Lead change in Hex after game 3
By Aldwyn McGill
Producer- Stars Soccer Review Magazine
Panama has jumped atop the CONCACAF standings after its 2-0 win over Honduras at Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City.
Watching the top two teams in the standings over the last week it is safe to say that the competition is as keen as expected. After three games, only one win (3 points) separates Panama as the group leader from Jamaica at the bottom of the table.
With June set as the halfway point of the CONCACAF Hexagonal schedule, four of the six teams have already drawn games while enjoying home field advantage and only four teams have registered a win.
As mentioned in our SSR Magazine projections, the Hex round would not have been as easy for Mexico as the semi-final round. Mexico team is yet to negotiate a win or a way out of the basement after drawing its first three games while playing two at home at the Azteca Stadium. While no team has lost at home Mexico Coach José Manuel De La Torre and his team has been the biggest surprise to this point as the pre-tournament favorite.
USA and Jamaica were benefactors of two historic scoreless games in Mexico and if the trend continues there is no doubt Coach De La Torre will be fired. The heat is on De La Torre when Mexico hits the road to face Jamaica and Panama in their next games.
On the other end of the spectrum is Panama. Some are using words as shocking and surprising used to describe their rise to the top of the Hexagonal standings. But I am not surprise or shock by Panama’s 2-0 win over Honduras, or its present status.
However, the race is still early but there is no doubt in my mind that Panama is capable of running the table pool to qualify if they can maintain discipline and composure.
As for previously unbeaten Honduras it is hard to concede a goal in the second minute while playing on the road and hope to win. However, Los Catrachos will have to stay focus or become a non-factor in the race for the three automatic spots if they are not ready to play on the road at Costa Rica and Mexico next.
There was a bit of drama in the Hex as USA beat Costa Rica in snowy conditions in Commerce City, Colorado. Much has been said about the playing conditions during the Costa Rica-USA game but from my vantage point if the game is replayed; the outcome may still be the same if not more in favor of USA. Keep in mind that of the six teams in the Hex, USA and Costa Rica are the only teams which have not faltered at home thus far.
It is said that when the going gets tough, the tough usually gets going and after opening the Hex with a loss in Honduras, the Americans beat Costa Rica and neutralized Mexico at the Azteca Stadium to come out with a scoreless draw in only their second qualifying point ever in Mexico.
Costa Rica on the other hand returned home for some much needed warm and support to erase the dreaded memory of their chilling 1-0 loss to USA in snowy Colorado. El Ticos defeated Jamaica 2-0 before a capacity crowd at their National Stadium in San Jose to jump back into the Hex race.
The Reggae Boyz has only themselves to blame for not capitalizing on home field advantage after having Panama on the ropes at the National Stadium in Kingston in the first half of play. Home points are critical and while the Costa Rica loss is a bit disheartening to Jamaica fans, the upcoming games against USA and Mexico at the Office in Kingston is where the Reggae Boyz has another chance to deliver. Stay Tuned!!
CONCACAF fourth round Hexagonal match day three
26 March 2013
Costa Rica 2-0 Jamaica
Panama 2-0 Honduras
Mexico 0-0 USA
4 June 2013
7 June 2013
Read more in the Stars Soccer Review