THE Socceroos took care of business against Syria — now they wait to discover their final foe.
Games between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States, Honduras and Mexico and Panama and Costa Rica will decide the final placings in the group — and the team Australia must defeat to qualify for the World Cup.
Mexico and Costa Rica have already secured qualification and are likely to be joined on a direct path to Russia by the US, which can secure its eighth straight World Cup berth with a win or a draw against the bottom-ranked Carribean nation.
Panama has a slight edge on securing fourth place — which carries the reward of a date with the Socceroos — because of a superior goal difference to Honduras.
But there’s plenty to be decided when all three games begin at 11am AEDT.
Standings: 1. Mexico (21 points, +10 goal difference), 2. Costa Rica (16, +7), 3. US (12, +5), 4. Panama (10, -2), 5. Honduras (10, -7), 6. Trinidad and Tobago (3, -13).
Teen sensation Christian Pulisic started America’s revival when the second half got underway, scoring his team’s first goal after drilling accurately from the D.
The 19-year-old plies his trade for German outfit Borussia Dortmund and is the most exciting player on the US roster. His strike showed just why he’s so highly regarded by dragging America back into the contest against Trinidad and Tobago with his ninth goal in 20 international appearances.
Costa Rica still leads Panama 1-1 and Mexico remains ahead 2-1 against Honduras.
Trinidad and Tobago heaped more misery on America, doubling its advantage with a goal about 10 minutes before halftime to make it 2-0. Alvin Jones’ unstoppable strike from nearly 40m out left keeper Tim Howard with no chance.
Elsewhere, Honduras levelled things up at 1-1 in its clash against Mexico before the top-placed side in the region hit back almost immediately to regain a 2-1 lead just before halftime.
Costa Rica also went ahead 1-0 against Panama about five minutes before the break.
These developments help the US because if no more goals are scored in any of the matches, America still progresses to Russia automatically even with a loss.
But that knowledge isn’t doing much to ease the pain of American supporters, who have been quick to criticise a woefully sub-par performance.
Trinidad and Tobago silenced US fans with a goal after 17 minutes. The opener went down as an own goal when defender Omar Gonzalez tried to clear a cross, but he only managed to loop the ball over goalkeeper Tim Howard’s head to make it 1-0.
It could have been so much worse for the Americans had the home side’s shouts for a penalty a minute later — following a challenge from that man Gonzalez — been rewarded.