USA, Costa Rica in toughest groups from 2014 World Cup draw
It looks like host country Brazil and rival Argentina will have easy paths to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup next summer, while the United States is in the “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, a team the USA faced in the quarters in 2010 and will open against in June. Things aren’t much easier for Costa Rica in Group D as the Ticos are paired with Uruguay, England and Italy.
The World Cup will open with a bang as defending champion Spain will kick off play with a 2010 championship rematch vs. the Netherlands, while Brazil will open against Croatia. Germany, meanwhile, will become the first team to reach 100 World Cup matches when they face Portugal five days later.
Making their seventh straight appearance at the World Cup, the Americans were drawn into Group G and will open on June 16 in Natal against Ghana, which eliminated the Americans from the last two World Cups. With the longest travel schedule of any World Cup team at almost 9,000 miles, the U.S. meets Portugal and Cristian Ronaldo on June 22 in the Amazon rain forest city Manaus. The Americans close group play on June 26 in Recife against Germany, which beat the U.S. in the 2002 quarterfinal.
Germany is currently ranked No. 2 in FIFA’s world rankings, and Portugal is No. 5. Ghana, ranked No. 24, is the only squad in the group with a worse ranking than the No. 14 Americans although the Black Stars have eliminated the U.S. team in each of the past two World Cups. Only two teams in each group advance out of pool play, so that means the Americans will need a minor miracle to advance. If they do, they’ll face either the winner or runner-up in Group H, which is made up of Belgium, Algeria, Russia, and South Korea.
The Americans have advanced past the group stage in three of the last five World Cups, including a quarterfinal loss to Germany in 2002. They defeated Portugal, 3-2, in the group stage that year to advance to the knockout round. The U.S., which also lost to Ghana in 2006, is 7-17-5 in 29 World Cup matches.
Fellow CONCACAF teams Mexico (Brazil, Croatia, Cameroon) and Honduras (Switzerland, Ecuador, France) both did better than the United States.
None of the previous seven World Cups held in the Americas, starting with the first edition in Uruguay in 1930, was won by a European team. Brazil, as hosts, then Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay are all the seeded teams due to the world rankings for the month of October 2013.
If the favorites are to move through, the elimination round will have Brazil, Colombia, Switzerland and Germany on one side, and Spain, Uruguay, Argentina and Belgium on the other. Both Brazil and Argentina received favorable draws, and should move through easily.
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
Bet on the World Cup at WagerWeb
So, The Main Stadium For The World Cup Collapsed…
The 2014 World Cup is looking quite… unstable: A horrific accident occurred this afternoon at the Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil as a support crane fell and took out a section of bleachers. Three people are confirmed dead. Rescue crews believe more are trapped in the wreckage.
Corinthians stadium was slated to be turned over to FIFA next month, fully completed. The stadium was also set to host the opening game for the 2014 World Cup next Summer.
World Cup qualifying odds: New Zealand at Mexico
Mexico has the United States to thank for having a chance of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup as El Tri begins a home-and-home playoff against visiting New Zealand on Wednesday with Mexico as a big -520 WagerWeb favorite. The Kiwis are +1500 and a draw at +580.
Mexico last missed the World Cup in 1990 but would have if not for a gift from the Americans just to reach this stage. The U.S. scored two late goals to defeat Panama, sending the Mexicans to the playoff. Otherwise, Panama would have advanced and Mexico would have been out. Mexico played poorly during qualifying, struggling to score and finishing behind the U.S., Costa Rica and Honduras — the three earned the automatic berths from the CONCACAF region.
El Tri has gone to extraordinary measures in hopes of reaching Brazil, bringing in Miguel Herrera to handle the two-game playoff in the latest of a series of coaching changes. Herrera, the coach of the Mexican club America, has overlooked the country’s Europe-based players, like Manchester United’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, one of the best players in the world, and is going with players from Mexico’s domestic league. Ten of the 23 players called up by Herrera play for Club América, who Herrera guided to the 2013 Clausura title in the Liga MX and left comfortably in first place before taking over Mexico.
Herrera also stuck to his usual approach of naming which players will start the day before the game, confirming that Moises Munoz gets the nod in goal. The Mexico team, playing a 5-3-2 formation, will be: Munoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Rafa Marquez, Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Medina, Luis Montes, Carlos Pena, Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez.
