Mexico seeks World Cup spot on the road

Posted by Roberto Chavez & Antonio Rusinol, ESPN Stats & Info

Tuesday is the last day of the CONCACAF final round, with one automatic berth and a playoff spot against New Zealand up for grabs. Honduras, Mexico and Panama are jockeying for those two slots, with a playoff spot the most likely outcome for Mexico. Here are five notes previewing today's games:

• Mexico, which is currently fourth in the final round, clinches its 15th World Cup berth with a win and a Honduras loss, if Mexico can win the tiebreaker. Mexico is currently down two on goal difference and down five on goals scored, with Honduras facing Jamaica on the road Tuesday. According to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, Mexico has a 3.3 percent chance of clinching a World Cup berth today.

• It will be far more likely for Víctor Manuel Vucetich’s side to clinch a playoff spot with New Zealand. Mexico can assure itself a playoff berth with a win or a draw against Costa Rica, or a Panama loss or draw against the United States. ESPN’s Soccer Power Index projects Mexico with an 86.0 percent chance of clinching a playoff berth today.

• Mexico and Costa Rica have met each other 41 times, with more than half (23) of those ending in a Mexico win. Costa Rica has won only five, while 13 matches have ended in a draw. Mexico holds a huge edge in goals, with 73 to Costa Rica's 26.

• While it’s true that Mexico has trouble on the road in Central America, San José has been an exception. El Tri are unbeaten in the last five qualifiers in Costa Rica. However, according to SPI, Mexico has only a 17.9 percent chance of winning today, while Los Ticos are 57.1 percent favorites to win.

• Statistically, this has been Mexico's worst qualifying campaign. However, the team's away numbers have not been terrible. El Tri have five points out of a possible 12 and could finish with more points on the road than at home (six) for the first time. The team has allowed the fewest road goals (four) and leads the final round with an average of 1.3 points won per road match.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, is one of the toughest home teams. Los Ticos have won all their home matches by a combined score of 8-1, and a win on Tuesday would make them the second perfect home team in this final round, along with the United States.

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