With four games left, here's what USA needs to happen to qualify for World Cup

Forget the fact that we are just a year away from the 2018 World Cup, there are only four matches left for each team in CONCACAF qualifying. Action returns in September after the June fixtures, and things are a lot clearer for the United States after the shaky 0-2 start. Since Bruce Arena joined late last year, the U.S. is undefeated in qualifying and has eight points from four matches, an impressive collection. Their chances were helped by Tuesday night's result where Honduras and Panama drew 2-2.

Below are the standings, predictions and projecting where the U.S. finishes. In history, 13 points is usually good enough to get the fourth-place spot, which takes the team to a playoff for a spot in the World Cup; 15 to 16 points is usually enough to clinch third place and direct qualification.

Current standings

1. Mexico 4 2 0 7 14
2. Costa Rica 3 2 1 5 11
3. USA  2 2 2 3 8
4. Panama 1 4 1 0 7
5. Honduras 1 2 3 -8 5
6. Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 4 -6 3

Remaining schedule and predictions

vs. Costa Rica on Sept. 1
Prediction: Win

at Honduras on Sept. 5
Prediction: Loss

vs. Panama on Oct. 6
Prediction: Win

at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10.
Prediction: Draw

That would give the U.S. seven points and 15 in the standings. Battling Panama right now for third, the Panamanians have to go to Mexico, host Trinidad, go to USA and host Costa Rica. The best they can probably do there is seven points, which would still see the U.S. finish ahead. The most likely amount of points for Panama from those four matches is four, which would solidify the Americans' spot in third. 

Here's how we predict the teams will finish

1 - Mexico, 22 points
2 - Costa Rica, 16 points
3 - United States, 15 points
4 - Panama, 11 points
5 - Honduras, 10 points
6 - Trinidad and Tobago, 5 points

So, after four games with Arena, the USA's qualifying campaign went from severe to in good health. With four games to go, if the U.S. takes care of business at home, it should be enough to get to Russia next year. 

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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