The third and final round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying campaign didn’t begin as expected for the Stars and Stripes, as they succumbed to a disappointing goalless draw against an unexpectedly stern El Salvador on the opening group matchday of the qualifiers.
With eight teams – USA, Mexico, Panama, Canada, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Jamaica – competing for the three direct sports and one play-off spot, it is hard to boil down to just four good teams to proceed to FIFA World Cup 2022. USA’s 14-game journey has already begun, with the aim to purge unwanted memories of the previous World Cup failure. Trinidad & Tobago unleashed heartbreak when they won 2-1 in the 2017’s fifth round of qualification, resulting in United States’ first World Cup absence since 1986.
Talented next-gen footballers have emerged since – with some of them going on to achieve heights on the club level in soccer’s ultimate playing field, Europe. Christian Pulisic is now a UEFA Champions League winner, Giovanni Reyna is a cherished prodigy at Borussia Dortmund and FC Barcelona’s right flank is bossed by one 20-year-old Sergino Dest. It will really be surprising to see the country miss out on a top three spot, given the brilliant 26-man squad that includes other players such as John Brooks, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Ricardo Pepi. Coach Gregg Berhalter possess a roster rich in depth and versatility.
The journey begins in September in a quick-fire – as all clashes are – three matches beginning with El Salvador and going on to play Canada and Honduras. October sees Jamaica and Costa Rica visit the States sandwiching a trip to Panama in between, while November is the only month which witnesses only two successive matches being played. The next set of three matches will be played between January 27 and February 2, before the end of March sees another three consecutive matches in the space of six days.
The format takes on the octagonal setting with eight teams replacing the traditional hexagonal-six format. Each team will play 14 matches (seven home, seven away) for three places and a potential fourth which might arrive subject to a win against either an opponent from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), South America’s CONMEBOL or the Oceania Football Confederation in an inter-confederation playoff.
The infamous October 2017 loss against Trinidad and Tobago still looms large over the Yanks’ heads – a match in which the winners didn’t profit from, except registering their first win in the qualifiers and their first win over USA since 2008. Although they will not be able to erase the unfortunate memories of that particular day, they will be hoping not to leave chances hanging on the final day qualification rounds – just like they allowed Panama and Honduras to leapfrog them in the 3rd and 4th places respectively, thanks to their surprise victories against Costa Rica and Mexico.
FiveThirtyEight called the loss against Trinidad and Tobago as the ‘worst in the history of the nation’ and claims of arrogance within the squad began to relentlessly ring in the media. Omar Gonzalez, the defender whose own goal in the matchproved costly, later commented that his doings were to haunt him forever. Of course, this time around, they will look to overcome ghosts of the past with an energetic squad full of potential. Never before has the USMNT’s roster witnessed such an abundance of depth and skillful youngsters.
The next FIFA World Cup in 2026 is to be held in the American continent, with USA, Canada and Mexico as hosts. There are also plans to have 48 teams for the first time ever in the World Cup, which means more chances of qualification and the added bonus of having a home advantage.
There is a mixture of strong and less-strong teams in the group, with Jamaica, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras and Canada all expected to be fighting for closely contested spots. But no team can be taken lightly – the opening game draw against El Salvador proof of it.
According to statistics provided by betting sites, USA, Mexico and Costa Rica are predicted to make up the first three qualification spots and go all the way to the showdown event, while the fourth place for an intercontinental playoff is expected to be highly contested. Just like for soccer, fans of other American sports from across the world – including fighting and mixed martial arts aficionados can access asiabet.org MMA & UFC betting tips in order to garner knowledge of how odds work. Different sites cater to different locations and acquiring first-hand strategies, tips and pointers in one’s favor has never been easier. Players – whether old or new – can expect to be rewarded with a whole range of rewards and bonuses including loyalty points, exclusive access, free bets and VIP programs, among a host of other features.
One can afford to place their hands on USA’s fortunes for a hopefully-safe passage to the greatest football tournament in the world.
Here is the full schedule of USA’s fixtures –
September 2, 2021 – El Salvador 0-0 USA
September 5, 2021 – USA vs Canada
September 8, 2021 – Honduras vs USA
October 7, 2021 – USA vs Jamaica
October 10, 2021 – Panama vs USA
October 13, 2021 – USA vs Costa Rica
November 12, 2021 – USA vs Mexico
November 16, 2021 – Jamaica vs USA
January 27, 2021 – USA vs El Salvador
January 30, 2021 – Canada vs USA
February 2, 2021 – USA vs Honduras
March 24, 2021 – Mexico vs USA
March 27, 2021 – USA vs Panama
March 30, 2021 – Costa Rica vs USA