On Tuesday night while I was teaching my third lab of the week and inhaling more ammonia fumes than probably healthy, the US men’s national team (MNT) squared off against Panama in Panama City, Panama. Panama went up early, and quite frankly I wasn’t surprised. A win by Panama and loss by Mexico to second place Costa Rica would send Panama to the fourth place spot and a playoff against New Zealand and send Mexico home. A win by Mexico and all of that is a moot point. I figured the US would play but not play to win. Well, I was wrong, very wrong. Michael Orozco tied it up in the 64th minute and at that point I thought we’d settle for the tie. Wrong again. Panama came back and took the lead in the 83rd minute and then it was announced that Costa Rica was leading 2-1. OK, “go Costa Rica and a loss wouldn’t be so bad,” at least that’s what went through my head. However, that’s not what Klinsmann was thinking. UUUGGGHHHH…DU just coughed up the game winner with 25.2 seconds left in overtime #halftheteamisfreshmen…uuuggghhh! Where was I…Klinsmann…German…doesn’t like losing…stoppage time goals. Oh right, Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson (the Iceman) both buried stoppage time goals to rip the hearts out of the Panamanians like the priest from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom…Kali Ma, Kali Ma! Erm, cough I digress…again. That’s right the US stunned and silenced the raucous crowd and eliminated Panama from World Cup contention. By beating Panama, Mexico sealed the 4th place spot despite the loss to Costa Rica and will face New Zealand in a playoff for the World Cup. You’re welcome Mexico. GO NEW ZEALAND! You can see all of the goals in the video below.
Tuesday was also the final day of qualifying for the majority of the other conferences and the field of 32 for Brazil 2014 is nearing completion. As of now 21 teams have punched their tickets for Brazil. Those teams are: Brazil (auto-bid), Japan, Australia, Iran, South Korea, Netherlands, Italy, Costa Rica, United States, Argentina, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Colombia, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Spain, Chile, Ecuador, and Honduras. 11 spots are left open for the remaining countries.
The World Cup is growing closer and I can’t be more excited. The US looks strong, stronger than I remember and could really make a splash next year. It definitely won’t be an easy road as all 32 teams will be strong opponents and the US is not a part of the elite Pot 1. The teams seeded into Pot 1 are Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, and Switzerland. One slot in the top pot is vacant depending on the result of the Uruguay-Jordan playoff. If Uruguay wins, they’re in. If Jordan wins the Netherlands get the spot. The US will face one of these teams in group play, so time to start hoping those little ping pong balls bounce our way on December 6th win they draw for the groups. However, like I said earlier, we look stronger than I can remember and Klinsmann knows how to win so I think we’ll be up to challenge come next year. Go, go USA!
Alright, that’ll do it for me. Have a great weekend everyone!