Well, disaster averted for the U.S. men's national soccer team. Faced with the dire possibility of not even making it to the fourth and final round of qualifying — the CONCACAF "Hexagonal" round, in which all six teams play each other twice, with three teams advancing (and maybe a fourth) — the USMNT went out and hammered Guatemala last night 3–1 in Kansas City to secure safe passage. The U.S. fell behind 1–0 but scored three unanswered goals to run away with the win. (The keys were Michael Bradley, playing terrific for a coach who isn't his dad, and Eddie Johnson, a salvage from the soccer scrap heap.) For all the concern and worry, the U.S. ended up winning its Group, Group A, rather handily. So who else advanced? Your six Hexagonal round teams are: the United States, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama. (Canada was eliminated when it lost 8–1 to Honduras.) The next, final CONCACAF World Cup qualifying round begins in February and lasts until October. The U.S., whew, will definitely be a part.
Photo: Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images