CONCACAF 2022 World Cup Qualifying: How the format works, what USMNT has to do to qualify

·3 min read
Walker Zimmerman dribbles the ball during practice at Lipscomb Academy  in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
Walker Zimmerman dribbles the ball during practice at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

The US Men's National Team has been training all week in Nashville in preparation for their opening three matches in the final round of CONCACAF 2022 World Cup Qualifying

Eight teams will play 14 games (home-and-homes with each country), with the top three teams The countries involved: United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador. This style, similar to CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying, is new to CONCACAF for this World Cup cycle.

The top three teams will qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the fourth-place team will face a two-match tie, against similarly top non-qualifying teams from either Asia, South America or the Oceanic countries, for the final spot in the field.

CONCACAF's 2022 World Cup qualifying final round process is contained within five matchday windows as dictated by FIFA's international break dates.

The dates for those matchday windows:

Matchday 1-3: September 2-8

Matchday 4-6: October 7-13

Matchday 7-8: November 8-16

Matchday 9-11: January 27-February 2, 2022

Matchday 12-14: March 24-30, 2022

Tyler Adams passes the ball during practice at Lipscomb Academy  in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
Tyler Adams passes the ball during practice at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

US Men's National Team CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying schedule

0-0 draw at El Salvador on Sept. 2

1-1 draw vs. Canada on Sept. 5

4-1 win at Honduras on Sept. 8

2-0 win vs. Jamaica on Oct. 7

1-0 loss at Panama on Oct. 10

2-1 win vs. Costa Rica on Oct. 13

2-0 win vs. Mexico on Nov. 12

1-1 draw at Jamaica on Nov. 16

1-0 win vs. El Salvador on Jan. 27

2-0 loss at Canada on Jan. 30

3-0 win vs. Honduras on Feb. 2

0-0 draw at Mexico on March 24

5-1 win vs. Panama on March 27

at Costa Rica, March 30, 2022

CONCACAF 2022 World Cup Qualifying table

Through 13 matches

Top three advance to World Cup; fourth place in playoff

Canada | 28 points | 8W-4D-1L | +17 goal differential

USMNT | 25 points | 7W-4D-2L | +13 goal differential

Mexico | 25 points | 7W-4D-2L | +7 goal differential

Costa Rica | 22 points | 6W-4D-3L | +3 goal differential

Panama | 18 points | 5W-3D-5L | -3 goal differential

El Salvador | 10 points | 2W-4D-7L | -8 goal differential

Jamaica | 8 points | 1W-5D-7L | -11 goal differential

Honduras | 4 points | 0W-4D-9L | -18 goal differential

How many points will it take for the US to avoid the embarrassment of missing the 2018 World Cup?

Because of the new format, it is unclear. Under the six-team, 10-match hexagonal format, 15 points or more was, more often than not, good enough to make the top three. That adds up to 1.5 points per match. Given that the final round has expanded by two teams, that rate may rise a few tenths. But a target number is unclear until this format is played at least once.

The USMNT, at 10th, is the second-highest ranked team in FIFA's current world rankings. Mexico, whom the USMNT defeated twice over the summer, is one spot ahead in 9th. Regardless of whatever target point total there may be, the objective is clear. It would be a major surprise to see the USMNT not qualify for the World Cup.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying format: What USMNT has to do to qualify