The most recent edition of FIFA’s world rankings has exponentially raised the stakes for Canada’s match vs. the US at BMO Field on Oct. 15.
Thanks to a disappointing 2-0 loss to the 167th-ranked Bermudan side on Sept. 8, Canada’s CONCACAF rivals Panama dropped from 74th to 77th in the world rankings. Similarly, El Salvador slumped four spots from 68th to 72nd following a 1-0 defeat against the Dominican Republic (ranked 155th) two days later.
Meanwhile, Canada rose to 75th in the world and more importantly seventh in the CONCACAF region as a result of two consecutive clean-sheet victories (6-0 and 1-0) over Cuba in their opening two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League. Because of these favorable results, John Herdman’s side suddenly has an opportunity to climb into the top six within CONCACAF and earn a spot in the coveted “Hex” qualifying round for 2022 FIFA World Cup.
ANNOUNCEMENT: On October 11, #FootyTalks, @CanadaSoccerEN and @thevoyageurs have partnered up for another #CanMNT rally ahead of their game against #USMNT at @TheRecRoomCA! There will be select players on a panel, giveaways and more!— Footy Talks (@FootyTalksLive) October 4, 2019
RSVP: https://t.co/tArLMzg0bK pic.twitter.com/AViX86kgV9
The Canadians currently trail 6th-ranked El Salvador by only five points heading into their two-legged tie with the Americans. If Herdman and co. can get a win on home soil, they will earn 18 points in the FIFA rankings, while a draw is worth five and a loss means a drop of seven points. Conversely, El Salvador faces Montserrat and Saint Lucia in their next two matches, with only four and five points available in victory respectively.
Curacao’s upcoming fixtures against Panama and Costa Rica could also play a role in Canada’s quest for a top-six regional position. Trailing Canada by only two points and a single place in FIFA’s rankings, victories in one or both of their upcoming matches could propel Curacao beyond Canada.
When the reconstruction of the CONCACAF qualifying process was first announced earlier this summer, the “Hex” route seemed unobtainable for Canada. Now, their fate is in their own hands as the number of points available in their upcoming fixtures would put them in the top six if they can get a result against the US at home.
The Hex qualifying process for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin in June of 2020 and will consist of the top six ranked teams in the region at the time. From that point, three of the six nations will directly qualify for the tournament in Qatar.
If Canada has genuine aspirations of competing in the Hex in June, a favorable result at home against the US will be a vital step in the process. With this in mind, head coach John Herdman will be aiming to field his strongest possible XI at BMO on Oct. 15 in one of the Men’s National Teams more important matches in recent history.