I'm not going to lie. I thought the final matchday of Hex play was going to be a formality. And, in a way, it was. Mexico started and ended the day in a qualifying place, ready to go through to a playoff with New Zealand. Panama came into the final match needing a tough win they didn't end up getting.
But simply comparing the tables from the start of Tuesday morning and the end of Tuesday night hardly tells the story of one of, if not the most exciting last few minutes of a Hex campaign ever.
What ensued will leave United States fans with mixed emotions. Mexico is still alive, which kind of sucks, but nothing feels better than having your rivals thank the living shit out of you.
After falling behind to Costa Rica, Mexico was on their way to a loss, as Panama scored to take a 2-1 lead against the United States, allowing the Panamanians to jump above El Tri in the standings. It set the stage for a stunning 92nd minute equalizer from Graham Zusi, essentially allowing Mexico to survive and scrap to fourth spot. It would have been the first time Mexico would be eliminated in the Hex format, which was introduced for the '98 qualifying campaign.
Aaron Johánnsson's winner just before time as Panama pushed for the victory was the nail in the coffin for Los Canaleros, who were looking to qualify for World Cup finals for the first time ever. What was an incredibly seismic day oddly ended up with the status quo in CONCACAF.
The Hex: Football's best example of the chaos theory.
This was an unprecedented final stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. The 2014 Hex saw increased competition across the board and a confederation that appears to be strengthening from top to bottom. OR it could be defenses are improving, or offenses are getting worse. Spin it how you like.
This tournament saw the fewest multi-goal victories ever (8) and the most modest overall goal tally (63) in its history.
Here's another crazy stat: Teams have scored 3 or more goals in a single game on 42 occasions in all five Hex tournaments, combined. Only two of those instances happened in the last year. (Costa Rica 3-1 USA and USA 3-2 Panama)
A few more Hex numbers to crunch: