WCQ: Despite 3-2 win over Argentina, Rios and Uruguay face playoff to qualify for Brazil
Egidio Arevalo Rios started and went the full 90 in Uruguay’s 3-2 World Cup qualifying win vs. Argentina in Montevideo Tuesday night.
To the west however, Chile’s 2-1 win over Ecuador in Santiago confirmed that nation’s automatic qualification, pushing Rios and Uruguay into CONMEBOL’s fifth place playoff spot, tied on points but with a worse goal differential than Ecuador.
The fifth-place finish forces Uruguay to a home-and-home, aggregate goals series next month with Asian Football Confederation representative Jordan to determine which nation will go to next summer’s World Cup.
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Rios will more than likely be called in for the two matches, with the first leg coming November 13 or 14 in Jordan and the return leg on November 20 in Montevideo. Should the Fire make the playoffs and still be playing, he would not miss any MLS Cup playoff matches as the Intercontinental playoffs come between Leg 1 (November 9 or 10) and Leg 2 (November 23 or 24) of the league’s Conference finals.
It marks the fourth straight qualifying cycle Uruguay will aim to make the World Cup finals via the Intercontinental Playoff with La Celeste advancing over Australia (2002) and Costa Rica (2010) while being knocked out by the Aussies in 2006.
Earlier in the day in Europe, Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere started and went 75 minutes in Estonia’s World Cup qualifying finale at Romania.
With the result, Estonia finished qualifying with a 2-7-1 mark, finishing second from bottom in UEFA Group D play.
To cap the day, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson sat in reserve of Fire PDL alum Brad Guzan in a wild 3-2 U.S. win over Panama.
Not expected to play in the match, Johnson had a front row seat to see one of the wildest finishes in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying as the U.S. got stoppage time goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johannson to swing Panama out of an Intercontinental playoff date with New Zealand and help arch rivals Mexico keep their World Cup hopes alive.
The result sees the U.S. finish atop the CONCACAF final round hexagonal with a 7-2-1 record (22 points).
All three Fire players are traveling back to Chicago Wednesday and will begin training with the team again Thursday.