Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Concacaf Hex

If you're like me, you probably started blocking this from your mind sometime back in early October, but that hasn't stopped the wheels of time inexorably turning 'round.

The wheels of time.

What am I talking about? A natural question. I'm talking of course, of the fourth round of qualifying for the World Cup in CONCACAF. A round more colloquially referred to as the Hex.

The wikipedia site has a handy little table of who plays who (or is it whom?), and when.

Flag of Costa Rica Flag of El Salvador Flag of Honduras Flag of Mexico Flag of Trinidad and Tobago Flag of the United States
Costa Rica Apr 01 Feb 11 Sep 05 Oct 10 Jun 03
El Salvador Sep 09 Oct 14 Jun 06 Feb 11 Mar 28
Honduras Aug 12 Jun 10 Apr 01 Sep 05 Oct 10
Mexico Mar 28 Oct 10 Sep 09 Jun 10 Aug 12
Trinidad and Tobago Jun 06 Aug 12 Mar 28 Oct 14 Sep 09
United States Oct 14 Sep 05 Jun 06 Feb 11 Apr 01

If the cut-and-paste worked as it should, you should be able to read it above.

Even though Canada performed well-below any and all expectations in the semi-final round, it still gets my goat a little that a team like El Salvador qualified for this round by finishing of Haiti and Suriname.

Haiti. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Suriname. A country that isn't even in North or Central America, and one that also sucks at soccer.

Justice will be served, though, and El Salvador will show that they have no business playing in this final round.

I don't have the time nor any interest in predicting match by match. But I can tell you how I think the final standings will look:

Place Team
1 Mexico
3 Honduras
4 Trinidad and Tobago
5 Costa Rica
6 El Salvador

Trinidad will squeak into 4th, no doubt with some fishy stuff going on in the late rounds and Jack Warner pulling some strings. There is no other reason to rank them ahead of Costa Rica.

Do I care how things shake out in the end? Not really. I suppose it would die a little inside if a crap team like T&T made the World Cup again, but there's nothing to do about it. And I'd like Mexico to sweat a little bit, but ultimately, it is good for CONCACAF and, by extension, Canada, for the best teams in the region to make the finals.

(Over at the 24th minute, they have a more succinct preview).

Meanwhile, the U17s play an exhibition game tomorrow against the USA, which is really all Canadian soccer fans have to be excited about, unless they also happen to be fans of TFC. Those fans are undoubtedly popping boners at the news that journeyman pylon Tyrone Marshall is headed to the Emerald City.

I don't often talk about my non-soccer interests on this blog, but I highly recommend to one and all the New York Times profile of Canadian cyclist Svein Tuft. Road cyclists get a bad rap because they ride around on hyperexpensive bikes in the tightest of spandex, but this guy is a real man's man. And I don't mean that in the Brokeback Mountain sense. Read the article!

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