The U.S. Men’s National Team has played in the last seven World Cups – one of only six nations in the world to accomplish that feat – and some people naturally assume that every four years the U.S. is just penciled into the bracket. Not so!
In fact, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup out of CONCACAF is a marathon. Since the current qualifying format was adopted for the 1998 tournament, the U.S. has had to play 16-18 matches spanning two years in order to book its place in the FIFA World Cup.
In the case of the current cycle, the MNT began its quest to qualify for Russia 2018 when it started play in CONCACAF’s Semifinal Round in November 2015. Having finished on top of a group that also featured Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the U.S. now finds itself in the CONCACAF's Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.
The six-team group, nicknamed “The Hex” (short for Hexagonal), pits the top two teams from each of CONCACAF’s three semifinal groups – in this case, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and USA -- in a home-and-away mini-league which began in November 2016 and concludes in October 2017. At the end of the 10-game schedule, the top three teams in The Hex automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile, the fourth-place team from CONCACAF will go into an intercontinental playoff with the fifth-place finisher from the Asian Football Confederation’s own qualifying tournament. The winner over two games will be 32nd and final entrant into the World Cup.
Got all that?
Here’s a breakdown of the 10-game schedule the MNT will have to navigate to qualify for its eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup, with a little history added in.
USA 1, Mexico 2 - Nov. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio
Having defeated Mexico 2-0 in each of its previous four Final Round matches played in Columbus, Ohio, the MNT went back to MAPFRE Stadium in November, where they fell 2-1 to a talented Mexico side.
A deflected effort from Miguel Layun gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute, before the U.S. suffered another setback when goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered a fractured right adductor while taking a routine goal kick and had to leave the match in the 40th minute. After halftime, the U.S. bounced back through Bobby Wood's 49th minute strike and had chances to push ahead that came up empty. Just as it looked like both teams would settle for a 1-1 draw, Mexico captain Rafael Marquez headed home an 89th minute corner kick from Layun to give El Trí all three points.
WATCH: U.S. Falls 2-1 to Mexico in November
Costa Rica 4, USA 0 - Nov. 15, 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica
Four days after falling to Mexico, the U.S. traveled to Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica for a match against Los Ticos. The MNT's success rate in Costa Rica had never been great and while the U.S. nearly went into halftime tied 0-0, but Johan Venegas pushed the home side ahead in the 44th minute. Costa Rica then added strikes from Cristian Bolańos and a brace from Joel Campbell to run out 4-0 winners.
In the days following the match, Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced by former MNT head coach Bruce Arena, who is charged with righting the ship for the U.S. to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
USA vs. Honduras - March 24, 2017
With just eight previous qualifying meetings, there’s much less history with Honduras than some of the MNT’s other Hex opponents. That said, Honduras does have its place in the USA’s World Cup Qualifying history thanks to its 3-2 victory in 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. That result ended the MNT’s then record 19-match home unbeaten streak in qualifying and also stands as the USA’s last home qualifying defeat. The team will enter Final Round qualifying riding a 30-match home unbeaten run dating back to that 2001 loss.
WATCH: Honduras hands the U.S. its first home World Cup Qualifying loss since 1985All-Time WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 5-2-1
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 2-1-0
Panama vs. USA - March 28, 2017
Having only first met Panama during qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. has become better acquainted with Los Canaleros in recent years. While qualifying visits to Central America are far from easy, the MNT has fared reasonably well in Panama, going 2-0-1 in its three contests at Estadio Rommel Fernandez. The most recent meeting will be fresh on the minds of Panama after the U.S. eliminated them from contention for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in heart-breaking fashion. With only a few ticks remaining on the clock and Panama’s dream of reaching its first World Cup moments from being realized, goals by Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson elevated the MNT to a 3-2 win on Oct. 15, 2013. Adding a bit of irony, the USA’s comeback win handed its nemesis Mexico a lifeline in their bid to advance to Brazil.
