Breaking down the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying schedule

USMNT World Cup draw
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The CONCACAF draw has a sense of humor and could send the United States to Trinidad and Tobago — the site of the biggest embarrassment in USMNT history — if the Soca Warriors qualify for the final round of 2022 World Cup qualifying.

The United States knows its path to the World Cup, and it was blessed with a straight-forward start to qualifying when CONCACAF conducted its first stage and final round draws on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full schedule, groupings in CONCACAF qualifying ]

That, of course, means that any early stumbles will make the business end a brutal affair.

Two of the Yanks’ three final qualifiers are away to Mexico and Costa Rica, foes they won’t meet at all over the first five matches on the World Cup qualifying docket.

As a cheat sheet, here are the nations which are not super longshots to play the roles of playoff winners:

Groups A + F: El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago
Groups B + E: Canada, Haiti, Nicaragua
Groups C + D: Curacao, Guatemala, Panama

The Yanks will finish their qualifying run with three of five dates away from home, possibly in Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica with home dates against Honduras and either Curacao or Panama.

That’s grimy, but the early dates and the USMNT’s young and loaded roster should not have to worry about too many points by that point if they stick to the script of taking nearly every point at home and beating the lesser lights away.

June 2021 — Window 1 — AWAY to A/F winner;  HOME v. B/E winner

June 2022 — Window 2 — AWAY to Honduras; HOME v. Jamaica

Sept 2021 — Window 3 — AWAY to C/D winner; HOME v. Costa Rica

Oct 2021 — Window 4 — HOME v. Mexico; AWAY to Jamaica

Nov 2021 — Window 5 — HOME v A/F winner; AWAY to B/E winner

Jan 2022 — Window 6 — HOME to Honduras; AWAY to Mexico

March 2022 — Window 7 — HOME to C/D winner; AWAY to Costa Rica