Jun 30, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto FC forward Ryan Johnson (9) congratulates New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara (18) after the end of their game at BMO Field. The FC and Red Bulls tied 2-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

CONCACAF Hex World CUP Qualifying Preview: Game One

Most of us are looking forward to the U.S. National Team versus Honduras later today, but there are two other matches taking place in the hex.  We will have more on that match up in a different post.  However, Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez named his starting eleven for tomorrow’s match earlier yesterday.

Noel Valladares
Víctor “Muma” Bernárdez
Maynor Figueroa
Juan Carlos García
Arnold Peralta
Roger Espinoza
Luis Garrido
Mario Martínez
Boniek García
Jerry Bengtson
Carlo Costly

That lineup includes five current or former players from MLS.

In other matches Jamaica looks to yield the upset against Mexico and Costa Rica takes on a dark horse Panama.

The Reggae Boyz are considered underdogs as they head into Mexico for the match slated to start at 9:30 pm eastern.  The high altitude at Estadio Azteca is a major concern for Jamaica, a team that has lost 16 of the last 20 meetings with El Tri.  Mexico has not conceded defeat in their home land.  The Jamaican players arrived in Mexico in four different waves.  Ryan Johnson expects a different attitude than he has seen over the last couple years with the Reggae Boyz.

It was just … unprofessional. The way the games were approached, the way the whole tournament was approached.  We have guys that hold themselves at a higher standard. Just having that is going to be a completely different environment for this Jamaican team.

Jamaica finished off in the distance in the Caribbean Cup and will miss the Gold Cup this year.  The roster looks very different now.  Meanwhile the Mexican National Team is stacked and ranked highest in the confederation.  Carlos Salcido is now playing midfield and has done great in his new role. As a staple of the attack Chicarito should have ample opportunity to score.  Marco Fabián and Andrés Guardado will also join the attack against Jamaica.  Mexico outscored its opponenets 15-2 in the semifinal round so clearly the offense is clicking.  The only question will be if they start veterans or go with youth on the back line.  At this rate anything other than a Mexico win would be a shock.

Panama hosts Costa Rica in a match that starts 30 minutes prior to the match in Mexico.  Costa Rica is the third most historically successful country in CONCACAF after Mexico and the United States, but Panama has been on an upswing.  Panama is the only team in the final six that has yet to qualify for a World Cup.  Blas Perez will lead the attack but this is a team that plays in a structure and does not try to do to much.  They know what they are capable of and play a hard defensive game.  In the words of Perez,

We work hard, very hard. There’s a union, a harmony in this Panama team. We don’t fight with each other, we’re not greedy, and when we enter the pitch, we do it as one. Our solidarity is our strength.

Costa Rica missed the World Cup in South Africa by conceding in stoppage time of the last hex match during the last cycle.  Alvaro Saborio and Bryan Ruiz lead the attack with Saborio being the clear team leader on a team in a bit of a generational transition.  The midfield is where the question lies.  If either team can secure a victory in this match it would put them in a prime position to finish third or fourth to get in the World Cup playoff.

Tags: Concacaf Hex Honduras Mexico Ticos

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