Seven MLS players – five for Venezuela, two for Ecuador – will suit up for Thursday's Conmebol showdown as the two nations battle for seven possible 2026 World Cup qualifying spots (six guaranteed) out of South America.
How to watch and stream
- Thursday, Nov. 16 | 5 pm ET/2 pm PT
- Estadio Monumental de Maturín | Monagas, Venezuela
Venezuela have a crucial opportunity at home to prove they're real qualification contenders against an Ecuador side that also projects to be a top-six bubble team when all is said and done.
So far, Venezuela – who have never qualified for a FIFA World Cup – are enjoying a surprise to start to their 2026 campaign, knocking off Chile and Paraguay and tying Brazil to earn a fourth-place spot on the table. Ecuador have enjoyed a solid start to their campaign after opening with a 1-0 loss to World Cup-winners Argentina, rebounding with a big 2-1 upset victory over Uruguay. A subsequent 2-1 victory at Bolivia and scoreless draw vs. Colombia leaves them in sixth place (2W-1D-1L record).
Venezuela have one of the most MLS-heavy rosters in Conmebol, with five current players seeing minutes for La Vinotinto in the current qualifying cycle. Of those players, Real Salt Lake's Jefferson Savarino may have provided the most memorable contribution thus far: a game-tying assist off the bench against Brazil that snapped a seven-year home winning streak for Seleção in World Cup qualifying.
Savarino, plus the New England Revolution's Christian Makoun, Chicago Fire FC's Miguel Navarro, FC Cincinnati's Júnior Moreno and the Philadelphia Union's José Martinez have all earned in November call-ups. Each has featured previously in qualifying and has a solid chance to play again on Thursday.
Outside of their MLS regulars, Venezuela are led by River Plate attacker Salomón Rondón, Girona midfielder Yangel Herrera and Parma defender Yordan Osorio.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Carlos Gruezo and Inter Miami FC striker Leonardo Campana will both suit up for Félix Sánchez Bas' side. Gruezo has played in every qualifier of the cycle, while Campana earns his first call-up since a pair of friendlies in June.
Chelsea's Moisés Caicedo is La Tri's star man in the middle, while Bundesliga defenders Piero Hincapié (Bayer Leverkusen) and Willian Pacho (Eintracht Frankfurt) hold things down in the back.
Ecuador have qualified for four of the last six World Cups, most recently bowing out in the group stage at Qatar 2022. The group will look to close 2023 strong on the road against Venezuela and then at home vs. Chile. When qualifying begins again in fall 2024, they'll face a road fixture at Brazil, traditionally the toughest fixture of any Conmebol campaign.