WATCH: U.S. eliminates Panama from World Cup contention in 2013
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-1
All-Time Away WCQ Records at Panama: 2-0-1
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago - June 7-8, 2017
The U.S. will be best acquainted with Trinidad & Tobago after facing the Soca Warriors twice in the semifinal round. While T&T has offered tough challenges over the years, the MNT has dominated the series overall. The 4-0 win in September in Jacksonville moved the USA’s all-time home World Cup Qualifying record to 8-0-1 against the Caribbean nation. The matchup will bring back fond memories for Jozy Altidore, who in the 2008 edition of the series became the youngest player in history to score a hat trick for the U.S. Men’s National Team, tallying all three goals in the dominating 3-0 victory on April 1, 2009, in Nashville, Tenn.
WATCH: Kljestan, Altidore, Arriola lead MNT past T&T in September
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 12-1-3
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 8-0-1
Mexico vs. USA - June 11-12, 2017
The second half of the cycle begins with the U.S. visiting Mexico and very likely the daunting Estadio Azteca. The heat and humidity of Mexico City in June combined with the 7,380 feet of altitude will certainly be payback for the potentially cold temperatures of Columbus in November. While the more than 100,000 fans packed into the arena create an even greater home-field advantage, the U.S. has put chinks in the armor in recent years. Having first earned a 0-0 World Cup Qualifying draw there in 1997, the MNT collected its first win against Mexico on their own soil in a 1-0 friendly win in 2012, and went on to secure a point from a 0-0 draw in 2013 during final round qualifying.
WATCH: U.S. earns crucial 0-0 draw at Estadio Azteca in 2013
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Mexico: 6-16-6
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Mexico: 0-13-2
USA vs. Costa Rica - September 1, 2017
Just as the United States has found little qualifying success in Costa Rica, so the story goes for Los Ticos on U.S. soil, where the MNT holds a 6-1-2 all-time advantage. Costa Rica’s last two qualifying visits have provided memorable moments. In 2009, Jonathan Bornstein’s game-tying goal in the 95th minute not only ensured the U.S. remained unbeaten in home World Cup Qualifying, but also helped Honduras leapfrog Costa Rica for CONCACAF’s third World Cup Qualifying place for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In March 2013, the U.S. earned a 1-0 home win against Costa Rica in a match dubbed the “Snowclasico” for its blustery winter conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. As field conditions worsened during the match, referee Joel Aguilar halted the game in the 55th minute to allow the stadium grounds crew to clear the lines on the field of snow. A gutsy performance saw the U.S. win 1-0 behind a first-half goal from Clint Dempsey as Costa Rica departed Colorado with jittery teeth and a bitter taste in their mouth.
WATCH: MNT grinds it out in the snow vs. Costa Rica
U.S. All-Time WCQ Record vs. Costa Rica: 6-10-3
U.S. All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Costa Rica: 6-1-2
Honduras vs. USA - September 5, 2017
Interestingly, Honduras is the only Hex opponent that the U.S. has won against on the road more times than they have at home. The series dates back to a 1-0 victory in San Pedro Sula in 1965 and has seen the U.S. earn two more wins at Estadio Olimpico – 2-1 in 2001 and a 3-2 result in 2009 in a game that feature two goals from Conor Casey and a Landon Donovan free – as well as a late penalty miss by Honduran striker Carlos Pavon - which clinched a berth for the United States at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Still, the U.S. will return looking to avenge its last meeting there. In the blistering heat of San Pedro Sula – matched only by the intensity of their fans both inside and outside the stadium – the United States suffered a 2-1 defeat to open the final round of qualifying in 2013.
WATCH: U.S. earns 2010 World Cup berth in San Pedro Sula
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Honduras: 5-2-1
U.S. All-Time Away WCQ Records at Honduras: 3-1-1
October 6, 2017 - USA vs. Panama
Historically speaking, the MNT will still be in need of points to qualify when they host Los Canaleros on Matchday 9. The U.S. has won all three of its previous home World Cup Qualifying matches against Panama, outscoring the Central American side 10-0 in process. Nonetheless, the USA must remain vigilant: Panama has earned two consecutive draws on U.S. soil and won the Third Place match of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in penalties. The 2004 meeting in qualifying added to the U.S. history books when after entering in the 65th minute, Eddie Johnson ripped off three straight goals to become the first player in MNT history to record a hat trick as a substitute. The U.S. ended with a 6-0 win.
