USMNT and Canada get boost, learn opponent for potential WCQ playoff
The draw for FIFA's intercontinental playoffs was held Friday and offered a boost to the North American nations eyeing a place at the 2022 World Cup.
If the United States or Canada finishes fourth in CONCACAF's final World Cup qualifying round - the "Octagonal" - they'll play against a team from the Oceania region (OFC) to determine who earns a ticket to Qatar.
That single-elimination match will take place at a neutral venue on June 13 or 14. OFC qualifying is yet to begin because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but New Zealand is the heavy favorite to emerge as the region's playoff representative for the fourth consecutive World Cup cycle.
Though the CONMEBOL table remains very tight, it seems likely that one of Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, or Paraguay will enter the playoff; Brazil and Argentina have already qualified for the World Cup, while Ecuador is on the verge of an automatic berth, too.
Avoiding those potential opponents is a boon for the CONCACAF hopefuls.
The top three teams from the Octagonal earn automatic spots in next year's tournament, while the fourth-place finisher goes into the winner-takes-all playoff. Canada sits atop the table with six games remaining, ahead of the United States and Mexico; fourth-place Panama, currently occupying the playoff spot, is only two points adrift of John Herdman's team.
CONCACAF qualifying resumes in January.