The All Whites topped their World Cup qualification group in Oceania with six wins from as many games, to earn the two-leg date with the fourth-placed nation in CONCACAF qualifying. However, their upcoming battle on Wednesday stands in stark contrast to their most recent qualifying clash – a 2-0 win over the Solomon Islands in front of 5,600 people in Honiara. The Estadio Azteca in Mexico City has a capacity of 105,000, is perched 7,200 feet above sea level and will be packed full of locals doing their utmost to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the visiting Kiwis. All Whites captain Winston Reid will miss the clash due to an ankle injury sustained while training for Premier League club West Ham.
Further disadvantaging Ricki Herbert’s side is that Mexico have lost just one qualifying match at the venue in their history – a 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica in 2001 – making New Zealand’s chances of taking a lead to the second leg in Wellington the following week all the more difficult. That said, Mexico has just one win and three goals in its past four home matches.
“Arguably in my tenure and as a player, this would be the most difficult qualification game that New Zealand’s ever had. So yep, there needs to be improvement,” Herbert said.
A draw would be a terrific result ahead of the return fixture at Westpac Stadium, as New Zealand aims to reach consecutive World Cups for the first time. New Zealand had three draws in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup — the only side in the tournament not to lose a match — and this team is considered better.
World Cup qualifying soccer odds: Mexico at United States
It’s the greatest soccer rivalry in North America on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio, and it’s a must-win World Cup qualifying match for a desperate Mexico side, but the United States opened as a +150 WagerWeb favorite to take one more big step toward Brazil in 2014. Mexico is +205 and a draw at +220.
The Mexicans were humbled 2-1 at home by Honduras on Friday night and José Manuel de la Torre was fired as manager of Mexico’s national team hours after the loss. The loss by Mexico at Azteca was only the second in 77 World Cup home qualifying games. With three matches left in qualifying, Mexico is fourth among six nations, 1 point ahead of Panama and 6 behind first-place Costa Rica, which defeated the United States, 3-1, on Friday.
The new manager is Luis Fernando Teña. He has been around for a while and is the mastermind of the greatest sports triumph of Mexican national teams: the winning of the Olympic gold medal in 2012. De la Torre, who is known as Chepo, took over Mexico’s national team in 2011 and led the team to the Gold Cup title that year.
The United States saw its record unbeaten streak end by Costa Rica. Jhonny Acosta and Celso Borges scored as Costa Rica burst ahead in the first nine minutes, Joel Campbell added a goal on a late counterattack, and the Ticos beat the visiting United States. Avenging a March loss to the U.S. in a Colorado snow storm, Costa Rica ended the Americans’ team-record 12-game winning streak — three short of the world mark set by Spain.
Clint Dempsey, making his 100th international appearance, converted a penalty kick in the 43rd minute for the U.S. and nearly tied it with a 20-yard shot off a post in the 56th minute. The Ticos (4-1-2) moved into first place in the final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 14 points, one ahead of the U.S. (4-2-1) with three games remaining.
United States midfielder Michael Bradley has been ruled out for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico. The U.S. will also be without striker Jozy Altidore and defenders Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler, who are suspended after picking up yellow cards against Costa Rica.
The past three home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico have been held in Columbus, where the United States has posted three consecutive 2-0 victories. The United States has never lost in nine games at Columbus Crew Stadium (6-0-3). The U.S. is undefeated (4-0-2) in six straight home qualifiers against Mexico, last losing in 1972. Overall, the USA is 16-32-13 all-time in international competition against Mexico and 5-15-6 in World Cup Qualifying. The USA’s 61 previous meetings against Mexico are the most against any country in U.S. Soccer’s history. Since 2000, the USA has posted an 11-5-4 record against Mexico, including a 9-2-3 record at home during that span.
World Cup soccer odds: United States at Costa Rica
The United States looks to keep its record unbeaten streak alive and get one step closer to clinching a spot in next year’s World Cup in Brazil when they visit Costa Rica on Friday, with the Ticos opening as slight favorites on WagerWeb.
The USA currently sits in first place in the Final Round of qualifying, collecting 13 points from six matches. There is a scenario in which the U.S. could qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup following the Costa Rica match. In order for that to occur, the U.S. must beat Costa Rica, Mexico must tie Honduras, and Panama must lose or draw against Jamaica.
