The United States find themselves in a hole. They have no points from their first two matches of the final round of World Cup qualifying. That led to the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann and now Bruce Arena is in charge, trying to turn things around. His first two qualifiers come this week, on Friday against Honduras (10:30 p.m. ET on FS1) and then on Tuesday against Panama.
There are six combinations of results possible from these two matches. What would each mean for their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup?
If the Americans pick up two wins, they'll be feeling good. Realistically, if they can top 16 points in the Hex, they'll be fine and this would get them more than a third of the way there with three home matches remaining. Wins in those three, plus two points on the road -- all likely -- would almost certainly put them into the World Cup.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
"Win at home, draw away" is the motto for qualifying. Unfortunately for the U.S., their opening two losses mean that may not be enough the rest of the way, but Panama is one of the tougher away trips left in the Hex so if they can win at home then draw at Panama, they'll be alright. There would still be work to do for qualification, and that means getting results away, but they'd be back on the right track and feeling good about making the World Cup.
With three points, the U.S. wouldn't be dead and buried, but they'd still be fighting an uphill climb. After two losses to start, they really do need two results now. Three points leaves them in pretty much the same spot they're in now.
Jennifer BuchananJennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
A pair of draws would be really rough on the U.S. Not only would it mean they need multiple away wins, in all likelihood, to advance, it would also mean they couldn't win at home again. That's catastrophic. The Americans would no longer be favorites to qualify with just two points.
Kevin JairajKevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
This is a disaster. No wins from four matches is awful, especially after two home matches. At this point, it would be unlikely that the Americans make the World Cup.
Joseph MaioranaJoe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
The Americans would still have a chance of making the World Cup with no points from four matches, but only barely. They'd be just about done and sitting on arguably the biggest disaster in the history of American soccer.