World Cup qualifying odds: Honduras at United States
The United States can all but lock in their qualifying spot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil if they can beat Honduras in Utah on Tuesday night — Honduras handed the Americans’ their only loss in qualifying so far, however. The USA opened as a big -240 favorite this time on WagerWeb, with Honduras opening at +625 and a draw at +290. Check our current lines.
The U.S. (3-1-1) leads the qualifying group with 10 points, the lone defeat coming 2-1 at Honduras in February. Honduras (2-2-1) won’t have several key players from that win due to suspensions, injuries and team turmoil. For example, forward Jerry Bengtson has left the national team in a spat over being benched for Los Catrachos’ last game against Jamaica. Bengtson’s complaints and attitude reportedly irked his teammates as well as manager Luis Fernando Suarez, who opted to start Roger Rojas in his place. Rojas wound up scoring the second goal in the 2-0 victory that put Honduras into fourth place in the CONCACAF hexgaonal.
While Honduras traveled to San Jose, Calif., to train ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Americans at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, Utah, Bengtson reportedly flew back to the Boston area to link back up with his MLS club, the New England Revolution.
Bengtson, whose seven goals lead Honduras in World Cup qualifying, is just the latest key player to not be available for Suarez. His two top-choice center backs, Victor Bernardez (suspension) and Maynor Figueroa (injury), are set to miss out, while midfielder Luis Garrido is also suspended and winger Oscar Boniek Garcia is reportedly a doubt with an injury of his own. All five players started in Honduras’ 2-1 win over the USA in San Pedro Sula to open the hexgonal, with Garcia feeding Bengtson for the game-winning goal on Feb. 6.
American striker Jozy Altidore has become a model of consistency this month: After going scoreless in 17 of 18 U.S. appearances, he has recorded goals in three consecutive matches, beginning against Germany in a June 2 friendly at RFK Stadium. Each of his goals during this stretch has come in the first half and provided the lead en route to victories. Midfielder Jermaine Jones has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion in the 2-1 triumph at Jamaica. Nine U.S. players are carrying a yellow card, and with another Tuesday they would miss the Sept. 6 match at Costa Rica.
Rio Tinto Stadium is hosting a World Cup qualifier for the second time. In 2009, the United States defeated El Salvador, 2-1, on goals by Clint Dempsey and Altidore. The United States is 22-0-2 in its past 24 home qualifiers, the last loss coming to Honduras in 2001 in Washington.
World Cup qualifying odds: Panama at United States
The United States can take a gigantic step toward qualifying for the World Cup next year in Brazil with a victory over Panama in Seattle on Tuesday night, and the Americans are sizable favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Americans beat Jamaica 2-1 on Friday, the first ever World Cup qualifying win for the Americans in that country. The Americans gave up an equalizer in the 89th minute before defender Brad Evans scored his first National Team goal with a slick finish in extra time for a 2-1 win against the Reggae Boyz. U.S. forward Jozy Altidore tallied the first goal in the 30th minute, powering home a header off a Graham Zusi cross from the right wing. The first half strike seemed like it would be enough for the victory until Jermaine Beckford darted free behind the USA’s restraining line to head home an 89 th-minute free kick from six yards out.
Team USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started the same 11 players he sent out against Germany in a 4-3 victory on June 2, and the critical three points earned on the road put the USA into second place in the Hexagonal with two home World Cup Qualifying matches. The Americans also face Honduras next week in Utah.
Two key players will sit Tuesday’s match out. Panama’s top scoring threat, Blas Pérez, didn’t make the trip due to gastroenteritis. Pérez has been in good form for Panama and FC Dallas, and his likely replacement, Rolando Blackburn, is something of a downgrade.
But the U.S. is missing its own regular starters. Right midfielder Graham Zusi, who has been so effective crossing balls to Jozy Altidore for goals of late, is out on a yellow-card suspension. Meanwhile, central midfielder Jermaine Jones tweeted late Sunday that he will miss Tuesday’s game after suffering a concussion in the win against Jamaica on Friday.