The U.S. is riding a record-setting 12-match winning streak that began June 2 with a 4-3 victory against then second-ranked Germany in the Centennial Celebration Match and includes three wins in World Cup Qualifying and six straight victories en route to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. The Americans have never won a Cup qualifier in Costa Rica.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has added Michael Parkhurst to the roster in place of Brad Evans, who suffered a calf strain in a recent MLS game for Seattle against Columbus. Parkhurst started in five of six matches in the USA’s run to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, including the final.
USA star striker Jozy Altidore has been cleared to resume workouts after a full evaluation from the medical staff. An MRI evaluation of his right hamstring was normal. He should play. Altidore was forced to sit out Sunderland’s 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace over the weekend with the injury. Altidore has scored in his last five matches for the United States, becoming the only player in U.S. history to accomplish this feat. He is coming off a Man of the Match performance in the USA’s 4-3 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina, in which he scored three goals and recorded an assist. Clint Dempsey’s seven goals in this qualifying cycle leads all U.S. scorers.
American star Landon Donovan also will play. The USA’s career leading goal scorer didn’t play in the first six matches of the CONCACAF final qualifying phase, taking time off from soccer to clear his head. Donovan was Most Valuable Player in the Gold Cup, scoring five goals and playing with a joy and energy that wasn’t always there last year.
The USA and Costa Rica last met in mid-July in the Gold Cup in Connecticut. Brek Shea played the hero, scoring his first international goal in the 82rd minute for the only goal of the match. The Ticos had posted seven consecutive shutouts since falling to the U.S., 1-0, in a blizzard outside Denver at the end of March in Cup qualifying. Dempsey scored that goal for the USA.
World Cup qualifying odds: Honduras at United States
The United States can all but lock in their qualifying spot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil if they can beat Honduras in Utah on Tuesday night — Honduras handed the Americans’ their only loss in qualifying so far, however. The USA opened as a big -240 favorite this time on WagerWeb, with Honduras opening at +625 and a draw at +290. Check our current lines.
The U.S. (3-1-1) leads the qualifying group with 10 points, the lone defeat coming 2-1 at Honduras in February. Honduras (2-2-1) won’t have several key players from that win due to suspensions, injuries and team turmoil. For example, forward Jerry Bengtson has left the national team in a spat over being benched for Los Catrachos’ last game against Jamaica. Bengtson’s complaints and attitude reportedly irked his teammates as well as manager Luis Fernando Suarez, who opted to start Roger Rojas in his place. Rojas wound up scoring the second goal in the 2-0 victory that put Honduras into fourth place in the CONCACAF hexgaonal.
While Honduras traveled to San Jose, Calif., to train ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Americans at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, Utah, Bengtson reportedly flew back to the Boston area to link back up with his MLS club, the New England Revolution.
Bengtson, whose seven goals lead Honduras in World Cup qualifying, is just the latest key player to not be available for Suarez. His two top-choice center backs, Victor Bernardez (suspension) and Maynor Figueroa (injury), are set to miss out, while midfielder Luis Garrido is also suspended and winger Oscar Boniek Garcia is reportedly a doubt with an injury of his own. All five players started in Honduras’ 2-1 win over the USA in San Pedro Sula to open the hexgonal, with Garcia feeding Bengtson for the game-winning goal on Feb. 6.
American striker Jozy Altidore has become a model of consistency this month: After going scoreless in 17 of 18 U.S. appearances, he has recorded goals in three consecutive matches, beginning against Germany in a June 2 friendly at RFK Stadium. Each of his goals during this stretch has come in the first half and provided the lead en route to victories. Midfielder Jermaine Jones has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion in the 2-1 triumph at Jamaica. Nine U.S. players are carrying a yellow card, and with another Tuesday they would miss the Sept. 6 match at Costa Rica.
Rio Tinto Stadium is hosting a World Cup qualifier for the second time. In 2009, the United States defeated El Salvador, 2-1, on goals by Clint Dempsey and Altidore. The United States is 22-0-2 in its past 24 home qualifiers, the last loss coming to Honduras in 2001 in Washington.
World Cup qualifying odds: Panama at United States
The United States can take a gigantic step toward qualifying for the World Cup next year in Brazil with a victory over Panama in Seattle on Tuesday night, and the Americans are sizable favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Americans beat Jamaica 2-1 on Friday, the first ever World Cup qualifying win for the Americans in that country. The Americans gave up an equalizer in the 89th minute before defender Brad Evans scored his first National Team goal with a slick finish in extra time for a 2-1 win against the Reggae Boyz. U.S. forward Jozy Altidore tallied the first goal in the 30th minute, powering home a header off a Graham Zusi cross from the right wing. The first half strike seemed like it would be enough for the victory until Jermaine Beckford darted free behind the USA’s restraining line to head home an 89 th-minute free kick from six yards out.