WATCH: U.S. sees off Panama during 2013 Hex in Seattle
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-1
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Panama: 3-0-0
October 10, 2017 - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
In 1989, the MNT visited Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of World Cup Qualifying knowing that only a win would take the USA to its first World Cup since 1950. On that day, the task of winning away in Port of Spain was no foregone conclusion, and Paul Caligiuri’s “shot heard ‘around the world’ launched the modern era of U.S. Soccer. Flash forward almost 30 years, and anything less than three points there hasn’t met expectations. The MNT learned that lesson last November following a 0-0 draw in its semifinal round match at Hasely Crawford Stadium. With competition in CONCACAF at its fiercest, the U.S. could very well enter the final game of the Hex needing a result to book passage to Russia.
WATCH: Paul Caligiuri sends USA to first World Cup since 1950
All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 12-1-3
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Trinidad & Tobago: 4-1-2
Photos from the U.S. Men's National Team 4-0 loss to Costa Rica on Nov. 15 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The U.S. MNT battled through a physical and feisty match but ultimately succumbed to Costa Rica in its first away qualifier of the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.Read more
During the past few months, Lynden Gooch has become one of the most intriguing prospects for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Here are five things to know about the rising MNT winger.
Where It All Started
Born on Christmas Eve 1995 to an English father and Irish mother in Santa Cruz, Calif., Gooch has said he was kicking a soccer ball from the moment he could walk.
A long-time supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, his father also served as his club coach with a number of sides, including the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Santa Cruz Breakers.
“Without my dad, I wouldn’t be the player I am today,” Gooch said in a recent Facebook Live chat. “He brought me up to play with both feet and to be creative. I’m very thankful for what he’s done for me.”
As a 10-year-old, Gooch took a club trip to England where he scored a hat trick against Sunderland. That occurrence began a long-time connection with one of northeast England’s biggest clubs, with the Black Cats inviting the promising midfielder for training every spring and summer at the Stadium of Light.
After impressing on his trips to England, Gooch signed with the club’s youth academy in 2012, progressing from their U-16 side all the way up to the U-21s. A loan spell with Conference side Gateshead in early 2015 opened the door for his first team debut with Sunderland, which came in a 6-3 League Cup win against Exeter City on Aug. 26, 2015.
Gooch gained more first team experience with a loan to League One outfit Doncaster Rovers in January before returning to Sunderland this spring.
Under the guidance of David Moyes, who has also managed Americans Tim Howard, Brian McBride and Landon Donovan during their time in England, Gooch made his league debut for the club in this year’s season opener against Manchester City and earned Man of the Match honors in the club’s 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on August 21.
Capable of playing as a winger, second forward and in central midfield, the 20-year-old has been a constant in the club’s matchday squad through their early Premier League campaign.
Owing to his mother’s Irish heritage, Gooch’s first international call-up actually came from the Republic of Ireland’s U-18 squad in 2013. Though he played in a friendly match against Switzerland, the California-born midfielder always had his heart set on representing the United States, and two years later he helped the U.S. U-20s qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, though he didn’t make the final roster.
U.S. MNT Comes Calling
Despite missing out on the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Gooch’s play at Sunderland kept him on the radar of the U.S. Men’s National Team. His start to the 2016-17 English Premier League campaign earned him his senior team call-up for the MNT’s October friendlies in 2016 and would make his international debut when he entered for Kellyn Acosta in the 59th minute of a 1-1 draw with New Zealand on Oct. 11.
Recalled for the MNT’s November World Cup Qualifying matches, Gooch’s substitute appearance away to Costa Rica on Nov. 15 officially cap-tied him to the United States.
Growing up near San Jose, Calif., Gooch was able to watch budding American superstar Landon Donovan week-in and week-out during his time with the San Jose Earthquakes, and from afar always admired Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.
On a more personal level, the 20-year-old attacker also admitted he was a big fan of former U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu, whose nickname matches his own last name.
