The road to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 continues with the next set of qualifying matches that begin October 7. Three Atlanta United players have been called up to play for their home countries: Ronald Hernández for Venezuela, Miles Robinson and George Bello for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
(Josef Martínez was on the preliminary roster for Venezuela, but the striker announced that he won’t be joining his home country at this stage so he can focus on taking care of his body.)
Both Venezuela and the USMNT play three matches during this stretch from October 7-14.
Teams in CONCACAF like the U.S. play three matches in October. These three matches are part of 14 total in the last stage of World Cup qualification that ultimately determines which nations will compete in Qatar. The USMNT needs to finish in third place or better at the end of those 14 matches to earn an automatic berth in the 2022 World Cup. (A fourth-place finish would send them into a playoff.)
This year, the CONCACAF final round of qualifying consists of eight teams – known as The Octagonal. In the past, only six teams competed in the final round. The USMNT went 1-0-2 in the first leg of the Octagonal, tying El Salvador 0-0 and Canada 1-1 before tallying four goals in a 4-1 victory over Honduras.
In this round, VAR is not used, one point is awarded for a draw at the end of regulation (no penalty shootouts) and teams can swap players from game to game (there is no set or final roster).
Here's everything you need to know about the USMNT’s October matches, results and how to watch:
Thursday, October 7 – 7:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Jamaica
- Robinson is becoming a steady centerback for the U.S. He played 90 minutes for all three of their September matches. The United States won the most recent meetings between them and Jamaica, once in the Gold Cup and in an international friendly, outscoring Jamaica 5-1 in that span.
Sunday, October 10 – 6:00 p.m. ET
Panama vs. USA
Panama City, Panama
- The United States travels to Panama for its only matchup this round not played on American soil. Panama put up a gutsy performance against Mexico, the current CONCACAF table leader, back in September that resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Wednesday, October 13 – 7:00 p.m. ET
USA vs. Costa Rica
- At Lower.com Field, the United States looks to continue a strong track record against Costa Rica. The USMNT has won four of the last five meetings, but the one loss came in 2017 at the same stage of World Cup Qualifiers.
While the U.S. is competing for a spot in the World Cup in the CONCACAF, Venezuela is competing in CONMEBOL or the South American section. Teams in this grouping include two of world’s top FIFA ranked teams: Brazil (No. 2) and Argentina (No. 6).
With two red cards in three matches, Venezuela had an uphill battle and went winless in September, falling to 3-1 to Argentina, 1-0 to Peru and 2-1 to Paraguay. The three losses put Venezuela in last place in the CONMEBOL standings with four points.
Here's everything you need to know about Venezuela’s October matches and how to watch:
Thursday, October 7 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Venezuela vs. Brazil
- Venezuela faces a tall task right out of the gate when it goes up against Neymar and one of the most successful teams in World Cup history. Brazil has only lost once so far in 2021, out of 11 matches, and enters October leading the CONMEBOL table with 24 points.
Sunday, October 10 – 4:30 p.m. ET
Venezuela vs. Ecuador
- Ecuador has had a strong showing so far, staying even with Uruguay until a stoppage time goal gave Uruguay a 1-0 win. Ecuador enters October in fourth-place behind the three top teams (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). Venezuela and Ecuador have tied their last three meetings.
Thursday, October 14 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Chile vs. Venezuela
- Two teams at the bottom of the CONMEBOL table meet, each hoping to get their second victory in a must-win match for both squads.