Seven players are now carrying yellow cards into this qualifier: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Evans and Fabian Johnson. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
Panama has a real chance of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in its history, especially with the possibility of four CONCACAF teams making it to Brazil.
“I think they match us physically, which is tough for us,” said U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. “We’ll try and figure that out. We handled it the last time we played them down in Houston [a 1-0 semifinal win in the '11 Gold Cup].”
The United States has a five-game winning streak in Seattle, and is unbeaten when playing in the home of the Sounders. The U.S. enters the match sporting a 23-match unbeaten run in qualifying at home, the 21-0-2 record dating back to 2001.
The United States holds an 8-1-2 lifetime record against Panama, including a 7-1-1 record on U.S. soil. A total of 10 of the 11 meetings between the two teams have come in either the CONCACAF Gold Cup or FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The teams last met in a friendly for the first time, a 1-0 win on Jan. 25, 2012, in Panama City. Zusi scored his first international goal while Jermaine Jones captained the young team.
World Cup qualifying odds: USA at Mexico
Off a crucial win in a blizzard over Costa Rica, the United States could take a big step toward qualifying for next year’s World Cup by winning where they almost never do: at Mexico, which opened as a -180 favorite on WagerWeb.com for Tuesday’s match. Check our current lines.
Mexico drew their first two matches, at home to Jamaica then away to Honduras, while the Americans lost their opening match in Honduras before battling to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Denver. Clint Dempsey’s first-half goal was his 12th in World Cup qualifying, tying him with career scoring leader Landon Donovan atop the U.S. charts. Meanwhile, Mexico labored to a scoreless draw against Jamaica but then looked back to their best on Friday, at least for 70 minutes. Striker Javier Hernandez scored two superb goals before Honduras replied with two of their own in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw.
The Americans have the added weight of history against them, having never won a World Cup qualifier at the intimidating Azteca Stadium. But In the most recent meeting, the U.S. earned its first victory on Mexican soil, a 1-0 international friendly win on Aug. 15, 2012. Michael Orozco Fiscal scored his first international goal in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Tim Howard made three saves – including two late stops – en route to the historic victory. Howard remains out for now, however, due to injury.
“It won’t be like the friendly we had in August, when it was a half-full stadium,” said veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who plays his club soccer for Liga MX side Puebla. “This game will be 110,000, for sure. It’s our biggest rival; it’s a qualifying match; and they have to get a win. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
In addition, U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones has been ruled out. He sprained his ankle against Costa Rica. Jones did not travel with the team to Mexico. Jones received the injury in the first half, which required two stitches during the interval. He continued play until being subbed out in the 83rd minute.
In the 100-year history of the American program, El Tri has been the Yanks’ most frequent foe, holding a 32-16-12 record all time versus the Americans. The sides have become increasingly competitive over the past dozen years. Since 2000, the Yanks lead the series 11-5-3, and they also eliminated El Tri from the 2002 World Cup. But the pendulum has swung back recently — the U.S. has only one win in the adversaries’ past five meetings.
In a way, the Yanks will be playing with house money in this one. With that 0-12 all-time record in qualifying matches south of the border, it’s no secret that the U.S. is expected to lose. And after Mexico squandered a two-goal lead and had to settle for the tie in Honduras on Friday, suddenly all the stress is on the still-winless hosts.
Friday World Cup qualifying odds: United States vs. Costa Rica
It’s nothing short of a must-win game Friday for the United States in World Cup qualifying when it hosts Costa Rica in Denver, with the Americans as -180 opening favorites on WagerWeb.com. Check our current lines.
The USA was upset by Honduras in the opening game of the 10-match CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Hexagonal. Failing to secure a win Friday would be the U.S. in a precarious situation early on in the final qualifying round, and Klinsmann knows that taking care of business at home on Friday, and throughout the Hexagonal, is imperative to the team securing a coveted berth at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Plus the team has to visit Mexico next week, where it has never won a World Cup qualifier.