Learn more about Lynden Gooch by watching his recent Facebook Live chat:
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica (15 de noviembre, 2016) – Estados Unidos no pudo romper el maleficio de no poder ganar en Costa Rica, y cayó dolorosamente por 4-0 en su visita a territorio costarricense en su segundo partido del Hexagonal Final rumbo a Rusia 2018.
Lo más irónico de la derrota, es que fueron dos jugadores que militan en los cuadros canadienses de la MLS quienes le hicieron más daño a la selección que dirige Jürgen Klinsmann, quien realmente no jugó tan mal como dicta el marcador final pero errores defensivos muy puntuales se terminaron pagando muy caro.
Desde el arranque, ambas selecciones intentaron imponer sus condiciones. Y aunque Estados Unidos tuvo un mejor inicio controlando el esférico, las opciones más claras en la primera mitad fueron para los ticos.
Las primeras aproximaciones estadounidenses se dieron con centros al área y tiros libres cobrados por Fabian Johnson, pero con poca precisión. Mientras tanto, la selección ‘Pura Vida’ mostraba sus mejores cartas ofensivas con la combinación y conexión entre Christian Bolaños y Johan Venegas.
Bolaños le filtró el balón a Venegas, quien le hizo un túnel a John Brooks y definió con un punterazo. Posteriormente Bolaños le sirvió a Bryan Ruiz quien de espaldas al arco remató de media chilena. En ambas oportunidades Brad Guzan atajó monumentalmente, la primera con la pierna y la segunda con la cara.
Pero los agradables gestos técnicos no eran exclusivos de los locales. Christian Pulisic sacó a relucir su tremendo cambio de ritmo por el costado izquierdo del área rival, metiendo un servicio raso para Bobby Wood pero que Keylor Navas cortó. Imitando a la joya del Borussia Dortmund, pero por derecha, Wood igualmente desbordó y sacó un centro raso que superó al arquero del Real Madrid, pero al que no llegaron ni Jozy Altidore ni el mismo Pulisic para cerrar la pinza ante la desguarnecida portería tica.
Todo indicaba que al medio tiempo se irían empatados, pero al minuto 44, la conexión ‘canadiense’ de Costa Rica fue letal. Bolaños no dio por perdido un balón largo hacia línea de fondo por izquierda. El volante de Vancouver Whitecaps centro a primer poste y Venegas con un cabezazo cruzado abrió el marcador.
Ya en la segunda mitad, el goleador de Montreal Impact estuvo muy cerca de anotar su doblete y liquidar el encuentro, pero Guzan le achicó y con la pierna desvió el remate de Venegas.
Tras ese susto, la selección de las barras y las estrellas comenzó a empujar hacia al frente y a jugar cerca del área de los costarricenses con más frecuencia, aunque sin poder generar llegadas de peligro real.
Sin embargo, Costa Rica nuevamente fue letal tras tejer una jugada por la banda derecha a 20 minutos del final. Ruiz envió un servicio con parte externa al cual llegó Bolaños para rematar de cabeza y marcar el segundo de la noche y además consagrarse como el hombre clave del partido.
Ya con Estados Unidos desfondado, los locales aprovecharon para convertir el marcador en goleada. El más beneficiado fue Joel Campbell, quien había ingresado de cambio.
En un pelotazo largo, Brooks cometió un error que le permitió a Joel Campbell escaparse solo para marcar el tercero. Poco después, otro balón largo, dejó solo y su alma a Campbell mano a mano con Guzan, y no perdonó, anotando su doblete y poniéndole cifras definitivas a la pizarra.
Esta es la primera vez desde que se juegan los Hexagonales en las eliminatorias de CONCACAF que se iniciaron rumbo a Francia ’98, en que Estados Unidos tiene un inicio con dos derrotas y sin puntos. La remontada para el seleccionado estadounidense comenzará hasta el 24 de marzo cuando reciba a Honduras.
