Friday Five: Intrigue and upheaval sum up the first matchday of the Hexagonal

Honduras tops the table, Mexico and the U.S. try to forget about their missteps and the rest wonder whether their first displays can provide a platform for a World Cup berth.
1. Forget about inevitability – uncertainty rules in the Hex: The first matchday saw three stellar goals in Panama City and San Pedro Sula, two favorites fall to unexpected results and one down-and-out side engineer an unexpected two-goal comeback. May this sort of intrigue and upheaval persist through the next nine rounds. If history provides a reliable indicator, then it may just do so.

2. Sputtering favorites have little to fear: Inquisitions started in Mexico and the U.S. after poor results to start the Hex. Those temporary setbacks – a home draw with Jamaica and an away defeat in Honduras, respectively – may inspire some vigorous debate and prompt some internal deliberations about the proper course. They won't disrupt the path to Brazil, though. Both sides simply possess too much talent to miss out on the World Cup given the strength of the opposition. No amount of handwringing will fix the first result or stop either of these sides from claiming one of the three guaranteed berths out of this region.

3. Honduras can take a large step toward Brazil in March: The home victory over the U.S. leaves the Hondurans in a wonderful spot. If they can replicate their recent success against the Mexicans in San Pedro Sula on March 22 (and perhaps snatch a draw in Panama City four days later), then the path to a second consecutive World Cup berth is fairly clear. In this tight group, home dominance over the heavyweights could provide the difference.

4. Ruiz and Saborío vital to Costa Rica's chances: This isn't a vintage Costa Rican outfit. The defense isn't particularly strong. The midfield isn't particularly dynamic or firm. But Jorge Luis Pinto's side will always have a chance with Bryan Ruiz and Álvaro Saborío in the side. Both players scored – though that word hardly does justice to Ruiz's overhead kick to equalize in the late stages – to salvage a 2-2 draw in Panama City. Similar heroics could help the Costa Ricans navigate through this minefield and seal a place in the top four.

5. Jamaica can finally lean on its discipline and its organization: Theodore Whitmore deserves ample credit for the work he has done with this group. The recent integration of several players from England – including the seemingly crucial Jobi McAnuff – could have disturbed the team chemistry and disrupted the solid shape displayed in the semifinal round. A 0-0 draw at the Azteca shows this group of players possesses the potential to upset the low expectations heading into the Hex. Now they must maintain this level of application and polish off a few of those chances in front of goal to ensure the result in Mexico City supplies a platform for further success.

Follow KYLE MCCARTHY on  or shoot him an email