“Every home game in a Hexagonal is a must-win situation,” Klinsmann said. “You want to get all the points possible in your home games. It’s a must-win on Friday night here against Costa Rica, which we approach that way.”
Home results have played a key role for qualification in recent years. The USA men have all-time record of 41-6-12 in World Cup qualifiers played at home and went a perfect 3-0-0 in home qualifiers during the semifinal round of this cycle. Since 1985, the U.S. has lost only one World Cup qualifier at home: to Honduras in 2001. The U.S. has qualified for all six World Cups since 1990. The top four teams in the Americans’ CONCACAF region lost only two of 36 home games in 2010. Honduras lost to the U.S., and Costa Rica lost to Mexico.
The Americans are not at full strength. In addition to Landon Donovan’s hiatus from playing, captain Carlos Bocanegra was left off the roster with him not playing in more than six weeks for his club team, Racing Santander. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, right backs Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler and Jonathan Spector, left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo and midfielders Danny Williams and Jose Torres are all out injured, leaving a makeshift roster light on World Cup qualifying experience to take on the challenge of earning crucial points.
The biggest loss is Howard. The 34-year-old Everton regular has played in every major U.S. game the past four years and is in his 11th year in England’s Premiership. He’s out four to six weeks after breaking two bones in his back in an FA Cup match against Oldham on Feb. 26. In his place comes Brad Guzan, 28, another Premiership star with Aston Villa who has played 20 games for the U.S., including five World Cup qualifiers in which he’s 3-1-1. Brad Guzan has three shutouts in five matches played in qualifying in his career, posting a 3-1-1 record. Guzan started in the 2-0 win against Guatemala on Nov. 19, 2008 in Denver.
Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto said that forward and team captain Alvaro Saborio is “doubtful to start against the USA on Friday” after taking a hit to his left knee. Saborio, who plays for Real Salt Lake, has performed well in four previous games against the United States — Costa Rica is 3-0-1 — scoring one goal and handing out in an assist. In three games this season for Real Salt Lake (1-1-1), Saborio has three goals. Since joining the team in 2010, he has recorded 43 goals and nine assists in 84 games. While Pinto has a number of other options for goals — Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Christian Bolaños, and Jairo Arrieta — there isn’t a good like-for-like replacement for Saborío. If he’s out, Costa Rica may have to change their approach.
Costa Rica beat the USA 1-0 in September 2011 in Carson, Calif., in an exhibition the last time the teams played. It was a night that saw the Americans dominate possession while the Central Americans capitalized on their one legitimate scoring chance to hand U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsman his first loss at the helm of the U.S. team. Costa Rica tied Panama 2-2 on the road in February WC qualifying. It hasn’t lost its past three matches.
The Ticos were 1-0-1 vs. the USA in 2009 qualifying, winning 3-1 at home and blowing a 2-0 lead in the game in the United States (Washington D.C.) in a 2-2 draw. A loss here would send an 0-2 U.S. team to Mexico City on Tuesday, where it has won only once in history, and then June 7 to Jamaica, which tied Mexico in its first game.
Friday World Cup soccer odds: USA at Jamaica
The World Cup’s group stage qualifying round begins again Friday for the United States men’s team as it visits Jamaica in the first of a home-and-home matchup. The Americans are -105 favorites, with Jamaica at +240 and a draw at +225 on WagerWeb.com.
The USA would certainly be well-served to bag at least a win and a tie in home-and-home qualifiers against Jamaica on Friday and in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday. In a group from which the top two finishers will advance to next year’s final-round Hexagonal, the U.S. is tied with Jamaica on four points, ahead of Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda (one point each).
