Honduras booked a place at next year’s soccer World Cup, condemning Mexico to a playoff as it seeks a sixth straight appearance at the global championship.
Honduras tied 2-2 against Jamaica, while Mexico lost 2-1 in Costa Rica last night in the final round of group qualifiers in the North and Central America and the Caribbean region. In the other match, the U.S. scored twice in stoppage time at the end of the game to win 3-2 and prevent Panama from snatching the playoff place from Mexico on total goals scored.
The U.S. and Costa Rica had previously claimed berths at the 32-nation World Cup, scheduled from June 12 to July 13 in Brazil. With Honduras taking the final automatic spot, Mexico now faces a two-game series against New Zealand for another place at the tournament. Mexico will host the first game on Nov. 13 or 14, with the return game Nov. 20 in New Zealand.
Mexico was minutes from elimination after Panama, which has never qualified for the World Cup, took a 2-1 lead against the U.S. with an 83rd minute goal. A win for Panama coupled with a loss for Mexico would have given Panama the playoff spot.
The U.S., which has played at every World Cup since 1990, topped the standings with 22 points from 10 games, followed by Costa Rica with 18 points, Honduras with 15 and Mexico with 11.
The U.S. fell behind in Panama City to an 18th-minute curling shot by Gabriel Torres. Michael Orozco tied it in the 64th minute and Luis Tejada put Panama 2-1 up with seven minutes left. Graham Zusi tied it for the U.S. in the second minute of added time and Aron Johansson got the winner a minute later.
Brian Ruiz gave host Costa Rica the lead after 26 minutes in San Jose and Oribe Peralta tied it three minutes later for Mexico, which last missed the World Cup in 1990. Alvaro Saborio restored the home team’s lead in the 64th minute.
Honduras opened the scoring in the first minute in Kingston and Je-Vaughn Watson tied it two minutes later for Jamaica. Maynor Figueroa restored the visiting team’s lead after 33 minutes and it was 2-2 when Rodolph Austin scored from the penalty spot 13 minutes into the second half.