 2/0),  Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 19/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 12/0), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 2/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas; 0/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC; 15/3)*

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 1/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 6/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 31/5), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy; 16/0), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls; 18/2)* Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 3/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 5/2)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 34/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 36/13), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, 0/0)*

* David Bingham replaced Brad Guzan, who is expecting the birth of his second child in the coming days, on March 16. Graham Zusi replaced Fabian Johnson who withdrew on March 17 after suffering a hamstring injury. Sacha Kljestan replaced Bobby Wood (back injury), while Matt Besler was also added on March 19. Chris Wondolowski was added to the roster on March 20.

This squad has talent, but also lost players who were ready to rise up due to injury. Never the less, these players will have to be ready for the task at hand. Here’s who I think Arena will pick as his starting 11 tonight:

Howard; Villafana, Brooks, Gonzalez, Cameron; Nagbe, Bradley, Bedoya, Pulisic; Dempsey, Altidore.

I see the USA going with a 4-4-2, and getting a 2-1 win in San Diego tonight! Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for a recap of the World Cup qualifier, and a look at how the Union are doing with their week off. Until then, peace out!

 

Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

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