Krisztian Nemeth was Sporting Kansas City’s man of the hour on Sunday as he helped Hungary qualify for Euro 2016, the nation’s first European Championship berth since 1972. But as the international break carries into Tuesday, three of Nemeth’s club teammates have their sights set on 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.
United States at Trinidad and Tobago – 5:25 p.m. CT
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Besler and the United States had little trouble beating St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6-1 on Friday, but Tuesday’s road match against Trinidad and Tobago will be a different challenge altogether. The Soca Warriors, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, made a winning start in Group C with a 2-1 result at Guatemala on Friday. Trinidad and Tobago also has a history of giving the U.S. a hard time at Hasely Crawford Stadium: they beat the Yanks in the third round of World Cup qualifying in 2008 before narrowly falling 1-0 a year later in the hexagonal.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann passed on Besler for the 2015 Gold Cup, a tournament the U.S. finished in fourth place. The German manager has turned to Sporting Kansas City’s captain since then, starting him in the CONCACAF Cup against Mexico and on Friday as the U.S. snapped a three-game losing streak. Besler could be in line for another cap Tuesday as the Americans hope to take early command of Group C.
Canada at El Salvador – 7:30 p.m. CT
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No Sporting Kansas City player has been busier on the international front in 2015 than de Jong. Canada has emerged with shutouts in six of de Jong’s nine appearances this year, including a 1-0 victory over Honduras on Friday. That win exorcised the demons of an 8-1 loss to Honduras in 2012 and more importantly gave Canada some breathing room in Group A with two games against Mexico looming next year.
Tuesday’s test brings de Jong and Canada to El Salvador, a side they drew 0-0 in this summer’s Gold Cup. The Reds are seeking its first win in Central America since 2004, but even a point would put Benito Floro’s men in solid position heading into the final four matches in Group A.
Haiti vs. Jamaica – 6 p.m. CT
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After a 12-month break from the international scene, midfielder Soni Mustivar earned his seventh cap for Haiti in Friday’s 1-0 loss at Costa Rica. Sporting Kansas City’s co-Defensive Player of the Year was introduced as a second-half substitute, marking the first time he had represented his country since the 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup. Mustivar excelled during his first season in Kansas City, leading MLS in interceptions per game with a 15-5-6 record as a starter. Whether he can be equally effective for Haiti could go a long way in deciding the nation’s fate in a daunting Group B that includes Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica.
Haiti made its lone World Cup appearance in 1974, and to preserve any hopes of qualifying this time around, a home result against Jamaica — who lost 2-0 to Panama on Friday — appears to be a must. These countries squared off in the Gold Cup quarterfinals this summer with Jamaica advancing 1-0.