If you’ve been following the USA’s exciting run to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, then you know the scenarios in which head coach Bob Bradley’s troops can qualify on Saturday. If you don’t, then wipe off that red, white and blue face paint, put away your American flag cape and break your vuvuzela in half. Or…read on.
The USA will qualify for South Africa 2010 on Saturday with a win in Honduras, a tie coupled with a Costa Rica tie or loss at home against Trinidad & Tobago, or a Costa Rica loss. Given the difficulty for a visiting team to get one point in Costa Rica, never mind three, the fact that T & T are eliminated already, and that Honduras has not lost at home in 2010 qualifying, the pundits will think it unlikely that the U.S. will qualify this weekend.
But that, as we say, is why they play the games. For proof of that, let’s rewind…
Back in 2001, the U.S. faced a similarly implausible scenario that had parallels to this year, one that also involved our friends from the two-island nation in the Caribbean getting a result on the road. Here’s how it went down:
Going into Matchday 9 on Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. was in fourth place in the group. Costa Rica sat in first with 19 points, Honduras 14, Mexico 14 and the U.S. 13. In order for the U.S. to advance that day:
- The U.S. had to beat Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium outside of Boston
- Trinidad had to beat Honduras in Honduras AND Mexico and Costa Rica had to draw (in this scenario, Mexico and Honduras would both have 14 points. They would play each other in the last game, which meant only one team could catch the USA if three points were earned against the Reggae Boyz)
At the time, T & T had just one point in qualifying and were long since eliminated. In the U.S game, energetic forward Joe-Max Moore scored to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in just the 4th minute. Ten minutes later, Jamaica equalized on a goal by James Lawrence. The game progressed for nearly an hour before Landon Donovan was taken down in the penalty area and Moore converted the spot kick in the 81st minute, leading to a 2-1 victory. Meantime in Honduras, a goal by Stern John in the 61st minute stunned the home side, and miraculously T & T held on for the 1-0 win. Costa Rica and Mexico played to a 0-0 tie, and once word of the results filtered through to Boston, the U.S. celebrated wildly on the field in Foxboro.
Surely, there are many moving parts here, not to mention the final match of qualifying on Oct. 14 against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium in which the U.S. could also earn its berth, but there are 90 minutes to be played in two Central American countries on Saturday, the outcomes of which could produce a glorious case of déjà vu for the Americans. Stay tuned…