- Resumen de Juego de la Selección Masculina de Estados Unidos -
Encuentro: Selección Masculina de Estados Unidos vs. Costa Rica
Fecha: 15 de noviembre, 2016
Torneo: Eliminatoria - Copa Mundial de la FIFA 2018
Sede: Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica; San José, Costa Rica
Inicio: 9 p.m. ET
Asistencia: 35,400 (lleno completo)
Clima: 69 grados; mayormente nublado
Resumen de anotaciones: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
CRC 1 3 4
CRC – Johan Venegas (Cristian Bolaños) minuto 44
CRC – Cristian Bolaños (Bryan Ruiz) 68
CRC – Joel Campbell 74
CRC – Joel Campbell (Ronald Matarrita) 78
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 21-Timmy Chandler, 3-Omar González, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler; 23-Fabian Johnson (19-Graham Zusi, 77), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 13-Jermaine Jones (16-Sacha Kljestan, 74), 10-Christian Pulisic (11-Lynden Gooch, 70); 17-Jozy Altidore, 7-Bobby Wood
Suplentes no utilizados: 12-Ethan Horvath, 22-William Yarbrough, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 8-Alan Gordon, 9-Aron Johannsson, 14-Michael Orozco, 15-Steve Birnbaum, 18-Julian Green, 20-Cameron Carter-Vickers
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
CRC: 1-Keylor Navas; 3-José Salvatierra, 19-Kendall Waston, 2-Johnny Acosta, 4-Michael Umaña, 22-Ronald Matarrita; 7-Cristian Bolaños, 14-Randall Azofeifa (17-Yeltsin Tejeda, 70), 5-Celso Borges, 10-Bryan Ruiz (13-Rodney Wallace, 84); 11-Johan Venegas (12-Joel Campbell, 67)
Suplentes no utilizados: 18-Patrick Pemberton, 23-Leonel Moreira, 6-Pablo Salazar, 8-Bryan Oviedo, 9-Ariel Rodríguez, 15-Allan Miranda, 16-Leonardo González, 20-David Guzmán, 21-Marco Ureña
Director Técnico: Óscar Ramírez
Resumen estadístico: USA / CRC
Disparos: 6 / 15
Tiros al arco: 1 / 9
Atajadas: 4 / 1
Tiros de esquina: 4 / 2
Faltas: 13 / 12
Fueras de lugar: 2 / 1
Resumen de penalidades:
CRC - José Salvatierra (amonestación) minuto 9
USA - Timmy Chandler (amonestación) 11
USA - Jermaine Jones (amonestación) 37
CRC - Johnny Acosta (amonestación) 51
USA - Michael Bradley (amonestación) 55
USA - Jozy Altidore (amonestación) 71
Árbitro: César Ramos (MEX)
Árbitro Asistente 1: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Árbitro Asistente 2: Miguel Angel Hernández (MEX)
Cuarto Oficial: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)
Jugador del Partido Budweiser: Por anunciarseRead more
CHICAGO (Nov. 15, 2016) – U.S. Soccer, in conjunction with the U.S. Men’s National Team Players Association, is auctioning autographed, game-worn jerseys of from last Friday’s Hex opener against Mexico, the proceeds from which will benefit Veteran’s Service Organization Team Red, White and Blue.
As part of an extensive plan to involve the servicemen and women of all five branches, U.S. Soccer designed a unique set of jersey letters and numbers to pay homage to the military. The Veterans Day Font Pack featured a traditional stencil design and the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" watermarked in the body of the back number. Player kits were embellished with the Font Pack for the USA vs. Mexico clash and a limited number of kits are being sold exclusively through ussoccerstore.com. Both Men’s and Women’s sizes are still available.
An online charity auction launched today, Nov. 15, will last seven days, concluding on the afternoon of Nov. 22. The bidding will start at $200 for each jersey.
In addition to proceeds from the jersey auction, the donation to Team Red, White, and Blue will also include proceeds from the sale of the special-edition Font Pack.
Team Red, White and Blue is a veteran's service organization focused on enriching the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
Panini America is the official trading card partner of U.S. Soccer. Through Panini Authentic, the company’s memorabilia division, these match-worn and autographed U.S. Soccer jerseys have been authenticated, hologrammed and packaged for this special auction.
The U.S. MNT take on Costa Rica at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose tonight at 9 p.m. ET on beIN SPORTS and NBC Universo. Fans can also follow the game live on Facebook and Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.Read more