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CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying ... HEX starts 11/11/16

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Guy, guys, guys ... how have we not started a WB2018 qualifying thread yet?

We're three games into stage 4, which will determine the 6 countries to make the Hex for final selection, and right now the Americans are struggling big time. They dropped a 2-0 result in Guatemala last night and looked like barf in the process. That drops them to third in their group behind Guatemala and Trinidad at 1-1-1 with the lone win a romp over puny St Vincent. True only one game has been played at home, but red flags are flapping loudly, and I cannot stress enough what a disorganized mess they were last night. Next up ... that same Guatemalan side in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday 3/29. And make no mistake, given the quality of Group 3 anything other than first is an embarrassment for the US. Going NHL .500 in this group would be pitiful.

In the other two groups, Mexico has romped to a huge Group 1 lead and Costa Rica is off to a comfortable margin in Group 2.
 
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HNIM

Well-known member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

Just from what I've read, it sounds like Klinsmann has been putting out sides that aren't exactly hungry. It's beginning to feel time for a change.
 

TheCountofMonteCristo

Canadiens & 'News & Views' Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

I was at Canada-Mexico last night. Mexico made Canada look like a houseleague team.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

I was at Canada-Mexico last night. Mexico made Canada look like a houseleague team.
When Mexico is on, they can do that to anyone in the region.

How the US center backs lost track of Ruiz, I'll never know. Fab Johnson is out with an injury, but the time to experiment with the lineup has long passed. Pick a side and stick with it, especially the back 4.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

1. Mexico's senior team is about what we thought they'd be when their kids won the Olympics in London ... world class and bloody dangerous.

2. I've pretty much given up hope that Klinsmann will ever get a handle on the back four. He just doesn't seem to recognize the impact of playing people out of position and doesn't have any kind of feel for his real options in those roles. Even when he's got really good fullbacks, he just pulls them up into the midfield and takes away their edge. I've been a bit of an apologist, but I'm done defending the guy. I think he's lost at sea.
 
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

The knock on him coming in was that he wasn't actually much of a tactician with Jogi Löw really doing that and that his bigger role during his time in charge of Germany was in overhauling the youth setup of the country. I feel like overhauling the youth setup in the US is much more difficult than it was in Germany. My hope is that we see the results of these efforts in 6-10 years or so like the German's obviously did, but I don't feel too confident in that happening.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

1. Mexico's senior team is about what we thought they'd be when their kids won the Olympics in London ... world class and bloody dangerous.

2. I've pretty much given up hope that Klinsmann will ever get a handle on the back four. He just doesn't seem to recognize the impact of playing people out of position and doesn't have any kind of feel for his real options in those roles. Even when he's got really good fullbacks, he just pulls them up into the midfield and takes away their edge. I've been a bit of an apologist, but I'm done defending the guy. I think he's lost at sea.
I can't find the original, but Andrew King, who covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com tweeted a quote from Klinsmann this morning saying "I'm not playing anyone out of position".

Seriously?
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

I can't find the original, but Andrew King, who covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com tweeted a quote from Klinsmann this morning saying "I'm not playing anyone out of position".

Seriously?
Translation error? I think he meant to say "I'm not playing anyone IN their actual position." Because, other than maybe one forward and the keeper at any one time, you COULD make that case.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

The knock on him coming in was that he wasn't actually much of a tactician with Jogi Löw really doing that and that his bigger role during his time in charge of Germany was in overhauling the youth setup of the country. I feel like overhauling the youth setup in the US is much more difficult than it was in Germany. My hope is that we see the results of these efforts in 6-10 years or so like the German's obviously did, but I don't feel too confident in that happening.

I don't think Klinsmann has done jack squat with the development programs other than elevate the level of the coaching staffs at the national level. Big whoop. Anybody could have done that. We're still playing the same disjointed seat of the pants style of soccer at the age group levels as well.

Personally, I think the guy is a snake oil salesman who needs to go peddle his nonsense elsewhere.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

I don't think Klinsmann has done jack squat with the development programs other than elevate the level of the coaching staffs at the national level. Big whoop. Anybody could have done that. We're still playing the same disjointed seat of the pants style of soccer at the age group levels as well.

Personally, I think the guy is a snake oil salesman who needs to go peddle his nonsense elsewhere.
Could not agree more. The youth teams still struggle to qualify for the age group World Cups. While we're fixated on the problems of the senior national team, the U-23s turned a can't lose qualifier into a home and home playoff with Columbia for the last spot in the Olympics. At least they got an away goal last week to enhance their chances. If Gulati wants to keep him as the coach, he has to find a new Technical Director.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

Gulati ... IMO he's spent WAY too much time playing FIFA politics and not nearly enough time minding the store at home. The women are in out and out revolt over their 3rd class treatment and the men's program is in disarray.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

Even though there are 2 match days left in this round, CONCACAF had the drawing for the dreaded Hex.

