Kellyn Acosta, Romell Quioto- USA, Honduras - Close up
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How the USMNT can secure a top-three finish in the Hexagonal

There is no getting around it: The US national team are in a tricky spot heading into their final two World Cup qualifiers.

A Sept. 1 loss to Costa Rica and a draw at Honduras four days later left the Americans in fourth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings, one point behind Panama – whom they face on Friday (7:30 pm ET; ESPN2, Univision, UDN) – for the region’s third and final automatic World Cup place:

  PTS W L D GF GA GD
Mexico - x 18 5 0 3 11 3 +8
Costa Rica 15 4 1 3 12 5 +7
Panama 10 2 2 4 7 5 +2
United States 9 2 3 3 12 11 +1
Honduras 9 2 3 3 9 16 -7
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 7 0 4 15 -11

A fourth-place finish and the attendant intercontinental World Cup playoff against Australia or Syria is a real possibility. A fifth-place finish and missing Russia entirely is less likely, but still feasible.

Of course, the US do have several paths to finishing in the top-three. Here are the scenarios in which they'd clinch a spot in Russia following their final Hex matches against Panama and then at Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 10:

US win both remaining matches

If the US defeat Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, they’ll finish in the top-three of the Hex if:

  • Honduras lose/draw one of their remaining matches at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10

OR…

  • Honduras win at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10, but don’t catch the US in goal difference (HON GD: -7; US GD: +1)

OR…

  • Costa Rica lose vs. Honduras on Oct. 5 and at Panama on Oct. 10

US win vs. Panama, draw at Trinidad & Tobago

If the US win vs. Panama and draw at Trinidad & Tobago, they’ll finish in the top-three of the Hex if:

  • Honduras earn fewer than four points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10 or win but fail to catch the US on goal difference (PAN GD: +2; US GD: +1)

OR…

  • Honduras earn four points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10 but don’t catch the US in goal difference
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10 or win but fail to catch the US on goal difference (PAN GD: +2; US GD: +1)

US draw vs. Panama, win at Trinidad & Tobago

If the US draw vs. Panama and win at Trinidad & Tobago, they’ll finish in the top-three of the Hex if:

  • Honduras earn fewer than four points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10

OR…

  • Honduras earn four points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10 but don’t catch the US in goal difference
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10

US win vs. Panama, lose at Trinidad & Tobago

If the US beat Panama and lose at Trinidad & Tobago, they’ll finish in the top-three of the Hex if:

  • Honduras earn fewer than three points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10

OR…

  • Honduras earn three points at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10 but don’t catch the US in goal difference
  • AND…
  • Panama lose/draw vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 10

US draw both matches

If the US draw both Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, they’ll finish in the top-three of the Hex if:

  • Honduras earn two points or fewer at Costa Rica on Oct. 5 and vs. Mexico on Oct. 10
  • AND…
  • Panama lose their final match and don't pass the US in goals scored

The US cannot finish in the top-three if they lose vs. Panama, draw vs. Panama but lose at Trinidad & Tobago, or if they lose both matches.