Soccer Down Here
USMNT Learn Path to Qatar 2022
by Bart Keeler
Concacaf conducted its World Cup Qualifying Preliminary Draw yesterday and the USMNT learned its schedule for the qualifying process, starting June 2021.
Yesterday, the U.S. men’s national soccer team found out its qualification schedule for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. FIFA conducted the draw for the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at its headquarters in Zurich. Due to its second-highest FIFA ranking in the region, the USMNT automatically qualifies for the final round and was drawn into slot four in the final-round schedule.
The USMNT will start its path to Qatar 2022 in June 2021 on the road against the winner of the playoff between the Group A and Group F winners. It will then host another playoff winner, either the Group B winner or Group E winner. In a second match window in June 2021, the USMNT will travel to Honduras and before hosting Jamaica.
Qualifiers will resume in September 2021. The Yanks will travel to the Group C or Groud D winner then host what will likely be a revenge match against Costa Rica (which won both matches in the final round of 2018 World Cup Qualifying).
The biggest match of Concacaf Qualifiers will come in October 2021 as the USMNT hosts Mexico. Then, they will travel to Jamaica. This is a very important window for Gregg Berhalter’s team. In 2018, The USMNT failed to beat Mexico at home for the first time in a qualifier for the first time since 1998.
In November 2021, the USMNT will host the Group A/F winner, then travel to the Group B/E winner. Qualifiers will pick up in January 2022, as the Yanks will host Honduras before a road trip to play Mexico. This will likely be the proverbial “make-or-break” window for the USMNT.
Qualification ends in March 2022 with a home match against the Group C/D winner and a road trip to Costa Rica on the final matchday.
Concacaf stratified its member nations into two groups: those with FIFA rankings 1-5 and those 6-35. The top five teams automatically advance to the final round while the lower 30 teams must play a preliminary round of matches.
Qualifying begins in October 2021 with the first two group-stage matches. Two more qualifiers will be played in both November 2021. Each team will play four matches—two home and two away.
The six group winners will then play a two-legged playoff in March 2021. Matchups have been preset: Group A vs. Group F, Group B vs. Group E and Group C vs. Group D.
These three winners will advance to the Final Round of Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. An eight-team round-robin—what many are calling “The Octagon” or “The Octagonal”—will determine the three automatic qualifiers and the fourth-place team will enter an intercontinental playoff.
In total, the qualification process will run 17 months and consist of 122 matches.
Bart Keeler is a freelance sportswriter and commentator focusing on soccer and college football. You can follow him on Twitter @bartimusprime19.