I’m a pretty even keel kind of guy. Not many things can take me from a state of calm to alternating degrees of panic and jubilation. United States Soccer does…and I love it. That’s one of the many reasons I’m very excited that U.S. Soccer’s 3-1 victory over Guatemala in front of a tremendous Kansas City crowd moved the team on to the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: The Hexagonal.
The Hex. The final six. We made it. Tuesday’s impressive 3-1 victory may have temporarily pushed aside the numerous concerns which cropped up during this surprisingly difficult third round of qualifying. The concerns are still there and frankly, they’re still going to be there when things kick off again in February. Let’s table them for now.
Who’s in? The winners and runners up of groups A, B and C from Round Three all comprise the final six. The United States (winner) and Jamaica (runner up) represent Group A. Mexico (winner) and Costa Rica (runner up) represent Group B. Honduras (winner) and Panama (runner up) represent Group C.
What’s next? These six nations will each play ten matches between February 6 and October 15, 2013, facing each nation once at home and once on the road. From there, the top three nations will advance directly to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fourth-ranked team in The Hex will then engage in a home-and-home playoff with the winner of Oceanic Football Confederation. The eventual winner of this series will then earn a spot in Brazil.
Let’s enjoy this. From 35 CONCACAF footballing nations, there are now six. We’re in that six. Breathe, relax and enjoy. Come 2013, we’ll be ready.