Life&Culture

USA striving to avoid World Cup playoff vs Syria or Australia

USA striving to avoid World Cup playoff vs Syria or Australia

Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Osorio's Mexico, who have already qualified, have another chance to fine-tune their performance ahead of Russian Federation 2018.

"People can come in and say it's just another game, but the reality is it's not just another game", winger Paul Arriola said.

Hacked down several times by Panamanians, Pulisic was removed in the 57th minute and walked off to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium, which opened in February, Wood added his 10th worldwide goal off a pass from Arriola.

All hope isn't lost, though. I am putting the best center backs with the most talent on the ball back there for the USMNT and that means Omar Gonzalez and his brick feet are gone and off the pitch.

The US men's national team takes on Panama in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying clash this Friday.

Notes: First-place Mexico, which clinched last month, rallied to beat visiting Trinidad 3-1 on goals by Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernández and Hector Herrera after Shahdon Winchester had put the visitors ahead.

In the second half Panama came out with renewed vigor and a new goal: beat the living tar out of Christian Pulisic.

While the fourth-place playoff remains an option, the squad is focused on its pivotal matchup with Panama.

For a long time, it looked like the Socceroos, struggling for peak form and bumped into the fourth round of Asian qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, was on a collision course with the United States. Thanks to the blowout win, the USA turned the tables on Panama, which is now in fourth.

Costa Rica is in if it wins or draws with Honduras.

This puts in impetuous on the Americans to take six points in the final two matches.

Nations qualify for the World Cup by doing just that.

"This team went from 0-2 in November with a minus-five goal differential, we're now at plus-what, five, right?" After a week in which many wondered what would happen if the USA failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986, the discussion changed on Friday.

Although the USA tied Panama in their game in Central America in March, American fans are justifiably concerned. Arena dared his opponent to overload Michael Bradley in front of the US back line, then hit Panama in the gaps that their forward momentum (and curiously high defensive line) left behind. Panama was out, and Mexico was the one that would face New Zealand. Putting him through 90 minutes of tough competition twice a week is taxing on the veteran.

With two wins and two losses on American soil, the USMNT has shown that its home matches aren't the "easy wins" they've been in recent years. Now, with two games to play, the Americans need big results to go directly to Russian Federation. The top three teams get the region's automatic berths.

The USMNT closes out the qualifying group on October 10 at Trinidad and Tobago. If the U.S.is as aggressive as it was on Friday, the objective will be achieved.

That can be an attractive bit of motivation for small Concacaf teams, however, especially when there is a chance to ding the mighty United States. A win against Panama brings it up to 93 percent, a draw brings it down to 63 percent, and a loss gives them a 44percent chance.

After an 0-2 start in qualifying, the USA climbed back into contention before last month's 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica in Harrison, New Jersey. This Friday's game really is a toss-up and could be decided by a lucky bounce.

Panama will be just as eager to come away with at least a point from the game, now holding a direct World Cup spot in third place with 10 points. Right now soccer is growing at a rapid pace and the World Cup will be a great opportunity to speed up the growth even more.

Only hours are left before the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF zone commence.

"I suspect they're just going to be a handful because they have nothing to lose".


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