Let's start off by being honest: The United States has no business
Bottom line: Four of these six CONCACAF teams -- the U.S., Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Panama -- will likely make it to the World Cup, and if the U.S. can't finish in the top four, well, then something's very, very wrong.
That's not to say everything will be easy for the U.S. in the 10-game tournament that starts Wednesday and continues through October. Cow-pasture fields, bush-league officiating, 2 a.m. fire alarms, in-stadium projectiles and good-old-fashioned Uncle Sam-bashing are just a few of the things U.S. players can look forward to on their peregrinations through Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. What's more, CONCACAF teams are deeper and better than we've usually seen in the past.
And more than ever for the U.S., there is also pressure from
This is what it's like to become a soccer country. And if that's the case, maybe the Spanish-speakers have it right. They don't call these games
On the one hand, the U.S. should feel lucky to be in CONCACAF, where qualifying is easier than in, say, Europe. But these 10 games and their attendant obstacles will give the four survivors the right to say they have earned their way forward. The collective idea of
But they'll be in those places during the Hexagonal -- supporting their U.S. team, enduring the scary atmosphere of Estadio Azteca and crossing a few more things (more
I've gone over and over these picks in my head over the past few months, changing my mind a few times, and here's how I see it playing out:
Check back for updates from San Pedro Sula leading up to the game ...