The U.S. enters MatchDay 7 of the final round Hexagonal in first place in the group, and with the outside chance of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It would equal the earliest the team has advanced, matching the performance from the 2006 cycle. So how has the team fared on this date in the campaign in the previous four cycles? Let's go to the history books. Or the MNT Media Guide, as it were ...
Oct. 3, 1997 - USA v. Jamaica - RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
After Tab Ramos famously scored the game-winner in the 1-0 victory against Costa Rica on Sept. 7, 1997, in Portland, the U.S. hosted Jamaica in the nation's capital. Eric Wynalda converted a penalty in the 49th minute, but Jamaica's Deon Burton pounced a minute later and the team's split points from the 1-1 draw. The result meant the MNT needed four points from the last three games to qualify. They went on to earn the historic 0-0 draw in Mexico City, then sealed the deal with a 3-0 win against Canada in Vancouver.
Sept. 1, 2001 - USA v. Honduras - RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
The U.S. came out flying in the final round, going 4-0-1 and leading the group halfway through. After a loss in Mexico, the U.S. hosted Honduras back at RFK. With a surprisingly partisan pro-Honduras crowd, Earnie Stewart put the U.S. ahead before Honduras came storming back in a match that also included a penalty miss for the MNT. Losing 3-2 at home and then again in next match in Costa Rica, the United States went in to MatchDay 9 in Foxboro facing the possibility of elimination, and also the chance to advance. Joe-Max Moore made sure the U.S. came through.
Sept. 3, 2005 - USA v. Mexico - Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
With memories of the first 'dos a cero' four years earlier, the most anticipated game of the Hex kicked off in Columbus. The Gooch staredown set the mood, then a Steve Ralston header and a clever DaMarcus Beasley finish put the United States through to Germany with another 2-0 win against Mexico, confirming Columbus as the home of USA-Mexico.
Sept. 5, 2009 - USA v. El Salvador - Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
The U.S. ping-ponged through wins at home and losses on the road in the previous four matches, and had already picked up one road point in El Salvador entering the visit to the home of Real Salt Lake. Going down a goal just past the half hour mark, Clint Dempsey leveled terms fire minutes before the break and then Jozy Altidore put the U.S. up for good as they went on to collect a 2-1 victory. Landon Donovan became the USA's all-time leader in World Cup Qualifying appearances that day, and his Budweiser Man of the Match performance helped lift the U.S. into second place in the group. It would also be Donovan's free kick in the 3-2 win in Honduras on MatchDay 9 that proved the game-winner and the goal that secured the team's place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.