SANDY, Utah – CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying came to a close Tuesday night in a wild fashion, with two of three Real Salt Lake internationals seeing action. RSL captain and U.S. international Kyle Beckerman played a full 90 minutes in the Americans’ thrilling 3-2 win over Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. RSL forward Alvaro Saborio subbed on for Costa Rica in the 49th minute and scored the game-winning goal in Los Ticos’ 2-1 win over Mexico. RSL goalkeeper and U.S. international Nick Rimando did not feature for the Stars-and-Stripes on Tuesday.
Both the U.S. and Costa Rica had already qualified for next summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup heading into tonight’s matches, but their results had major implications for the other three CONCACAF nations vying for qualification. Fifth-place Panama looked set to defeat the U.S. 2-1 and slip into the fourth-place playoff spot (knocking out Mexico), but two late goals in stoppage time from Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson officially ended Panama’s qualification bid.
Mexico’s hopes of clinching at least fourth-place in the Hexagonal standings were looking slim as RSL forward and Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio scored Los Ticos’ game-winning goal in the 64th minute – a free header from inside the penalty box. Despite Mexico’s loss to Costa Rica, the Americans' two late goals prevented Panama from catching up to El Tri and preserved their fourth-place finish in the Hex. Mexico will now face New Zealand in a playoff match to determine who will book a ticket to next summer’s tournament.
In the third World Cup Qualifier of the night, Honduras officially qualified with a 2-2 draw with Jamaica, giving Los Catrachos a third-place finish in the Hexagonal standings with a total of 15 points. Jamaica was mathematically eliminated from qualification prior to the match.
The United States finished its 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign in first-place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with a total of 22 points, winning the Hex for its third-straight World Cup Qualifying cycle. Costa Rica finished in second-place with a total of 18 points.
Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio will all return to RSL following Tuesday's matches. All three players are expected to be available for selection in the Claret-and-Cobalt's next match on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Portland Timbers.