ExtraTime Radio Podcast
LISTEN: What goes well with grilling and the great outdoors? A little Labor Day soccer talk, of course. With Russia in the balance for the US national team, Andrew and Matt get together on a holiday morning to talk Hex and all the MLS action from the weekend. Subscribe now and "Like" our Facebook page so you never miss a show! Download this episode!
ESPN’s top number-crunchers have some data that might keep you from punching it just yet.
At least not until late Tuesday night.
Friday’s loss at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey effectively dropped the USMNT into a three-team race with Honduras and Panama for the CONCACAF region’s final one-and-a-half spots at Russia 2018. And the latest calculations from ESPN’s Soccer Power Index give the Yanks a sizeable advantage in that race:
So yes, the World Cup is still well within reach, with US odds more than twice those of their nearest pursuer. But as Paul Carr notes, a loss at Honduras on Tuesday would chop more than 20 percent off that figure, putting the Yanks right in the midst of a dogfight like few they’ve ever faced on this road.
With Mexico having already clinched their trip and Costa Rica right on the verge, that leaves only one more automatic qualification slot (third place in the Hex), while the fourth-place finisher will face an Asian team in an intercontinental playoff for one of the last spots at next summer’s big tournament.
The USMNT have the benefits of a hefty positive goal differential, a home match vs. Panama next month and a final game against basement-dwelling Trinidad & Tobago. But there’s precious little room for error remaining.