The USMNT could seal a berth in the 2018 World Cup as early as next week if everything breaks correctly.
Bruce Arena has recalled his top side for this week’s World Cup qualifying matches, and for good reason: the U.S. has a chance to clinch a berth for 2018 if everything breaks correctly.
The U.S. hosts Costa Rica on Sept. 1 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey before heading to face Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Sept. 5.
With four matches to go in qualification, the CONCACAF table is as follows: Mexico sits in first with 14 points, Costa Rica is second with 11 points, and the U.S. is third with eight. In fourth sits Panama with seven points, Honduras is in fifth with five, and Trinidad and Tobago is in last place with three points.
A top-three finish is needed to auto-qualify, and finishing fourth means a playoff round before qualifying.
It’s a little unlikely, but here’s how the USMNT can lock in next year's trip to Russia as early as next week.
How the USMNT can qualify
1) The U.S. wins both its games in this window, beating Costa Rica and Honduras, giving it 14 points.
2) Trinidad and Tobago draws Honduras Sept. 1 and beats Panama Sept. 5.
These results would clinch a top-three spot in the qualifying hexagonal and leave the U.S. seven points ahead of whichever team is in fourth place, with two games left to play in qualification (the final round is in October).
This involves a difficult road win for the U.S. and a tough home victory, not to mention the last-place team pulling out positive results in specific fashion, but it’s not impossible. It’s more likely that whatever happens this week will determine the stakes for the Americans’ Oct. 6 match against Panama, and the Oct. 10 tilt with Trinidad and Tobago.