The United States Men’s National Team has a chance to get to the top of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings over the next week.
The U.S. currently sits in second and a point back of group leader Canada through the first eight games of World Cup qualifying. With home games against Honduras and El Salvador sandwiched around a road game at Canada from Thursday through Wednesday, the U.S. can move into first place by matching Canada’s results in those two home games and a win on Jan. 30.
Nine points over those three games may seem a little presumptuous, but it’s not out of the question at all. Honduras and El Salvador are at the bottom of the group, and Canada doesn’t have Alphonso Davies as part of the squad for these three games. Davies is unfortunately dealing with a bout of myocarditis after contracting COVID-19.
Three wins will also put the USMNT in a fantastic position to qualify for the World Cup. The top three teams in the group make the World Cup automatically while the fourth-place team heads to a playoff with the winner of March’s Oceania qualifying tournament.
Here’s how the standings look ahead of CONCACAF Round No. 9 of 14.
Canada, 16 points
United States, 15
Costa Rica, 9
El Salvador, 6
And here are the odds for Thursday’s matchups via BetMGM. Each of the top four teams is playing a team from the bottom four. Things could really separate themselves between the top and bottom of the group. Or it could get really muddled if the teams in the lower half of the group grab points.
United States vs. El Salvador (over/under 2.5 goals)
United States (-400)
El Salvador (+1150)
U.S. Soccer has made interesting choices to host the El Salvador game in Columbus and the Honduras game on Feb. 2 in St. Paul. Does the U.S. really have that much of an advantage in colder weather, especially if it snows? That’s the hope. The high in Columbus on Thursday is set to be 32 with no precipitation. We’re going with three points for the U.S. here. Anything less is a massive disappointment.
Jamaica vs. Mexico (2.5)
Mexico will have a full-strength attacking lineup for these three games with Raul Jimenez, Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona all in the squad. Jamaica has West Ham’s Michail Antonio up front and his wonder goal got the Jamaicans a draw against the United States at home. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a tie here given how pesky Jamaica can be, though the smart money seems to be on a Mexico win.
Honduras vs. Canada (2.5)
This is a much bigger test for Canada than the standings would make you believe. A road qualifier as the first place team is never easy. We’re going with the tie here as Canada could be strategically looking ahead to the home game against the U.S. on Sunday.
Costa Rica vs. Panama (2.5)
Costa Rica (+125)
Costa Rica puts itself in the thick of the race for the top four with a win while Panama can significantly increase its chances for the top four with a win. A tie seems likely here too, and we like the pick given that the odds are nearly 2-1.