Wednesday, November 16, 2011

World Cup Qualifying Schedule Released for USA

Seems like just the other day that we were watching the 2010 World Cup, but qualifying for the 2014 Tournament in Brazil is already upon us. Today schedules for Round 3 of CONCACAF qualifying were released and the U.S. finds themselves in a group with Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda. The U.S. will play each team in their group twice with the top two teams from each of the three groups advancing to the next round. Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guyana make up Group B while Honduras, Cuba, Canada and Panama make up Group C.
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Jamaica is obviously the biggest threat in the U.S.'s group, but in 18 meetings, the U.S. has never lost to them going 10-0-8. That said, the U.S. has never won on Jamaican soil during World Cup Qualifying drawing all 4 matches between the two teams. The two teams last met in this summer's Gold Cup in the Quarterfinals in a match the U.S. won 2-0 on the strength of goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey.
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While Guatemala has the lowest FIFA ranking out of any of the teams in Group A, they certainly aren't a team that the U.S. can overlook. In 21 matches between the two sides, Guatemala actually has won 4 and drawn 5 others. The Guatemalans looked strong in the second round of qualifying going 6-0 in a group that consisted of Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Guatemala outscored their opponents 19-3 in the round.
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Antigua & Barbuda are a bit of a wild card as the United States has never faced them. Currently ranked 90th in the world, they too turned in a strong showing in the second round going 5-1 and finishing ahead of Haiti, Curaçao, and the U.S. Virgin Islands while tallying 26 goals, the most of any time in the round. Peter Byers, who plays professionally for the Los Angeles Blues of the USL Pro Division (the league below the A League) led the way with 8 goals while Tamarley Thomas chimed in with 6 goals of his own.
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The U.S. will open up play on June 8th against Antigua & Barbuda at home. Here's a look at the U.S.'s qualifying schedule:

6/8/12 - vs Antigua & Barbuda
6/12/12 - @ Guatemala
9/7/12 - @ Jamaica
9/11/12 - vs Jamaica
10/12/12 - @ Antigua & Barbuda
10/16/12 - vs Guatemala

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