US Has Little Margin For Home World Cup Qualifying Stumble

Jan 31, 2022, 3:13 PM | Updated: 3:14 pm

Cyle Larin #17 of Canada and Matt Turner #1 of the United States watch the ball go into the back of...

Cyle Larin #17 of Canada and Matt Turner #1 of the United States watch the ball go into the back of the net during a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match at Tim Hortons Field on January 30, 2022 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The U.S. has little margin for a stumble at home in World Cup qualifying.

With a victory over Honduras on Wednesday night in brutal cold at St. Paul, Minnesota, the Americans could be in position to clinch a return to soccer’s showcase if they beat Panama on March 27 at Orlando, Florida.

A defeat or draw in either home game would put the U.S. in danger of missing its second straight World Cup.

“Our focus right now is finishing off the window with a win,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said after Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Canada. “If we can do that, we’ll be in good position, and then it’s about going to the last window and getting results, and we’re confident we have a team that can do that.”

Canada leads North and Central America and the Caribbean with 22 points and the U.S is second with 18, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. Panama is fourth with 17, followed by Costa Rica (13), El Salvador (nine), Jamaica (seven) and Honduras (three).

The top three nations qualify for this year’s tournament in Qatar, and fourth place advances to a playoff against the Oceania champion, likely New Zealand.

Winning road games in the region has been a difficult task for the Americans, who have lost at Panama and Canada, tied at El Salvador and Jamaica, and won at last-place Honduras. They’ve been blanked three times and scored five goals in five road games, four of the goals at Honduras.

At home, the U.S. opened with a draw against Canada and followed with victories over JamaicaCosta RicaMexico and El Salvador. The match against Honduras could be complicated by weather: Accuweather forecast a kickoff temperature of 4 degrees (minus-16 Celsius), with a drop of 1-to-2 degrees during the match, conditions the U.S. Soccer Federation’s cold-weather guidelines label “extreme” and suggest merit a cancellation or move indoors due to potential frostbite.

If the Americans sweep their final two home games, they would clinch no worse than third if Mexico defeats Panama on Wednesday night and Costa Rica doesn’t beat Jamaica on Wednesday and then Canada and El Salvador in its first two March games.

But failing to get six points from those home games would create immense pressure when they play March 24 at Mexico and six days later at Costa Rica. The U.S has 12 losses and four draws in qualifiers at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, the likely site of the match, and has lost its last nine qualifiers at Costa Rica, including a 4-0 wipeout in 2016 that led to the U.S. Soccer Federation firing coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

In the 2018 cycle, the U.S. was done in by an opening loss to at home against Mexico and a defeat to Costa Rica in the Americans’ next-to-last home game. They gained three points on the road, with draws at PanamaMexico and Honduras, before losing infamously Trinidad and Tobago on the final night.

This cycle has been marginally better, but every match has been tense until late: The Americans have been tied at halftime eight times and trailed twice, taking a first-half lead only once.

They been outscored 4-2 in the first half, going scoreless eight times, before an 11-3 advantage in the second.

“We’ve created enough in the first half to score more goals,” Berhalter said. “I think we’ve done a good job of wearing teams down in the first half with both possession and transition. So we’re doing a decent job. I think the last thing is just finishing those attacks. … I’m happy that the team shows enough poise and composure to come out in the second half and still play strong.”



Michelle Bodkin

Cam Rising, Brant Kuithe Waiting On Approval To Play From Same Doctor

Utah football has been waiting for approval from the same doctor for Cam Rising and Brant Kuithe to return to play.

8 hours ago

Lauri Markkanen Utah Jazz Media Day...

Chandler Holt

Jazz Notes: Lauri Markkanen Is Ready To Be A Leader This Season For Utah

After completing his military service requirement and competing in FIBA, Lauri Markkanen is ready to be a leader for the Utah Jazz.

10 hours ago


Michelle Bodkin

Pac-12 Power Rankings: UW, Oregon Continue To Lead Conference Charge

The Pac-12 hierarchy continued to sort itself out in week five with Washington and Oregon separating themselves from the rest.

12 hours ago

BYU/Cincinnati, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Updates...

Chandler Holt

BYU Athletics Plans To Reseat LaVell Edwards Stadium Following 2023 Season

With demand for Cougars tickets growing, BYU Athletics announced a plan to reseat LaVell Edwards Stadium after the 2023 season.

13 hours ago

Utah State Aggies - Dee Glen Smith Spectrum...

Brian Preece

Mountain West Releases USU Men’s Basketball National TV Slate

The Utah State Aggies men's basketball program will play ten nationally televised games during the 2023-24 Mountain West season.

13 hours ago

Bryson Barnes Utah Utes Florida Gators...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Football Top Three Plays From September

The month of September is in the books for Utah football and there were some memorable plays that got the Utes to 4-1 on the season.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

US Has Little Margin For Home World Cup Qualifying Stumble