Bullet-pointed observations from the mind of Coach Larry on last week’s World Cup qualifiers from around the globe.
CONCACAF aka THE HEX: US def got lucky to escape Azteca with a scoreless draw. The second penalty claim was pretty strong, though it looked like he may have screwed it wide just before the contact from Edu.
Didn’t realize JK had a sponsorship deal with Haggar slacks.
Gonzalez and Besler did very well. Eddie Johnson replacing Altidore also helped. Beasley definitely struggled with the pace of both GdS and the Navala kid in the first half. In general, you could see, with reason, the US was afraid of their speed, but took a while to realize they could keep a high line and then drop off instead of challenging and drawing cards near midfield. Guzan was strong, but not spectacular. Somehow, this Mexican team just can’t convert chances.
So the now the Hex is pretty much all even after three. The teams that have played 2 road matches have made a little advantage for themselves. Right now, Mexico is out of even the playoff place.
CONMEBOL: Argentina drew at Bolivia, but remain up top. Uruguay lost 2-0 at Chile and Paraguay blasted at Ecuador 4-1, after taking the lead. So Uruguay now is 2 points off the playoff spot, and Paraguay are dead last, having surrendered 21 goals in 11 matches.
AFC: Uzbekistan leads South Korea in Group A, but they have a decent lead on Iran, who does have a game in hand on the former. In Group B, Japan leads, but lost at Jordan 2-1. This puts the kingdom ahead of Australia who drew at home versus Oman. Tighter for the Aussies than you would have thought, but they also have a game in hand. The two third place teams will face off to see who plays the 5th place CONMEBOL.
CAF: Too many groups. 10 in fact. The winners of each will draw into a home-and-home versus another. Those winners go through to WC2014. Bob Bradley’s Egypt have a 5 point lead halfway through. South Africa looking up at Ethiopa. Morocco have just 2 points, trailing Cote d’Ivorie by 5 and Tanzania by 4. Congo have a perfect record with 0 goals conceded in a fairly weak group.
Oceania: Waiting for New Zealand, who will play 4th place CONCACAF.
Europe: Oh boy, England are always England aren’t they? I heard them once described thusly, “The play like people drive when the police are following them.” And I can’t argue with that.
Belgium and Croatia might come down to goal difference, so I feel a little bad for Scotland, Wales, and Macedonia. Though it seems a cruel joke already that Serbia could also be in that group.
Denmark look out, and the Czechs have some work ahead of themselves to catch Bulgaria. 2nd place behind Germany is wide open, but somehow Sweden have played 2 fewer games.
Decent draw at Turkey for Hungary as the fight Romania, who at least have at Netherlands out of the way now.
Not sure how Group 5 came to be. Isn’t there seeding? Portugal continue to struggle, behind Israel on GD, and Russia (8 for, 0 against) by a point and two games versus N Ireland and Luxembourg. Bosnia and Greece sliding through.
And Engerland just need to hold off Poland or Ukraine for the playoff spot, and btw, they can still easily win their group, though I don’t know what the fixture list looks like.
And then Spain and France. France and Spain. Again, UEFA may want to look at their seeding algorithms.