USA, Mexico begin World Cup qualifying run
The United States and Mexico, the traditional mighty powers of CONCACAF, begin their qualifying run on Friday for the 2014 World Cup, which should result in a ticket to Brazil.
The third of four stages of CONCACAF qualifying for the World Cup comprises twelve teams divided into groups of four. CONCACAF includes North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The top two from each group advance to the final qualifying stage and the first three teams from there punch their ticket to Brazil.
The fourth placed team will play against the Oceania region winner in November 2013.
For their first World Cup qualifier contest under the direction of new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the United States cannot afford to make mistakes Friday against the microscopic nation of Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa, Florida.
Since Germany's Klinsmann took over in August 2011, the USA has produced mixed results in a series of 13 friendlies with six wins, two draws and five losses. They have scored 14 goals and given up 12.
The Americans will also have Jamaica and Guatemala as opponents in Group A. Their second game will be against Guatemala on Tuesday.
A coaching change was needed after the US slipped below powerhouse Mexico in CONCACAF supremacy. Klinsmann has tried to change the US from a counter-punching team to an attacking one.
The transition has not been an easy one as evidenced by the three friendlies in nine days they played leading into the World Cup qualifying.
They breezed past Scotland, lacked defence in losing to mighty Brazil and tied an improved Canadian team.
Mexico is in Group B which appears at first glance to be the most electric and competitive group of the three.
Defending Gold Cup champion Mexico will lock horns with Guyana on Friday. Guyana defied the odds by winning Group B of the second round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Costa Rica missed out on South Africa in 2010 by surrendering an 11-hour goal to El Salvador but they are one of the favourites this time, along with Mexico, to reach the next round.
Dark horse Guyana has never been to a World Cup.
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