Canada Might Just Be USMNT’s Greatest Ally — Here’s How They Can Help

The USMNT shouldn’t and doesn’t need help to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Gregg Berhalter’s side controls its own destiny to make it to Qatar this winter. But it’s never a bad idea to have backup plan, and America’s neighbor to the north is on standby to bail the USMNT out should it fail against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica.

Concacaf is incredibly tight heading into the final three World Cup qualifying games with five points separating second place and fifth place. Only the top three qualify automatically and the fourth-place team gets a play-in game with Oceania's representative.

The biggest threat to the USMNT not qualifying for the World Cup is Central American opposition Panama and Costa Rica. The U.S. will play both teams in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and it will truly be do or die. You know who else plays Panama and Costa Rica? Our good friend Canada.

The Canucks open and close the upcoming three games with Costa Rica and Panama. While both are away games for Canada, the table leaders have yet to lose a game and look poised to make opponents drop precious points.

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Canada has already secured, at minimum, the inter-confederation playoff spot. Two points are all that Canada needs to clinch a top three spot. The Canadians will want to stay undefeated in Concacaf, so don’t expect them to go easy.

If Canada manages to make Panama and Costa Rica drop points it will be a huge bonus for the USMNT.

Concacaf World Cup qualifying’s golden rule has always been “win at home, draw away.” Canada has followed this rule better than anyone with draws in the United States, Mexico and Jamaica while also winning in Honduras and El Salvador. It’s not unrealistic to think that Canada continues the trend and manages two more draws in Panama and Costa Rica.

How Canada Drawing With Panama/Costa Rica Helps The U.S.

Reminder of how the table looks.


If Canada makes Panama drop points and draws, that means the U.S. could most likely lose both games to Mexico and Costa Rica, tie Panama and still get at least fourth in the table. 

The USMNT sits at 21 points. Panama tying with Canada would put the Central Americans at 18 points. For this hypothetical we’ll give Panama a victory in their game vs. Honduras.

The Scenario

  • Panama wins vs. Honduras
  • Panama ties vs. USMNT
  • Panama ties vs. USMNT
  • USMNT loses vs. Mexico
  • USMNT ties vs. Panama
  • USMNT loses vs. Costa Rica

All these results would leave Panama and the U.S. tied at 22 points. The first tiebreaker is goal differential and the U.S. goes into the international window with +8 on Panama.

Costa Rica

If Canada ties with Costa Rica, then a similar situation occurs where the U.S. could lose the Mexico and Panama games, tie Costa Rica and finish at least fourth.

The USMNT sits at 21 points. Costa Rica tying with Canada would put the Ticos at 17 points. For this hypothetical we’ll give Costa Rica a victory in their game vs. El Salvador.

The Scenario

  • Costa Rica ties vs. Canada
  • Costa Rica wins vs. El Salvador
  • Costa Rica ties vs. USMNT
  • USMNT loses vs. Mexico
  • USMNT loses vs. Panama
  • USMNT ties vs. Costa Rica

If these six results play out as so, then the U.S. would finish a point ahead of Costa Rica. (U.S. 22, Costa Rica 21)

Berhalter’s team doesn’t need the help and should get the job done on its own. At the same time it’s nice to know that if Canada is feeling friendly, the kind neighbors can seriously bail out the USMNT.

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