Team USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started the same 11 players he sent out against Germany in a 4-3 victory on June 2, and the critical three points earned on the road put the USA into second place in the Hexagonal with two home World Cup Qualifying matches. The Americans also face Honduras next week in Utah.
Two key players will sit Tuesday’s match out. Panama’s top scoring threat, Blas Pérez, didn’t make the trip due to gastroenteritis. Pérez has been in good form for Panama and FC Dallas, and his likely replacement, Rolando Blackburn, is something of a downgrade.
But the U.S. is missing its own regular starters. Right midfielder Graham Zusi, who has been so effective crossing balls to Jozy Altidore for goals of late, is out on a yellow-card suspension. Meanwhile, central midfielder Jermaine Jones tweeted late Sunday that he will miss Tuesday’s game after suffering a concussion in the win against Jamaica on Friday.
Seven players are now carrying yellow cards into this qualifier: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Evans and Fabian Johnson. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
Panama has a real chance of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in its history, especially with the possibility of four CONCACAF teams making it to Brazil.
“I think they match us physically, which is tough for us,” said U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. “We’ll try and figure that out. We handled it the last time we played them down in Houston [a 1-0 semifinal win in the '11 Gold Cup].”
The United States has a five-game winning streak in Seattle, and is unbeaten when playing in the home of the Sounders. The U.S. enters the match sporting a 23-match unbeaten run in qualifying at home, the 21-0-2 record dating back to 2001.
The United States holds an 8-1-2 lifetime record against Panama, including a 7-1-1 record on U.S. soil. A total of 10 of the 11 meetings between the two teams have come in either the CONCACAF Gold Cup or FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The teams last met in a friendly for the first time, a 1-0 win on Jan. 25, 2012, in Panama City. Zusi scored his first international goal while Jermaine Jones captained the young team.
World Cup qualifying odds: USA at Mexico
Off a crucial win in a blizzard over Costa Rica, the United States could take a big step toward qualifying for next year’s World Cup by winning where they almost never do: at Mexico, which opened as a -180 favorite on WagerWeb.com for Tuesday’s match. Check our current lines.
Mexico drew their first two matches, at home to Jamaica then away to Honduras, while the Americans lost their opening match in Honduras before battling to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Denver. Clint Dempsey’s first-half goal was his 12th in World Cup qualifying, tying him with career scoring leader Landon Donovan atop the U.S. charts. Meanwhile, Mexico labored to a scoreless draw against Jamaica but then looked back to their best on Friday, at least for 70 minutes. Striker Javier Hernandez scored two superb goals before Honduras replied with two of their own in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw.
The Americans have the added weight of history against them, having never won a World Cup qualifier at the intimidating Azteca Stadium. But In the most recent meeting, the U.S. earned its first victory on Mexican soil, a 1-0 international friendly win on Aug. 15, 2012. Michael Orozco Fiscal scored his first international goal in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Tim Howard made three saves – including two late stops – en route to the historic victory. Howard remains out for now, however, due to injury.
“It won’t be like the friendly we had in August, when it was a half-full stadium,” said veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who plays his club soccer for Liga MX side Puebla. “This game will be 110,000, for sure. It’s our biggest rival; it’s a qualifying match; and they have to get a win. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
In addition, U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones has been ruled out. He sprained his ankle against Costa Rica. Jones did not travel with the team to Mexico. Jones received the injury in the first half, which required two stitches during the interval. He continued play until being subbed out in the 83rd minute.
In the 100-year history of the American program, El Tri has been the Yanks’ most frequent foe, holding a 32-16-12 record all time versus the Americans. The sides have become increasingly competitive over the past dozen years. Since 2000, the Yanks lead the series 11-5-3, and they also eliminated El Tri from the 2002 World Cup. But the pendulum has swung back recently — the U.S. has only one win in the adversaries’ past five meetings.
In a way, the Yanks will be playing with house money in this one. With that 0-12 all-time record in qualifying matches south of the border, it’s no secret that the U.S. is expected to lose. And after Mexico squandered a two-goal lead and had to settle for the tie in Honduras on Friday, suddenly all the stress is on the still-winless hosts.