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Team USA Are In Dire Shape - But It's Worth Looking At Their Generous Qualification Criteria

Team USA Are In Dire Shape - But It's Worth Looking At Their Generous Qualification Criteria
By Conor Neville

The USA have qualified for every World Cup ever since 1990, when FIFA made it difficult for them not to qualify.

They beat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 thanks to Paul Caligiuri's 'Shot Heard Around The World'. Manager Bob Gansler brought a team of college footballers and Joe Lapira types to Italy where they were badly found out. The were spanked 5-1 by Czechoslovakia in the opener.

Since then, they have qualified for every World Cup, peaking in the year of the underdog in 2002 when they reached the quarter-final.

The generous qualification criteria in the CONCACAF zone is a persistent bugbear for those countries scrapping for points in the uber-competitive UEFA zone.

The final stage of qualifying is the Hexagonal or the 'Hex' as it is known colloquially. The mathematically astute among you will have guessed that this consists of six teams.

The three top teams in this group of six progress automatically to the World Cup. It's generous already. Not only that but even the fourth (or third bottom) team isn't out of the running. Far from it. They will instead have the second chance of a playoff against the 5th place team in the AFC, aka, the Asian federation.

This will guarantee them a tie against the likes of Iran. The task Ireland were faced with after dumping Holland out of the 2002 World Cup will be the one the USA face is they scrape into fourth place in a group of six in the CONCACAF region.


Failing to reach the World Cup may be a tall order but the US are giving it a good go this year.

Liberal civilisation rejoiced as they lost 2-1 to Mexico mere days after Donald Trump's election. Regrettably, the winning goal did not come via free kick, meaning that tabloid sub-editors had to put away those dodgy wall metaphors.

Yesterday, the Americans were slaughtered 4-0 in Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans were a revelation in Brazil but 4-0 is a wince-making scoreline.


The US soccer press is apoplectic at the start with a host of publications demanding they fire Jurgen Klinsmann immediately.

Here's the lie of the land.


Even after the dismal start, the USA should still be pitching up in Russia in 2018. They have, after all, got their two toughest matches out of the way.

Bleacher Report's Joe Tansey is worried about their chances.

The USMNT boss must find a way to win all four of the remaining home games in the Hex as well as earn at least four points on the road. That task isn't impossible, but the next two road trips to Panama and Mexico won't be easy. The USMNT's World Cup fate could come down to the games at Honduras on September 5 and Trinidad and Tobago on October 10 next year.

Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia isn't an impossible task despite the poor start, but the process will be more frustrating with Klinsmann still in charge. No matter how easy some may perceive the road to the World Cup to be, it will be a challenging one for the USMNT.

Balls still fancies that they'll pull themselves together enough in order to do a job on Honduras and T & T. Worse case scenario they'll have to play an Arab side in a geopolitical nightmare of a fixture. We predict that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be chuckling away together at a Russia-USA game in Moscow two years from now.

Read more: Comparing Ireland's 2013 Team In Vienna With Radically Changed Side Of Today

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