The United States and Canada moved up in the latest edition of the FIFA World Rankings, released on Thursday – and the latter’s progress is especially significant given the format of the Concacaf 2022 World Cup qualifying process that begins next year.
There was relatively little movement at the top of the Concacaf heap, with heavyweights Mexico still tops in the region at 12th in the world, unchanged from the previous rankings drop in July, and the USMNT up one place to 21st globally.
Costa Rica remains third in Concacaf with a No. 43 rank, up one spot from July and closely followed by Jamaica at 47th, a five-place climb for the Reggae Boyz.
It’s below them that the Concacaf picture starts to get crowded and tight. Honduras comes in at 67th in the world, same as July, then El Salvador at 72nd – a four-place drop for Los Cuscatlecos, which could cost them come next summer.
That’s because Concacaf will use the FIFA rankings – the June 2020 edition, specifically – to select the six teams who will participate in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, which will provide the shortest and clearest path to Qatar 2022.
Canada are keen to ascend into that top-six group as they seek to end their four-decade World Cup drought, and with their positive results in recent Concacaf Nations League action Les Rouges have climbed three places on the FIFA chart, up to 75th, which pushes them ahead of Panama for seventh-best team in Concacaf.
The Canucks have got company, however: Curacao also jumped three places to 76th, while Panama are just a few coefficient points behind them at 77th. That makes a Concacaf logjam at 75-76-77, with Canada, Curacao and Panama within a seven-point range in FIFA's calculations, and El Salvador five points ahead of them.
It could portend a photo finish in the race for the Hex’s final slots.