Current Standings:
Group A:
Mexico - 12 points - already qualified
Honduras - 4 points
Canada - 4 points
El Salvador - 2 points

Group B:
Costa Rica - 10 points
Panama - 7 points
Jamaica - 4 points
Haiti - 1 point

Group C
Trinidad & Tobago - 10 points
US - 7 points
Guatemala - 6 points
St. Vincent and the Grenadines - 0 points

Remaining matches in group C:
St. Vincent v. US - 9/2
T&T v. Guatemala - 9/2

US v. T&T - 9/6
Guatemala v. St. Vincent 9/6

Let's assume the US wins the group and Costa Rica wins their group. The first round of the Hex is in November. Our first game would be at home to Mexico (wanna bet it's in Columbus), the second at Costa Rica. If we finish 2nd in the group, match day 1 will be home for Costa Rica (probably too early for snow in Denver), match day 2 will be at A2, either Honduras or Canada.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

The US wraps up qualifying group play this week with a match at St Vinnie's on Friday and one at home (Jacksonville, Fla) against T&T on Tuesday 9/6. A win over St Vinnie combined with a Guatemala win at home against T&T would be enough to see the US through to the hex regardless of the outcome of that last match.

Klinsmann has named the squad for these two and the most notable change sees both Clint Dempsey (heart problem) and Gyasi Zardes out with injury/illness. Oldsters Wondo, Jermaine Jones and Beckerman are in (Jones coming off of injury) along with veterans like Bradley (sitting on a one game suspension), Bedoya, Brooks, Johnson, Besler, Cameron and Zusi. An on form Jozi Altidore returns from exile, as does young Jordan Morris to join Wondo and Wood up front. The kiddie corps is represented too, as Pulisic, wingers Paul Arriola & Rubio Rubin and holding midfielder Caleb Stanko step into the mix. It's the same three keepers as we saw in the Copa ... probably in the same pecking order as Guzan has looked halfway decent for Boro early on in England.

The first game could be interesting as the midfield will all but certainly be missing both Bradley and Jones. It's St Vincent, so defending is less of a problem than breaking down the defense, but those two combined are a big miss. PLENTY of options in attack though. We'll see.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

One tweak to the roster from yesterday. John Brooks has back issues and was dropped and Sacha Kljestan was added. That's a center back being replaced by a midfielder, so that's a bit of a head scratcher. He could have called Brad Evans (who was horrific in the Cascadia Cup on Sunday). So I guess it's Cameron and Gonzalez starting in the middle, flanked by an out of position Fab Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin. Up front, the big question is whether either Morris or Wood can fill Dempsey's shoes. Dempsey plays best in a withdrawn position and neither Morris or Wood are suited for that. Can they play that position behind Jozy? And can Jozy stay healthy for more than 5 minutes?
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

FWIW, Jozi has been on an unholy tear for Toronto and has been healthy for a fairly long stretch this season ... by his standards. If he doesn't start up top I'd be surprised. And honestly, losing Dempsey simplifies a lot of things up front. You start one target forward and another who can run the channels and you're done. Everybody's roles become MUCH more clear and much less change on the fly than with Clint playing some weird hybrid forward/attacking mid role. Pair up that duo with two guys who can burn it down the flanks and you get four in attack without having to shift formation or sacrifice defensive positioning in the base 4-4-2. I'm guessing that a very much in form Bobby Wood gets the nod next to Jozi up front with Morris providing the legs off the bench if we're behind and Wondo doing Wondo things if we're ahead ... whatever the heck that means this time. Generally just Wondo screwing up in new and inventive ways. If Jurgen wants to go 4-3-3 or more likely 4-2-3-1, then you can play Wood and one of the younger wingers out wide and slide Nagbe into the attacking midfield role. He's frankly better at it right now than Dempsey anyway. But personally I bet we go with a much more stable 4-4-2 and just simplify against St Vinnie. Either way I seriously doubt that Morris goes all the way from left out to starting this quickly.

Given how far Omar has had to come to get back from the wilderness I figure he gets at least one of those two games, but I'd bet Besler goes to the left of Cameron when it matters, because ... Jurgen. And since Johnson is now playing left wing back for Gladbach I think we can quit calling him out of position at LB for the US. I'd still rather see him more forward for country, but not at the expense of the dreck we have at LB in his absence. Besides, with Pulisic, Nagbe, Arriola, Rubin and Zusi all perfectly able to play the wide MF positions I think we've got good options out wide.
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

US 6 St Vinnies 0

Kind of a screwy game. The pitch did indeed suck, with both teams studiously avoiding the middle of the field where the cricket pitching/batting area had been sodded over. The US played a bit softer defensively than normal under Klinsmann, deciding to not press the line high most of the time. Not sure if that was about St Vinnies' speed or the craptastic bounces off the uneven surface ... maybe both. Either way, class will show out eventually and Wood (sweet little finish off of a bobbled possession), Besler (pulled the Suarez fake offside trick in the aftermath of a set piece) and Altidore (PK) put the US up 3-0 at the break. The Americans had a sleepy/sluggish first first 20 of the second half before Pulisic and Klestjan came in and jolted the offense back to life with a series of one/twos. The kid got a brace, Sasha got one on a sweet little driving run and you got the final result.

