This race for Russia is getting serious…
Ronald Matarrita and Tony Taylor will both be in action this weekend as CONCACAF FIFA World Cup qualifying enters "The Hexagonal" phase.
It’s the final stretch for teams on the continent as the region’s six qualifiers kick off an 11 month, 10 game odyssey to decide who will be heading to the 21st FIFA World Cup.
Trinidad & Tobago v Costa Rica
When: Friday, 6pm ET
TV: beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, beIN SPORTS USA, beIN SPORTS en Español, fuboTV, NBC UNIVERSO NOW, NBC UNIVERSO
The Match: Ronald will be heading to the Hasely Crawford Stadium in the Port of Spain for the first game of Costa Rica’s Hex campaign.
One of the competition’s surprise packages two years ago, Los Ticos were CONCACAF’s best-performing nation in Brazil, reaching the quarterfinals, advancing through a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay.
Matarrita’s men made light work of their Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying Group to reach the last six this time around, dropping only two points in home and away games against Panama, Haiti and Jamaica.
Trinidad & Tobago won’t go gently into the good night, however, as the Soca Warriors earned 11 points in their qualifying group, holding the USMNT to a goalless tie in November 2015.
Honduras v Panama
When: Friday, 3.35pm ET
TV: beIN SPORTS en Español, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, beIN SPORTS USA, fuboTV, NBC UNIVERSO NOW, NBC UNIVERSO, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A.
The Match: NYCFC’s Tony Taylor will be hoping to make his international debut when Panama travel to Honduras for one of their trickiest matches in The Hex.
Of 40 historical meetings between the nations, Panama have won 10, while Honduras, who have reached the last two FIFA World Cups, have won double that amount.
Panama were left heartbroken three years ago when they were denied an Intercontinental Playoff against New Zealand due to two stoppage-time goals from USA on the final day of CONCACAF qualifying but Los Canaleros are now coached by former Colombia and Ecuador boss Hernan Dario Gomez who has a proven track record of leading nations to major competitions.
Taylor, who is one of six MLS-based players in the squad, will vie for selection with Abdiel Arroyo, Gabriel Torres, Blas Perez, Luis Tejada, Roberto Nurse and Rolando Blackburn.
USA v Mexico
When: Friday, 7.45pm
TV: Univision NOW, fuboTV, Fox Soccer 2GO USA, Fox Sports GO, Fox Sports 1 USA, Univision USA, Univision Deportes USA
The Match: USMNT will host Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, looking to make it five straight home wins against their biggest rivals on Friday night.
With a trip to Matarrita’s Costa Rica coming up fast next Tuesday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s men will hope to continue their proud home record against El Tri and get their first three points on the board.
We’ll let you know how Ronald and Tony perform right here on NYCFC.com in Saturday’s international roundup.