Canada Appears as an Interesting and Unexpected Participant for the Next World Cup after Winning the Concacaf Qualifier. The United States has Serious Chances of Advancing to the Round of 16, Mexico Seems Destined to Stay in that Same Phase, While Costa Rica has the Most Complex Scenario.
Photo: Darko Bandic/AP, TW-Concacaf
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Listen to this article
Leer en español: ¿Hasta dónde podrá llegar el fútbol de Concacaf en Qatar 2022?
Concacaf experienced one of the most exciting and surprising World Cup qualifiers with Canada led by British coach John Herdman galloping the entire final octagonal schedule in first place -which in the end it shared with Mexico in points- but they always maintained in the global due to its best goal difference.
In Latinamerican Post we review the qualities of the four teams that obtained their quota for the Central and North American region, with special emphasis on Canada and the United States, which have processes that look more solid in the future, and of which they can already give a sample in Qatar 2022 before what will be the litmus test as co-organizers of the United 2026 edition.
After beating Jamaica 4-0, the North Americans sealed their pass, but it is important to clarify that they will only play their second World Cup after the one they played in Mexico 86, a tournament in which they were placed in group C, along with France, Soviet Union and Hungary, being last with three losses in the same number of games and no goals for five against.
It is not a country with a soccer tradition, despite the fact that it has hosted youth and women's World Cups organized by FIFA. However, Herdman's work paid off in the qualifiers and this team not only plays very well, but also has several names with experience in European soccer, who suggest that they have a way of causing a surprise in Group F along with the favorite Belgium, talented but aged Croatia and speedy Morocco.
Its main player is the winger Alphonse Davies, figure of Bayern Munich in Germany, in addition to the scorer Cyle Larin (Turkish Besiktas), in fact, it is a very scoring team based on that combination: Davies assisting Larin. Other names to watch out for are attacking midfielder Tajon Buchanan (Belgian Club Brugge), and full-backs Richie Laryea (Nottingham Forest) and Sam Adekugbe (Turkish Hatayspor).
In Buchanan's case, he can bring overflow and imbalance in one-on-one. A wild card that usually enters the starting eleven, for different positions in the attack or midfield and that will surely cause problems for its rivals. Even so, the weakness of their midfield suggests that against Belgium and Croatia it will be very difficult for them to qualify, although this time it seems that they will not leave the World Cup without points.
Greg Berhalter's team finished in the third box of the octagonal final in Concacaf and although they did not show a high consistency in their game, the fact of having been in Group B of the World Cup together with England, Wales and Iran gives them greater possibilities, at less in theory, to advance to the round of 16. The youth of this selection, an average of 24 years, is another point that must be taken into account.
Although the North American soccer now has a greater presence in Europe, even in moments of pressure or adversity he does not usually make good decisions and that can take its toll on him in the group stage. One fact that favors the Stars and Stripes team is that it has played 7 of the last 8 World Cups, and has been a fixture in the tournament since the Italian edition”90 . It was only missing in the previous appointment, Russia 2018.
The first match against Wales will be key as it seems that Gareth Bale's team will be their direct rival. On the last date they will face Iran, with whom they already met in France 1998 in group F, being defeated by the Asians 2-1. If they advance from the group, their rival in the round of 16 could be Memphis Depay's Netherlands or Sadio Mané's Senegal, two teams, a priori superior, but far from invincible.
There is European friction in the national team with Christian Pulisic (Chelsea from England) and Weston McKennie (Juventus from Italy) as its main figures, and also with lower-profile names, but of quality such as Tyler Adams (Leipzig from Germany), Yurus Musah (Valencia from Spain), Timothy Weah (Lille from France) and Brenden Aaronson (Salzburg from Austria). There is quality, but experience is still lacking.
Mexico and Costa Rica
Despite being equal in points with Canada in the lead of the octagonal final of Concacaf, Mexico did not leave a good feeling in their tie and there are many doubts about the functioning of the team led by Argentine coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino. Great things are always expected from what has been the most consistent national team in this confederation when it comes to playing World Cups.
Mexico, like Canada and the United States, has strength from midcourt up, but weakness defensively. Jorge Sánchez and Gerardo Arteaga are very young full-backs on whom Martino has opted. There is talent and experience in the midfield with Andrés Guardado and Héctor Herrera, not to mention the attack with Jesús “Tecatito” Corona and Raúl Jiménez.
The experience also moves to the goal with Guillermo Ochoa, although he is no longer the undisputed starter. Like the USA, their group in the World Cup, group C, gives them opportunities to advance because beyond the powerful Argentina, there is the Poland dependent on Robert Lewandowski and the accessible Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the Costa Rica of the Colombian Luis Fernando Suárez appears, fourth in the octagonal and ranked number 32 to Qatar 2022 after beating New Zealand 1-0 in the playoff. The classification for the "Ticos" looks almost utopian in a group where there are two favorite powers for the title such as Germany and Spain, which suggests that the contest will rather serve players like Bryan Ruiz, Keylor Navas, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte and Bryan Oviedo close their cycles with the national team with honors.