Between the presidential election and World Cup qualification, a big 48 hours in Tehran.
Australia is in for the third consecutive time after defeating Iraq, 1-0, to finish second behind Japan in group play. South Korea secured its eighth straight berth but in unconvincing fashion, claiming the second spot in its group on goal difference after losing at home to Iran, 1-0. The only nations to appear in more consecutive World Cups:
After South Korea, the United States is next at six.
In the Asian playoff, Uzbekistan will play Jordan
or Oman this fall, the winner taking on the South American fifth-place side in another stage.
As for the Americans, a victory tonight would set them well on their way to Brazil next summer. It’s still too early to clinch, but barring complete collapse in the fall, a berth would be almost inevitable.
The lineup I expect:
Goalkeeper: Tim Howard
Defenders, right to left: Brad Evans, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Edgar Castillo.
Deep midfielders: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones.
Attacking midfielders, right to left: Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson.
Striker: Jozy Altidore.
Suspended: DaMarcus Beasley.
Yellow cards: Altidore, Bradley, Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Dempsey, Evans, Howard, Fabian Johnson.
Honduras is weakened by injuries, suspensions and dissent (Jerry Bengtson exited this week) but remains a potent adversary. Reminder: The Catrachos were the last team to hand the Americans a qualifying defeat on home soil (3-2 in 2001 at RFK Stadium). The U.S. home streak in qualifiers is 24 matches (22-0-2).
Kickoff: 9:06 p.m. ET.
TV: ESPN, UniMas, WatchESPN. (ESPN3.com in Pacific time zone only)
Weather: 88 degrees, 11 percent humidity, 0 percent chance of rain.
Referee: Enrico Wijngaarde, Suriname.
Other CONCACAF match: Panama at Costa Rica, 10 p.m. ET on both beIN Sport channels.