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List of Americans Abroad

CONCACAF favorites are ready to advance to final qualifying round.

Many positives come from qualifying win over Guatemala, but Americans must still get better.

With qualifying at hand, U.S. men still have holes to fill.

Nowak must deal with complicated process to pick U.S. Olympics squad.

Bradley should consider talking McBride out of retirement.

Garber's misplaced comments show outsized expectactions from limited resources.

Unable to afford excellence, MLS instead seeks parity.

Garber's leadership has solidified MLS future.

Braving the rain, D.C. fans are rewarded by Beckham spectacle.

United might be ready to drop D.C. from its address.

Another columnist misses target trying to shoot down soccer.

Chicago fired wrong guy in dismissing Sarachan.

USSF takes first step to improve youth program.

Demands for Beckham are growing to insane levels.

Sunil Gulati and the road not taken.

New D.C. soccer stadium faces many obstacles.

Rongen faces obstacles in molding under-20 men.

Hunt will be remembered as just a regular guy.

Complications in coach selection process are of Gulati's own doing.

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It Seems To Me . . .

CONCACAF final qualifying round will be set after Wednesday games.

By Robert Wagman

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Tuesday, November 18, 2008 ) -- With one round of play remaining in the CONCACAF World Cup semifinal qualifying round, things are going generally as predicted though a few upsets have made things more interesting than might have been expected.

When a young and inexperienced United States men's squad lost 2-1 in Group A to host Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain, the loss was meaningless to the Americans (4-1-0, 12 points) who had already secured advancement to the final round of qualifying. But the Soca Warriors' victory, coupled with Guatemala's unexpected loss to Cuba by the same 2-1 score, was huge for T&T (2-1-2, 8), which went three points ahead of Guatemala (1-2-2, 5) in the race for the second Group A berth in the final round.

If T&T closes Group A with no worse than a draw against Cuba November 19 or if Guatemala does not defeat the U.S. the same day in Commerce City, Colo., the Trinidadians will have made it through to the final six, which could benefit the Americans. One line of thinking goes the U.S. might have helped itself with its loss to T&T because it would be an easier opponent in the final six-nation round robin.

Three of the six teams earn berths in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while the fourth-place finisher enters a playoff for another spot.

Even though the U.S. defeated Guatemala in Guatemala City 1-0 in August, it was a tough physical battle. Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City is a vastly more difficult venue for the U.S. then Port of Spain's Hasely Crawford Stadium or the larger Cricket Oval. The U.S. first team had no trouble with T&T in Bridgeview, Ill., winning 3-0 last month, and it would seem had one might believe had manager Bob Bradley used his first team, in the October 15 rematch, the Americans would have had little trouble winning.

Should the U.S. play T&T rather than Guatemala in the final round, it will also make choosing a venue for the home leg easier. If the Americans want to avoid an unfriendly crowd on its home soil in matches with opponents such as Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, they must be careful in choosing a venue, trying to find a site where these nations have smaller expatriate communities. The same problem would exist with Guatemala, but T&T's fans, even if they turn out in large numbers, have vocal, but pleasant fans. The same is true for Jamaica, but certainly not for Guatemala.

Three of the six final-round participants have already clinched their berths: the U.S. in Group A, and Coast Rica (5-0, 15 points) and El Salvador (3-1-1, 10) from Group C.

Who will advance from Group B is also now an opening question thanks to Jamaica's late surge, winning its last two matches including a 1-0 triumph over Mexico Saturday in Kingston, and Mexico's unexpected swoon - losing to Jamaica and then only getting a draw with Canada.

Mexico (3-1-1) sits on top of the Group B with 10 points, followed by Honduras (3-2) with nine points and Jamaica (2-2-1) with seven points. In final matches, Jamaica will host Canada, while Honduras will square off against Mexico at home in San Pedro Sula.

If Mexico wins, and it will be under considerable pressure at home to prevail, Jamaica would leap over Honduras for a final-round berth with a victory over Canada. A Mexican loss would mean that Honduras would win the group, while Jamaica and Mexico would finish level with 10 points. Currently, Mexico has a plus-4 goal differential, while Jamaica is minus-3, which means an improbable combination of margins would be needed for Jamaica to advance.

The race is over in Group C where Costa Rica (5-0, 15) and El Salvador (3-1-1, 10) grabbed spots in the final round.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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