The preliminary draw for Concacaf 2022 World Cup Qualifying first round was revealed along with the schedules for teams in the Final Round on Wednesday. The usual Hex format has been scrapped with the new Octagonal.
Eight nations will compete in the final Octagonal with five (USMNT, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica) automatically qualified. The three nations joining these five will come from this pot of nations.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) August 19, 2020
Each winner of one these six groups will then plays a two-legged tie against another group winner to determine the three nations joining the USMNT and Co.
These winners will face each other in these two-legged ties:
- Matchup 1: Group A Winner vs. Group F Winner
- Matchup 2: Group B Winner vs. Group E Winner
- Matchup 3: Group C Winner vs. Group D Winner
USMNT fans might not think much of these matches at first, but these results will determine who the first opponents will be for the Red, White and Blue. The first window of World Cup qualifying for the USMNT will be June 2021. The four opponents in the two June 2021 windows will be, in order, the Matchup 1 Winner, Matchup 2 Winner, Honduras and Jamaica.
Trinidad & Tobago could be the first team the U.S. has to play. If the Caribbean nation advances out of Group F and defeats the winner of Group A (El Salvador is the favorite) then the USMNT Revenge Tour would start with the team that blue-balled them from the 2018 World Cup.
The rest of the road for the USMNT looks like this:
USMNT World Cup Qualifying Schedule For 2022
Our path is set! Here's the 's slate of games for 2022 @FIFAWorldCup Qualifying.More info on our schedule and things like "What does A/F Winner mean?": https://t.co/47wwEQ8x5k pic.twitter.com/S8ZXiAEVHX
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) August 19, 2020
The matches everyone will be eyeing is the continuation of the Mexico-USA rivalry. Mexico will play in the U.S. first in Oct. 2021 and then the match at Azteca is scheduled for Jan. 2022. One worrying sign for the USMNT is if the team needs a result on the final matchday, it will be away at Costa Rica. The USMNT lost both of its matches to Costa Rica in the last World Cup qualifying campaign.
In order to make the trip to Qatar in 2022, the USMNT will need to finish in the top three by the end of the final round. The fourth-place finisher will have an intercontinental play-in tie against a nation from another region to be announced. The remaining teams will be eliminated.