Let the games begin! - Marc Serota
Happy Hexmas, everybody!
It is that time, that special time that comes around once every four years. I'm talking, of course, about the hexagonal round in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, and today is the first match day in the 10 game series to determine which three to four teams are going to the World Cup next year.
First up that will be of interest to readers is Honduras vs. the United States in San Pedro Sula. Here's the not-so-good news: the game is early, starting at 1 pm PT today, and it will be broadcast on beIN sport. If you have nothing to do this afternoon, and have the channel on your system, great! If you are like most of us, however, you'll have to make do as best you can.
The United States is coming off a disappointing 0-0 draw with Canada last week to conclude the annual January camp, and while some of the players from that game will be on the roster and may see playing time, most of the big names are back in the fray for this competitive match. However, the opponent can't be taken lightly. Honduras of course went to the World Cup in 2010, along with the U.S. and Mexico, but it can be argued they were even stronger in 2012, and will want to maintain that form this season. Considering each team's form heading into the match, don't be surprised by a draw or Honduras win. However, Honduras will be missing a couple of players, including former D.C. United midfielder/defender Andy Najar, and may struggle a bit as a result. Either way, it is the start of the journey for both sides, and the first of two meetings in the hex this year.
In the second match that will likely be relevant for readers is Mexico vs. Jamaica tonight. Jamaica has basically decided to retool the squad, which sounds crazy except for the fact that they are regarded as probably the weakest of the six teams remaining, and they probably figure they should just go all out on trying to qualify. That, coupled with the fact that Mexico remains pretty strong after yet another fantastic year in 2012, means that Mexico will be expected to win at the Estadio Azteca. Any other result is going to be a big surprise.
The good news for those who are interested in watching is that it will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. PT, so presumably after many folks get out of work, and it will be available in English on ESPN2, and in Spanish in Univision Deportes and UniMas.
Which game(s) will you be watching today? Got a prediction in mind? Leave a comment below!