In a thrilling round of World Cup Qualifiers to close out 2021’s international soccer calendar, Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Kemar Lawrence and Eriq Zavaleta each donned their respective national team jerseys once again as the road to Qatar continues to intensify.
The four of them have been regulars on the international scene in 2021, and it’s highly likely that they’ll be back in action come January 2022 when CONCACAF’s final round of World Cup Qualifying resumes.
Osorio and Laryea were a part of a Canada squad that arguably had their greatest window in history, while Lawrence and Zavaleta will now feel as though their hopes of reaching the World Cup are diminishing as the international breaks pass.
With more than half of the octagonal now played, let’s see how TFC’s call-ups performed over their national sides’ two November fixtures.
Canada - Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio
Canada is top of the table, need we say more?
After historic wins over Costa Rica and Mexico, Les Rouges will enter 2022 atop of the octagonal with six matches left to play. John Herdman’s side may only be two points clear in first, but given the stellar performances in their eight matches so far, this Canada squad undoubtedly has their sights firmly set on qualifying for Qatar 2022.
Richie Laryea, who has established himself as a staple in Herdman’s XI, started both of Canada’s November matches, playing 72 minutes against Costa Rica and the full 90 against Mexico.
The electric wing-back has now caught the eye of many more soccer fans across the globe, and while TFC fans may get nervous during the January Transfer Window, Laryea looks set to have his name thrown around the transfer rumour mill in just over a month’s time.
As for Osorio, Canada’s No. 10 made substitute appearances in both of Les Rouges’ fixtures, playing just over 10 minutes in both games combined. Against Mexico, TFC’s record appearance holder ensured his side fended off any late pressure from the opposition to keep the 2-1 lead intact.
Ultimately, there’s no denying that Laryea and Osorio will be back for Canada’s next camp at the end of January.
Jamaica - Kemar Lawrence
Despite going unbeaten in November, Jamaica only picked up two points from two games after 1-1 draws against El Salvador and the United States respectively.
While their draw against the Americans may have been an impressive result, the Reggae Boyz sit seven points behind the automatic qualification spots with tough away trips to Panama and Canada still to play.
Against El Salvador, Kemar Lawrence started, played the full 90, and provided the assist for West Ham striker Michail Antonio’s goal in the 82nd minute. Yet, Alex Roldan’s 90th minute equalizer meant the spoils were shared in San Salvador.
Lawrence was in the XI for the eighth consecutive time when Jamaica hosted the US, but he was unable to complete 90 minutes for the first time in the Octagon as an injury forced him off at halftime.
El Salvador - Eriq Zavaleta
Having missed the October window because of a concussion, Eriq Zavaleta returned to La Selecta for their crucial matches with Jamaica and Panama. Yet, A draw and a loss in November leaves El Salvador eight points adrift of Panama in fourth.
In the 1-1 draw with Jamaica, Zavaleta started and squared off against his club teammate Lawrence. In spite of starting his first match for El Salvador since September, TFC’s No. 3 only played the first 45 as he was subbed out at halftime.
It was a similar story against Panama as Zavaleta lasted only 38 minutes due to injury. He was taken out of the game with his side 1-0 up, but two second half goals from Panama inflicted El Salvador’s fourth loss in eight games.