Should the USA lose one of these matches it could ramp up the pressure. For example, if Guatemala sweeps Antigua this week, the U.S. would obviously prefer to avoid going into next month’s final two group games either level with or behind both the Jamaicans and Guatemalans. Getting at least four points from these two games would guarantee that the U.S. heads into next month alone in first place.
The U.S. leads Group A in the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with four points after two matches, holding the lead on Jamaica based on a superior goal differential. The U.S. is seeking to win a World Cup Qualifier in Jamaica for the first time, having collected draws in their previous four attempts.
The Americans won’t be at full strength. Cornerstones Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan are both out injured — this will be the first time neither player has started a competitive (non-friendly) U.S. game since the 2009 Gold Cup — and U.S. star Clint Dempsey hasn’t played in a professional game anywhere in almost three months.
Eighteen players on the USA roster were part of the group that earned four points from the first two World Cup Qualifiers this past June, including all three goalscorers: Carlos Bocanegra, Dempsey (2) and Herculez Gomez. Bocanegra, the USA captain, is the only member of the squad who played in the USA’s last visit to Kingston, a 1-1 draw in qualifying on Aug. 18, 2004. The teams last met in the quarterfinal of the 2011 Gold Cup, a 2-0 win for the United States. Jermaine Jones scored the game-winner, his first goal for the United States.
The current Jamaican roster features nine players from MLS, the American squad only five.
Here is Team USA’s roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP (4-2-3-1): Howard; Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Cameron, Johnson; Beckerman, Jones; Williams, Torres, Gomez; Altidore.
USA at Guatemala in World Cup qualifying Tuesday night
After a less than impressive 3-1 victory to open 2014 World Cup qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda on Friday, the Americans figure to get a much bigger test on Tuesday night at Guatemala. The USA is a -175 favorite on WagerWeb.com.
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra tied the all-time scoring mark for U.S. defenders with his 13th career goal on Friday, matching the mark set by National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Marcelo Balboa. Clint Dempsey’s penalty kick conversion in the 44th minute proved to be the game-winner, with Herculez Gomez added his fourth career goal in the second half. Dempsey is the first USA player to score in multiple games this year, following up his game-winning goal against Italy on Feb. 29, and now has scored more than one goal for the MNT in every year since 2005.
Friday’s victory won’t give the US team much momentum heading into Guatemala. A team with as many veterans as the United States shouldn’t need momentum. The Americans could wind up fielding as many as seven starters on Tuesday who started against Guatemala when these teams met in World Cup qualifying four years ago. The USA won that game 1-0, their first victory in Guatemala in 20 years.
“We still have to move the ball quickly and we still have to take our chances when they come,” said Dempsey. “We’re still a work in progress. We’re still trying to figure out what our best formation is. What our best 11 is. We’ve got the games coming up to prove it.
“We’ve got to win away from home if we’re going to qualify for the World Cup and that starts with the next game.”
Guatemala won Group E in the Second Round with a perfect 6-0-0 record and 18 points. The 12-point advantage over Group E’s second-place Belize was the greatest margin of victory among all of the CONCACAF second-round groups. Guatemala outscored its opposition by an impressive 19-3 margin, including two shutouts against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Guatemala’s all-time leading scorer with 49 career goals, Carlos Ruiz scored 24 goals for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy in 2002, leading the team to the MLS Cup and garnering MLS MVP honors that year. Ruiz also played for Toronto FC in 2008 and the Philadelphia Union in 2011 before making the move to Veracruz.
Guatemala progressed to the CONCACAF Final Round during qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but Guatemala could not advance further. The team is still in search of its first FIFA World Cup appearance.
U.S. soccer team looks to bounce back at Canada on Sunday
The United States men’s national soccer team looked like it had turned a corner under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, having won five matches in a row heading into Wednesday’s friendly with superpower Brazil. But the Americans got a rude wake-up call as they were smashed 4-1 by the Brazilians. Now the USA travels to Canada on Sunday night and is a big favorite on WagerWeb.com.
