The US men’s soccer team is back in action next week when they face El Salvador in the first of a trilogy of world cup qualifiers.
After Thursday’s home match with El Salvador, they have a huge crunch match away to Canada on Sunday. Followed by a home fixture with Honduras on Wednesday, February 2nd.
At the moment it’s fair to say that while qualification for Qatar 2022 isn’t assured, it is still highly likely to happen.
USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter would have envisioned a less stressful qualifying campaign. But qualification is still in their own hands, and if all goes well over the next two weeks – will be virtually assured.
As things stand, the USMNT sits in second place in the table. They have 15 points from 8 matches.
The top three qualify automatically for Qatar 2022. With 4th place going into a playoff with three other nations in an inter-confederation playoff.
All 8 teams in USA’s CONCACAF group have played 8 matches, and all have 6 remaining.
Canada sits top on 16 points, 1 ahead of USA in second. In third place is Mexico on 14 points, with Panama 4th, also on 14 points.
Outside of the qualification and playoff zone is Costa Rica in 5th place with just 9 points. It’s hard to imagine anybody from outside of the top 4 sides qualifying from the CONCACAF group now.
But things are still far from comfortable for Berhalter and his team.
His USA team sits just 1 point clear of the playoff spot, and there is no way he will want to go through the trauma of a one-off playoff match in Qatar this coming June. They will want to get the job done before that, and these three matches could all but see that happen.
The latest soccer betting shows the USA are heavy favorites to win this one. But as we know, soccer doesn’t work like that. There are always obstacles!
Starting with the weather, North America can be very cold at this time of the year.
There have already been reports suggesting the temperatures will be around 25F with a wind chill thrown into the mix making it feel even colder.
And this looks set to be the case for all three of the USMNT’s matches.
As for recent form, the USA won one and drew one in their October doubleheader.
The win was a 2-0 home victory over Mexico. They then followed that up with a disappointing 1-1 away draw to Jamaica.
Prior to the win over Mexico, the USA beat Costa Rica. And it was these back-to-back victories that have given them their 6 point lead over 5th placed Costa Rica.
In the USA’s most recent outing, they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 last December, in a friendly.
As for their opponents, El Salvador, they sit 7th in the table with just 6 points. So far in this qualifying group, they have won just once, drawn three times, and lost four.
In their last four qualifiers, the El Salvadorans have lost three and drawn one.
Since their last qualifier (a 2-1 defeat away to Panama), they’ve played two friendly matches. First, they were held 1-1 at home by Ecuador in early December. They followed that up with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica.
It’s difficult to see a country that is used to playing in tropical conditions, coping with the below-freezing conditions expected in Ohio next Thursday.
Add to that, El Salvador’s recent form, and I have to go for a win for the USA in this match.
The odds on a USA win are a little short at -410 on the Moneyline with BetUS.
On the handicap line, the USA is -120 with a -1.5 start. I’m tempted to go with that, as I can see the USA winning 2-0.
My only slight reservation is a goal for El Salvador, and the USA holding out for a 2-1. I think it’s worth the risk though for the better odds.
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This is the big match of the group, and it’s one I think the USA will happily take a point from. Assuming that is, they beat El Salvador first.
It’s difficult to predict how the USA will line-up, as we don’t know what condition they will come out of the El Salvador match in.
But I feel both sides will take a draw in this fixture.
Similar to the Canada match, we don’t know what US team may turn up for this match.
Looking at Honduras’ position though, it’s hard to see anything other than a home win.
Honduras currently sits bottom of the group with 3 points from eight matches played.
Their record is three draws, and five defeats. They’ve lost their last four qualifiers in a row.
It has to be another win for the USA men’s team in this match. Take them on the handicap, as the odds will be way too short on the Moneyline.
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