We’ll just go ahead and assume that Barbados will go through and that means the US will go home and home with them starting in June next summer with the US hosting the first leg.
While the most cynical of US fans will correctly point out that the US’ World Cup could end after two qualifying matches in the aggregate series (with away goals counting by the way) , it’s more likely that they will comfortably dispatch their Caribean neighbors with relative ease. In the buildup to the 02′ finals in Japorea the US met Barbados in the semi-final stage and beat them 7-0 in Foxborough and 4-0 in Barbados. This however wasn’t a two game series but group play and in fact the US was a mere 37 minutes away from elimination until a 63rd minute Clint Mathis goal started a four goal explosion to finally put away the clearly overmatched Barbadans.
The US is in much better shape nowadays as far as depth and quality and not much has been heard of from Barbados since their run to the CONCACAF semi’s nearly eight years ago.
My guess is the US goes out at least 3-0 winners in the first leg and comfortably puts the tie to rest in the second leg. Therefore the US would move on to the semi-final stage of qualifying and most likely will meet Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and Cuba in group play starting in August next summer.
All things considered it looks like the US got the easiest draw as they have not lost to any of thier anticipated group comrades in a long long time. And while all three teams have given the US fits in recent years, when the pressure is on the US quality and depth will shine through. Something else in the US’ favor is that the other three teams in the group are relatively equal and will no doubt knock each other off in group play while the US will take care of business in most, if not all of their matches.
Forecasting the US draw
Not knowing the health or who will be in the squad for these matches, this is my blind look at the results (should they fall the way I have predicted so far) through the second round and semi-final rounds. Home team listed first.
USA 4 Barbados 0
Barbados 0 USA 3
USA 2 T&T 0
T&T 1 USA 1
USA 2 Guatemala 0
Guatemala 0 USA 1
USA 3 Cuba 0
Cuba 1 USA 1
USA advances easily with 14 points
Come back next November and tell me how wrong I was.