Sports

How did the US soccer team help Mexico? By winning

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Credit:

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Bryan Ruiz (R) of Costa Rica controls the ball past Rafael Marquez of Mexico during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match.

Mexico doesn't often thank the US for much, but Mexicans are extremely grateful for the US today. What's that saying? "The enemy of your enemy is your friend?"

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The US men's national soccer team kept alive Mexico's quest to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil. How did they do it?  By winning. Against Panama.

See, right now is crunch time for qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.  And while many teams have already qualified, including the United States, some teams are still trying to squeak their way in. And one of those teams is Mexico.

Last night, in their final simultaneous qualifying group games, the US was playing against Panama and Mexico was playing against Costa Rica.   At one point, late in both games, Mexico was losing and Panama was winning.  That meant Panama was going to get the last World Cup ticket from the North America-Caribbean region, while Mexico was just minutes from being eliminated.  The Mexican players would be forced to watch the World Cup on TV come next June.

But then the unthinkable happened. The United States saved Mexico's bacon. In the last 90 seconds of playing time, the American team came back to score 2 goals and beat Panama.  Suddenly, the roles were reversed.  And what do you know, Panama is the one relegated to watching the World Cup on TV, while Mexico's qualifying quest stays alive.  The Mexican squad now gets to play New Zealand in a playoff next month.

And there's more World Cup news.  Bosnia has qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever.   The tiny Balkan nation treated the players to an open-top bus parade in Sarajevo.  And another small country that might yet make it is Iceland.  It's team qualified for a playoff too.  If Iceland goes all the way to the World Cup, it will be the smallest country ever to qualify.  Iceland has about 330,000 people.  The previous record holder, Trinidad and Tobago, has a population of more than a million.  No offense, Trinidad. but... GO ICELAND!

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