Crucial phase for Mexico and the US in the Concacaf FIFA World Cup qualifiers

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In the next seven days, Concacaf teams will play three matches that will go a long way to deciding who clinches a spot at Qatar 2022. With six games to go, Canada, the US, and Mexico occupy the three automatic qualifying places in the table. Here’s what to look out for in the coming days.

Can the United States qualify in this window?

The short answer is, yes. Doing so would certainly make the USMNT’s final three matches in qualification – which take place at the end of March and include two formidable away matches against Mexico and Costa Rica – a lot less stressful.

First, they’ll need to win their next three matches. Beating an ascendant Canada in Hamilton won’t be an easy task. And US Soccer may have kneecapped itself by hosting El Salvador and Honduras in frigid temperatures, something that could nullify any advantage the USMNT hold.

If the Americans do take all nine points, the performance of their nearest contenders – Mexico, Canada, and Panama – comes into play. Qualification in this window requires one or two of those teams to have an abysmal run, as in, losing all three games. It would also require the teams in fifth and sixth – Jamaica (seven points) and Costa Rica (nine points) – to have one or two stumbles themselves.

Will Canada prove to be Concacaf’s top dog?

Canada has had a meteoric rise to become a Concacaf contender. Their coach, John Herdman, may very well be the most compelling manager in the region. Herdman has worked diligently to develop a competitive, passionate soccer culture in Canada. Despite not making a World Cup since 1986, Canada looks poised to not just qualify but do so in the first place of the region known as Concacaf.

But they have a few hurdles to navigate first. One is maintaining their performance on the road. Canada played five of their first eight matches in this round of qualification at home, meaning four of their final six games will be on the road – a tough proposition in a confederation known for its grueling away trips. That said, Canada’s two toughest away matches – on paper at least – have already been played: they drew in the US and Mexico.

The major test in this window is their home match against the US. They will be without their best player, Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, due to Covid and the US will be out for revenge after conceding points in Nashville. A win or draw would put Canada firmly on the path to Qatar. A loss though would be a major stumble with a number of tough away trips to come.

Source: MARCA

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