Jurgen mixed up the lineup a bit. Wood and Altidore did indeed pair up top and looked fairly good together. Fab got moved up to left mid as Acosta gave it another run at left back ... and faired MUCH better than I've seen from him at that position. Besler stepped in for Brooks and did his normal job, while Yedlin frankly looked like garbage on the right. He got forward well enough but that guy's decision making in defense is just awful. Beckerman and Bedoya held down the middle decently although that wasn't the best you'll see from Bedoya. Zusi was his usual, competent self on the right flank. Pulisic and Klestjan as mentioned were terrific ... energetic, creative, and skillful play from both. Morris came on late for Altidore and was fine. Nothing to write home about, but in limited minutes. Guzan went in the pipes and was fine. Clean sheet - little drama. Nagbe and Gonzalez were the notables stuck on the bench.

T&T took care of Guatemala so the game with them in Jacksonville on Tuesday will essentially be to decide who wins the group. Klinsmann has already said that Tim Howard will go in net, which is fine since his form in MLS has been good. Otherwise he's dropped hints that we'll see a younger lineup, which is also fine because the younger Americans up front look much more likely to generate some scoring. A draw helps both, so ... no real reason to go nuts.
 
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HNIM

Well-known member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

I missed the USA 4-0 win over T&T but caught a fair bit of Mexico-Honduras. A typical CONCACAF ball-buster with not a lot of love lost.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

The US handled T&T 4-0 to advance to the Hex in style, winning Group C with a 4-1-1 record good for 13 points. That was the third best point total in round 4, as both Mexico and Costa Rica managed 16 points in winning their groups so consider the US to have finished third heading into the 6-way mess that is the Hex.

Pulisic started, played the full 90 and was a real live wire down the left. Kljestan started and was classy in distribution in addition to finishing a loose ball for the first goal. Bradley played the 6 and frankly looked out of sorts. He sprayed some loose passes and looked indecisive too frequently in his marking. Not his best effort. Atlidore and Wood paired again up top and Jozi notched a brace as they swapped roles with Wood running up top and Jozi holding play up a bit further back. Bedoya was a bit invisible on the right flank, but was playing ahead of a FB who never really ventured forward in Cameron. He deputized at RB while Gonzalez paired up with Birnbaum in central defense ... and looked pretty good, especially in limiting Kenwyn Jones' in the air. And that ain't easy. Howard wasn't tested a ton but made a couple of nice stops with T&T pushing hard after conceding the 3rd. Paul Arriola came on for Bedoya and scored the 4th on a frisky run. Morris came on for Wood and looked typically brash and physical. All in all ... fine. That's a decent side and they handled them fairly easily. Kljestan and Pulisic made loud cases to be included in future plans, while Gonzalex and Birnbaum showed real class in defense. Net positives all around.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

Klinsmann got his wish and won the group. The US opens the Hex against Mexico in El Tri's house of horrors, MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on November 11. They travel to Costa Rica on November 15. Honduras, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago are the other teams. The top 3 advance, the 4th place team has a home and away playoff against a team from Asia. In the last cycle, the playoff was against a team from Oceania, which Mexico won handily. The team from Asia played South America in the playoff.

Here is a link to the schedule.

http://www.concacaf.com/article/match-ups-confirmed-for-final-round-of-concacaf-qualifying-for-fifa-world-cup-russia-2018
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Re: CONCACAF World Cup 2018 Qualifying

So ... The Hex

Here's the six:
Mexico, Costa Rica, USA, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad & Tobago ... in order of FIFA ranking, which means not much.

Mexico is the class of this group by a fairly wide margin right now. Their talent pool is just deeper than that of the Yanks and the Ticos, and they are playing up to it for once. They've been pretty healthy, efficient and fairly settled since the World Cup. Those three have to be the favorites to take the top three spots, which is how many automatic qualifiers this federation gets for WC Russia. CONCACAF also drew against the Asian Federation for the qualification playoffs, and will send the 4th place team into a 2-legged death match with the 5th place Asian team. Yeah, you read that correctly. FIFA man ... they give four automatic slots to Asia and only three to CONCACAF. Makes perfect sense to somebody ... probably somebody with a fat, numbered Swiss bank account in his mistress' name. For clarity, the Asian Federation's top 6 ranked teams are Iran (yes, they are the highest of the group), Japan, So Korea, Uzbekistan, UAE and Qatar. The pool also includes Australia (but not New Zealand), China and Saudi Arabia ... oh, and Palestine (but not Israel). You want a reason to tear down FIFA and start over, even if the corruption is still in place? This group, their rankings and WC qualification slots are it.
 
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