The United States are on the verge of qualifying for their ninth World Cup. Victory in Honduras on October 10th will secure their place in next year’s finals, as they will if Costa Rica lose to bottom-placed Trinidad and Tobago. Draws for both US and Costa Rica will also enable Bob Bradley’s men to start looking ahead to South Africa.

However, a dangerous alternative scenario exists. Defeat in San Pedro Sula will leave the US sweating over their automatic qualification spot, as Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras could all edge them out on the final round of World Cup qualifying matches on 14th October. A showdown for a top-three place against Costa Rica, who beat the States earlier in the campaign, would be a tense affair.

A play-off berth with the fifth-placed team in the CONMEBOL table is guaranteed, but this two-legged clash in November is best-avoided: Argentina currently sit in fifth place in the South American World Cup 2010 qualification table. Any of the other prospective opponents would provide a stern test for a team that has struggled away from home in qualification so far.

This travel-sickness makes the trip to Honduras a nervous one for fans of the Red, White and Blues. The three trips to Central America have produced just one point, in El Salvador – and that courtesy of two late goals – with seven goals being conceded in the process. A 1-0 win at Trinidad and Tobago is their only win, which doesn’t inspire total confidence ahead of an assignment at a team that has won all four of its home matches, hitting the net 12 times.