With soccer’s quadrennial World Cup in Brazil only a year away, qualifying for the 32-country field is heading into the stretch run. So far only Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Australia have booked their places, but most of the usual guests are well-positioned for return trips. That includes the Americans, who lead their regional hexagonal group by two points after consecutive victories over Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras, with four matches to go in the chase for three guaranteed tickets.
That would make seven Cup appearances in a row for the Yanks, who reached the second round last time before losing to Ghana. Only Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Spain, all of whom figure to make it to Brazil, can match that continuity. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com.