International Notebook: Timbers players busy tonight in run to the hexagonal with World Cup qualifiers
Across CONCACAF, 2012 World Cup qualifying resumes once again on Friday and the penultimate matches of Round 3 could make or break qualifying campaigns for a host of nations, most notably in Group B where the Timbers’ Steve Purdy and El Salvador (above left) confront Portland teammate Rodney Wallace (above right) and Costa Rica.
Wallace and the Ticos travel to the Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador where they will try to get a result that would keep their qualification hopes alive as well as give the team a chance to continue its streak of competing in every Hexagonal—the six-team final round of CONCACAF qualifying—since it was adopted in 1997.
Having secured a 2-2 draw in San Jose on June 6, Purdy and El Salvador will be looking to take the full three points on the strength of its preparation and fanatical home support this time around.
El Salvador (5pts) leads Costa Rica (4pts) in the race for second place in CONCACAF Group B and the accompanying ticket to the Hexagonal. El Salvador concludes Round 3 with a match against Mexico in Torreon while Costa Rica hosts Guyana; both matches are scheduled for Oct. 16.
In Group A, Timbers midfielder/defender Lovel Palmer and Jamaica are tied atop the standings with the United States and Guatemala, all with seven points.
The Reggae Boyz and head coach Theodore Whitmore are thinking only of a win in Guatemala City but have been handed extra expectations by outgoing general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation, Horace Reid, who believes the outcome of Jamaica’s next two matches will shape “the destiny of our football for the next 10 years.”
Coming into Friday’s matchup, Jamaica looks to bounce back after their most recent 1-0 loss to team USA on Sept. 11. Leading up to that match the Reggae Boyz had been riding a three-game undefeated streak as they won 2-1 over Guatemala on June 8, drew 0-0 against Antigua and Barbuda and handed team USA a 2-1 loss on Sept. 7.
Guatemala on the other hand, enters tonight’s match looking to redeem themselves after a 2-1 loss to Jamaica on June 8. After that game, the team went on a three-game unbeaten run. Leading up to tonight, Guatemala drew 1-1 with the USA, won 3-1 against Antigua and Barbuda on Sept. 7, then four days later shutout Antigua and Barbuda 1-0 on Sept. 11.
There are currently four players tied with a goal a piece on Jamaica with Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton being the most recent scorers. On the Guatemala side, ex-MLS’er Carlos Ruiz leads the team with four goals. After tonight’s match, Guatemala will gear up for their second match with USA on Oct. 16 in Kansas City at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park (ESPN2). Jamaica will also be back on the pitch the same day as they face Antigua and Barbuda in Kingston.
Jamaica’s match with Guatemala today will be broadcast live on beIN SPORT USA at 7 p.m. PT, Friday following the conclusion of the United States’ game against Antigua and Barbuda, which is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. PT.