‘‘It’s a great goal. Nine times out of 10 it goes up in the stands,’’ Howard said. ‘‘From there on, I don’t think we played nearly as well as we could have. And I think we got outplayed in a lot of facets of the game.’’
The general rule in qualifying is to win home games and pick up points on the road. The top three nations in the six-team group represent North and Central America and the Caribbean at next year’s tournament in Brazil, and the No. 4 country advances to a playoff for another berth, likely against New Zealand.
Qualifying resumes when the U.S. hosts Costa Rica on March 22 at Commerce City, Colo., then plays four days later at Mexico. The Americans play at Jamaica on June 7.
‘‘You never want to start with zero. but you can’t panic. There’s nine more games to go,’’ Bradley said. ‘‘At this point the three points in the next game are crucial.’’