Brazil 2014 is just two years away, and round 3 of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying phase will soon begin. Round 3 is structured with three groups with four teams each, each playing 6 games total (home-and-away series), having the top two of each group move on to the final qualifying round.
Group A is conformed of USA, Jamaica, Guatemala, and Antigua & Barbuda. The U.S. National Team is a huge favorite to win the group, and I would be shocked if they ended up with less than 14 points. Jamaica and Guatemala will be fighting for the second place spot in Group A, and it will be a tight contest, which I believe will be defined until the very last fixture of the 3rd round. Antigua & Barbuda is along for the ride, and gaining any points at all can be seen as a huge achievement for this tiny island nation.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s team is a clear favorite to end up in the number one slot, and should do so without breaking a sweat (metaphorically speaking of course). The U.S. team has gone to six straight World Cups, and making it lucky seven in a row will be no problem. The U.S. squad simply has too much talent to not make it to the next round; with players in major European leagues, and the top talent from North America’s leagues. I simply don’t see Guatemala or Jamaica surpassing the U.S. soccer team in any form.
The reggae boys are the reigning Caribbean champions, and arrived directly to round 3 without the need to qualify for it (unlike Guatemala and Antigua). Theodore Whitmore has added badly needed discipline to this athletic squad, and should be the determining factor as to whether they make it to the next round. Jamaica needs to take advantage when playing at home, and the first match against Guatemala can very well be deciding game for the second place spot. If Jamaica can beat Guatemala at home and tie them away, they will make it to the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
Guatemala arrived to the third round by winning all of their games in the second round (even if they beat up on CONCACAF minnows). Led by Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz’, the Guatemala team needs his guidance and leadership in order to get that second place spot. Again, the first game against Jamaica will be a deciding factor, whichever team wins that home-and-away series will play in the next round. As of now, I can’t call who will make it to the next round; however, I don’t see either Jamaica or Guatemala with enough talent to make it to the Brazil World Cup.
Antigua & Barbuda
The small island nation of 80,000 people surprised the CONCACAF region just by making it this far. They won Group F of the second qualifying round with 15 points, edging out the group favorite Haitian team. However, this is as far as they will go, and should be happy if they leave the group with any points at all. However, you have to admire their successful run, and congratulate them on a job well done.
To recap, I see the U.S. team winning this group without any difficulties, the second place spot will be disputed between Jamaica and Guatemala, and Antigua should simply enjoy the ride.