Neymar led the way for Brazil with a goal and two assists, opening the scoring with a penalty kick in the 12th minute. A goal by Thiago Silva later in the first half looked to put Brazil in a commanding lead, but U.S. forward Herculez Gomez provided the team’s lone goal in the 45th minute to cut Brazil’s lead to 2-1.
The U.S. had its chances in the second half, including a strike that struck the crossbar, but Brazil was able to improve their record to 16-1-0 against the U.S. all-time with two goals in the second half by Marcelo and Alexandre Pato. The U.S. is now 15-33-7 against top-10 FIFA-ranked teams since the rankings began in August of 1993.
The U.S. lost for the first time since a 1-0 defeat to France on Nov. 11, 2011, at Stade De France in Paris. Klinsmann made two starting lineup changes from the May 26 win against Scotland. Oguchi Onyewu replaced Geoff Cameron at center back alongside Carlos Bocanegra, and Herculez Gomez started up top in place of Terrence Boyd.
The exhibition match was the second in a five-game “tournament,” as Klinsmann, labeled it. The stretch lasts 18 days and includes three friendlies followed by two qualifiers: against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 and at Guatemala on June 12.
When the USA takes on Canada on Sunday night in Toronto, it will be the first time the Yanks play their neighbors to the north away from home soil in nearly 15 years. Since their first meeting back on June 27, 1925 – in which host Canada won 1-0 at Alexandra Park in Montreal – the United States is 12-8-9 all-time against the Canadians.
The USA is currently riding a 14-match unbeaten streak against the Canadians that spans more than 25 years – Canada’s last win over the United States came on April 2, 1985 in a 2-0 triumph in Vancouver. The U.S. has a 3-6-1 all-time record in matches in Canada in the series. The most recent visit came in the final round of qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 9, 1997, when an early goal by Claudio Reyna and two from Roy Wegerle delivered the U.S. a 3-0 victory that clinched the USA’s ticket to France.
The match will be the final tune-up for both teams before the start of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The U.S. opens play June 8 at home against Antigua and Barbuda in Group A, while Canada travels to face Cuba in Group C.
Team USA faces Scotland in warm-up for World Cup qualifying
The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team is preparing for its busiest stretch of the year, extending from the middle of May to early June and encompassing a 30-day schedule with five games during an 18-day period. The first is Saturday against Scotland at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., and will be capped off with a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on June 12 at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City. The Americans are big favorites vs. Scotland on WagerWeb.com.
Team USA’s game in Jacksonville will be its first in the city in more than a decade, with the last match representing one of the biggest upsets in U.S. history. On Feb. 6, 1999, the men’s national team defeated defending European Champion Germany 3-0 in front of 17,259 fans, the previous attendance record for a U.S. match in Jacksonville.
The U.S. holds an all-time 1-3-2 record against Scotland and last played the team to a 1-1 tie in Glasgow on Nov. 12, 2005. The Jacksonville game will be the first meeting on American soil between the sides since May 30, 1998, when the teams tied 0-0 in Washington, D.C.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann added 11 names to his initial list of call-ups in advance of the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers next month and Landon Donovan is on it.
Other high-profile players joining Donovan in the side are Jozy Altidore, who plays for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and Oguchi Onyewu. Houston Dynamo’s Geoff Cameron, Brondby’s Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst are the other defenders among the added 11. They are accompanied by Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and strikers Terrence Boyd of Borussia Dortmund, Santos’ Herculez Gomez, Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes and Juan Agudelo of Chivas USA.
They’re part of a 27-man group that will train through Friday in Orlando then be trimmed to 23 before Saturday’s friendly against Scotland. Those 23 will then represent the U.S. in friendlies against Brazil and Canada and in the first two qualifying games, June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa, Fla., and June 12 at Guatemala.
The US team has won four straight games. A record crowd is expected at Everbank Field with 32,000 tickets already sold.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland).
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City).
FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).