By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: December 1, 2004
MIAMI, FLA.—And DOWN the stretch they come.
The United States will open the final round of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany as a guest of the Soca Warriors of Trinidad & Tobago. The match will take place on February 9, 2005.
The United States will be seeking to punch its ticket to the World Cup for the 5th consecutive time including 2002 where they reached the quarterfinals. TnT one game away from the World Cup in 1990, only to lose at home 1-0 to the United States, is the lone Caribbean team left in World Cup qualifying.
The US has been led by the likes of Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) midfielder Landon Donovan, PSV Eindhoven (Holland) midfielder DaMarcus Beasley and FC Dallas striker Eddie Johnson who has 5 goals in three matches for the United States and is considered one of the favorites to grab one of the three automatic spots from the CONCACAF region representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Four other teams are vying for a spot on the World’s Greatest Sports Stage: The US’ bitter rivals to the south and 2nd match opponent, Mexico, a 12 time World Cup participant, the talented and competitive Ticos of Costa Rica, and surprise CONCACAF finalists, Panama (in at the expense of Jamaica) and Guatemala who will seek to repeat their qualification feat of 1982.
Though the dates and opponents have been announced, the home venues for the US games have not yet been announced.
Each team will play the others in the group both home and away over the course of 2005 with the top three teams automatically qualifying for the 2006 World Cup while the 4th place side will play a home and home series against 5th place Asian team.
Feb. 9, 2005 at Port of Spain Trinidad Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
March 26/27, 2005 at Mexico City, Mexico Mexico vs. USA
March 30, 2005 USA vs. Guatemala
June 4/5, 2005 USA vs. Costa Rica
June 8 at Panama City, Panama Panama vs. USA
Aug. 17, 2005 USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Sept. 3/4, 2005 USA vs. Mexico
Sept. 7, 2005 at Guatemala City, Guatemala Guatemala vs. USA
Oct. 8/9, 2005 at San Jose, Costa Rica Costa Rica vs. USA
Oct 12 2005
USA vs. Panama