Mexico (pictured) trains at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica, on September 3, 2017. (Photo: Mexsport)
The final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup continues Tuesday with a trio of Matchday Eight games. Mexico has already booked its ticket to Russia. If host Costa Rica beats the Hexagonal table topper at the Estadio Nacional, it will claim the second of the confederation’s three automatic berths.
CONCACAF.com offers one thing to keep an eye on for each of the six teams:
HONDURAS (4th place, 8pts., GD-7) v USA (3rd place, 8 pts., GD+1), 5:36 p.m. ET
Honduras: Scored before 10 minutes passed in each of its last two WCQs, which ended in a draw (2-2 away v Panama) and a win (2-1 away win v Trinidad & Tobago. Can another early goal lead to a third straight positive result?
USA: Forward Jozy Altidore, who has a team high six goals in 2018 WCQ play, is suspended. How will the U.S. address that loss? Altidore, however, has not scored in the Hexagonal.
COSTA RICA (2nd place, 14 points, GD+7) v MEXICO (1st place, 17 pts., GD+8), 10:05 p.m. ET
Costa Rica: Conceded one goal or fewer in 12 of 13 WCQs. The only team to score more than one was Mexico in a 2-0 home win on March 24, 2017. Can Costa Rica shutdown the Mexicans offense and seal a World Cup spot?
Mexico: With a World Cup berth clinched, it will be interesting to see if head coach Juan Carlos Osorio makes changes to his starting lineup. Mexico has completed a Hexagonal in first place only once (1998). Is doing so again a priority?
PANAMA (5th place, 7 pts., GD-1) v TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (6th place, 1 pt., GD-8), 10:05 p.m. ET
Panama: If Panama is to give itself a fighting chance in what looks like a potential three-team race for the last direct qualifying place and the playoff spot, a win at home over last-place Trinidad & Tobago could be essential. The problem: Panama has lost each of its five all-time WCQs against the Soca Warriors, all by shutout.
Trinidad & Tobago: Four straight losses have dented Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup hopes. It has not scored more than one goal in any Hexagonal game, while allowing two in each of the last three. The fact that the Soca Warriors are 5W-0D-0L all-time against Panama should boost the Caribbean power. Is there enough belief to reinvigorate the campaign?