This is the penultimate matchday in the octagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Canada, the United States and Mexico could all qualify on matchday 13; El Salvador, Jamaica and Honduras have been eliminated.
The final games will all kick off simultaneously at 20:05 (ET) on Wednesday night.
United States vs Panama
The United States can secure World Cup qualification, so will it be a night of relief and celebration in Orlando?
On Thursday night, Gregg Berhalter’s side battled to a goalless draw with fierce rivals Mexico at Estadio Azteca.
This continues USA’s unbeaten streak against el Tri having beaten them three times in 2021, including in the finals of both the Nations League and Gold Cup.
In terms of this campaign, it could also be an important point for the Stars and Stripes.
That’s because the U.S. remain second in the octagonal standing, three points clear of Costa Rica who occupy the inter-confederation play-off spot.
So, if the United States better Costa Rica’s result, they are away to El Salvador, the U.S. will qualify before travelling to San José on Wednesday.
Panama meanwhile make the trip to the sunshine state following a draw that could cost them World Cup qualification.
In midweek, despite taking the lead through Rolando Blackburn, they could only draw 1-1 with bottom of the table Honduras at home.
This is a major set back for Thomas Christiansen’s side who’ve slipped down to fifth in the table, one point below Costa Rica.
Also, Panama welcome group leaders Canada to Estadio Rommel Fernández on Wednesday, so now need wins from fixtures against the top two.
If Panama are beaten in Orlando and Costa Rica win in San Salvador, los Canaleros’ hopes of top four finish will be over.
Panama did win the reverse fixture in October but have only ever beaten the U.S. twice in 16 away games against them.
Who will claim three massive points at Exploria Stadium?
Canada vs Jamaica
Will this be the day that Canada end their 36-year World Cup exile?
The Canucks have so far played 18 matches in this cycle, winning 13 of them, so sit top of the octagonal table.
However, on Thursday night, John Herdman’s side lost for the first time in this qualification, going down 1-0 at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.
Nevertheless, the Reds are six points clear of fourth, so need just a point in Toronto to guarantee they’ll be going to Qatar in November.
Canada are unbeaten in ten home matches, winning nine, including victories over Mexico in Edmonton and the U.S. in Hamilton in the last four months.
So, will les Rouges get the point they need to secure an historic qualification?
Jamaica meanwhile haven’t appeared at a World Cup since France ’98 and that isn’t going to change later this year.
The Reggae Boyz have only won once in 12 matches, beating bottom of the standings Honduras 2-0 away back in October.
On Thursday night, they were held to a 1-1 draw by El Salvador at Independence Park with Andre Gray netting a second half equaliser.
The reverse fixture in Kingston between these two finished goalless, meaning Jamaica are actually unbeaten in three competitive meetings with Canada.
But, this is a different Canadian national team and one that’ll be confident of victory at BMO Field.
Honduras vs Mexico
Will this be the night Mexico rubber stamp their place at Qatar 2022?
On Thursday night, Tata Martino’s men played out a generally uneventful goalless draw with rivals USA at Estadio Azteca.
This point leave el Tri third in the octagonal, level on points with the U.S. and three below leaders Canada.
More importantly, Mexico remain three points clear of Costa Rica who occupy the inter-confederation play-off spot.
So, if Mexico better Costa Rica’s result, they’re away to strugglers El Salvador, Martino’s men will guarantee a top three finish.
Given that el Tri haven’t failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1982, this was the minimum expectation.
Honduras have qualified for three World Cups to date, including 2010 and 2014, only missing out on Russia after a play-off defeat to Australia.
However, this campaign has been catastrophic for la H who are yet to win in the octagonal round, amassing just four points in total.
Hernán Darío Gómez’s side did at least end their seven-game losing streak by drawing in Panama on Thursday; Kevin López with the equaliser.
But, los Catrachos have now won just two of their last 18 competitive fixtures, both coming in last summer’s Gold Cup group stages.
Mexico won the reverse fixture 3-0 in October, meaning they’ve won eight of their last 13 against Honduras, losing just twice.
The away side should claim the victory that could get them over the line at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano.
El Salvador vs Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s World Cup destiny is firmly back in their own hands after a very profitable Thursday night.
Three nights ago, Celso Borges’ goal in first half stoppage time was enough to down group leaders Canada 1-0 in San José.
This, coupled with Panama’s surprise draw with bottom of the table Honduras, saw los Ticos leap up to fourth in the standings.
Luis Fernando Suárez’s side are now just three points below both Mexico and the United States, hosting the latter in the final game on Wednesday.
So, if Costa Rica win their final two matches, it could come down to goal difference to see if they’re going to a third straight World Cup.
Even if they can’t gatecrash the top three, Costa Rica need to ensure they, at least, take fourth which yields an inter-confederation play-off spot.
With a, potentially, huge clash against the U.S. to come, will Costa Rica avoid a less than timely slip up in San Salvador?
El Salvador’s only World Cup appearances remain 1970 and 1982 and this isn’t going to change later this year.
La Selecta have only won two matches in this group, beating Panama in October and Honduras in January.
Hugo Pérez’s side did at least hold Jamaica to a 1-1 draw in Kingston on Thursday with Eriq Zavaleta opening the scoring there.
Nevertheless, Costa Rica should claim the victory at Estadio Cuscatlán that’ll set up a tasty final day.
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