Tuesday wrapped up Matchday 4 in the CONCACAF Hexagonal qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Mexico continued their strong play while the United States jumped right back into the picture after losing their opening two games. Meanwhile the other four teams were either slipping or treading water. Only six more games left and everyone is still well alive in the race for a Russia berth.
1. Mexico - 10 points
----unlike last cycle, everything is going swimmingly for El Tri. Three wins and a draw so far and looking quite comfortable to take a place at the next World Cup. A busy summer looms with Gold Cup, Confederations Cup and June home qualifiers with Honduras and the USA. Take care of the home matches and El Tri could have their place in Russia clinched in June.
2. Costa Rica - 7 points
----a loss in Mexico and a solid draw in Honduras this round. Costa Rica is still comfortably on target to grab a spot in Russia. Two June home qualifiers will go a long way towards how CR finishes. They'll be clear favorites when they welcome Panama and Trinidad. Grab six points and they will almost be ready to book a ticket at that point.
3. Panama - 5 points
----a promising start fizzles. not a good round for Panama as they lost at last placed Trinidad and then managed a point at home against the US. They'll need at least three points in June to stay on track as they visit Costa Rica and host Honduras.
4. United States - 4 points
----Bruce Arena has the Americans back in the race after a wonderful 6-0 win over Honduras and a decent draw in Panama. June brings an absolute must win home game with Trinidad and then a pray to get something game in Mexico. Three points would keep the Americans on track for one of the top three places in the Hex.
5. Honduras - 4 points
----not a good round for Honduras as they got blasted in the US and then slipped to a draw at home to Costa Rica. the goal differential is a total disaster as well and with June road games at Mexico and Panama this team is in real danger of falling way off the pace.
6. Trinidad - 3 points
----T&T is in big trouble. last place with two losses on home soil already. June is even worse with trips to the US and Costa Rica awaiting. Lose both and T&T is looking squarely at a last placed finish.
To me it looks like Mexico is a lock and Costa Rica is in really good shape. The real race is for the 3rd and final berth in Russia. Honduras and Trinidad look like long shots with their poor goal differential and schedule ahead. That leaves the US and Panama to fight it out. Advantage to the US as they got a draw in Panama and still have them on home soil later. Panama also has a more difficult final six games with trips to Mexico, US and Costa Rica. They currently lead the US by a point, but I jsut don't think it holds up.