The path for both the United States and Canada to qualify for the 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar has been laid out.
On Wednesday, Concacaf conducted a draw to place teams into groups and set schedules for qualification games. There will be three rounds of qualification. The USMNT are already in the third round thanks to being one of the top five ranked teams in the federation in the FIFA World Rankings while Canada will begin in the first round, vying to be one of three teams to get to the final round of qualification against the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras
Here are the paths for both nations to Qatar in 2022:
Here's how the Final Round Draw worked out:— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) August 19, 2020
1️⃣ Winner Group B/E Playoff
2️⃣ 🇭🇳 Honduras 🇭🇳
3️⃣ Winner Group A/F Playoff
4️⃣ 🇺🇸 USA 🇺🇸
5️⃣ Winner Group C/D Playoff
6️⃣ 🇨🇷 Costa Rica 🇨🇷
7️⃣ 🇲🇽 Mexico 🇲🇽
8️⃣ 🇯🇲 Jamaica 🇯🇲
Stay tuned for more info!
The USMNT advanced straight to the final round of qualification by being one of the top five Concacaf nations in the FIFA rankings. They arrive at the final eight-team group alongside Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras. The final three teams will be determined later (more on that in the Canada section).
At Wednesday's draw, the USMNT learned more about their opening matchup.
They kick off their road to Qatar in June 2021. Their opening match will be against one of the teams to advance through the second round of qualifying, either the winner of Group A or the winner of Group F. The seeded teams in those groups are El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago.
The USMNT face Mexico on matchdays No. 7 and No. 12. If Canada advance, they'd face CanMNT on matchdays No. 2 and No. 10. They will close out qualifying away to Costa Rica.
The top three teams of the eight in the third round of qualification after 14 matches will book their tickets to the 2022 World Cup. Fourth place will have a chance to qualify, though will play a two-legged qualification series against a country from another federation in June 2022.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Preliminary Draw— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) August 19, 2020
Canada's first round opponents
🇨🇦 v 🇧🇲 Canada v Bermuda
🇰🇾 v 🇨🇦 Cayman Islands v Canada
🇦🇼v 🇨🇦 Aruba v Canada
🇨🇦 v 🇸🇷 Canada v Suriname#CANMNT https://t.co/z3pJ9K9xjU
Canada's path to the 2022 World Cup is a bit trickier than the United States, because they will have to play their way into the final group.
The 30 teams that didn't automatically advance to the final eight are split into five groups of six. Canada entered the draw as the seeded team in Group B, then drawn alongside Suriname, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Aruba. The group games will kick off later this year, with Canada opening against Bermuda in October. They last played Bermuda in 2017, where they won 4-2.
Between the October and November international windows, Canada will play their four Group B matches, two at home and two away. Canada are overwhelming favorites to win their group, led by European-based stars like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, as well as MLSers Jonathan Osorio, Lucas Cavallini and Richie Laryea, among others.
The winners of each group will advance to the second round of qualifying, which will take place in March 2021.
The winner of Canada's group B will play the winner of Group E, which includes seeded team Haiti, over a two-legged series to determine who advances to the final round of qualification alongside the United States, Mexico and the rest.
If Canada advance to the final round of qualification, they'll kick off play against Honduras in June 2021.