The road to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 continues with a set of qualifying matches that begin this week. Four Atlanta United players have been called up to play for their home countries: Josef Martínez and Ronald Hernández for Venezuela, Miles Robinson and George Bello for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Both Venezuela and the USMNT play three matches during this stretch from September 2-9.
For teams like the U.S. in CONCACAF, September is the start of a total of 14 matches that make up 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 to earn an automatic berth in the 2022 World Cup. In this round, VAR will not be 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). 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.
Here's everything you need to know about the USMNT’s September matches, results and how to watch:
El Salvador 0, USA 0
San Salvador, El Salvador
- The first match for the U.S. in the Octagonal Round was a hard-fought battle. The U.S. took 13 shots but couldn't convert. Robinson started the match and played a full 90 minutes.
USA 1, Canada 1
- Christian Pulisic returned after missing the first match against El Salvador. The U.S. got on the board first thanks to a goal by Brenden Aaronson but gave up a goal minutes later when Alphonso Davies went down the sideline and crossed the ball to Cyle Larin. Robinson played another full match and came close to having another Gold Cup game-winning moment in stoppage time when his header off a corner kick went just wide.
USA 4, Honduras 1
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- The U.S. came from behind and scored four goals in the second half to secure their first win in the Octagonal. George Bello made his World Cup Qualifying debut. Miles Robinson started and played a full match for the third straight game for the U.S.
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 of FIFA. Teams in this grouping include two of the world’s top FIFA-ranked teams: Brazil (no. 2) and Argentina (no. 6). CONMEBOL has already played some matches in the final qualifying round. After six matches played, Venezuela currently sits in ninth place out of 10. Teams in this confederation need to finish fourth or better to earn an automatic berth in the World Cup. The fifth place team would enter into a playoff.
Here's everything you need to know about Venezuela’s September matches, results and how to watch:
Argentina 3, Venezuela 1
- Argentina went on to score three goals after a red card was issued to Venezuela in the 32nd minute for a hard foul on Lionel Messi. Josef Martínez started for Venezuela and played 67 minutes. Ronald Hernández came on as a sub in the second half.
Peru 1, Venezuela 0
- A red card in the first half left Venezuela with ten men on the field for significant portion of the match for the second straight time. Hernández got the start at right back and played a full match.
Thursday, September 9 – 6:30 p.m. ET
Paraguay vs. Venezuela
- Martínez looks to add to the five goals he’s scored in World Cup qualifying matches. He hopes to get more against Paraguay, the opponent he first made his debut against in October 2017.