Toronto FC players from five different countries have been called up to their respective national teams for the latest round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The Reds don’t play in MLS again until September 11th, but Toronto fans can watch several of their internationals play 2-3 matches on the WCQ stage, including two Canada men’s national team clashes at BMO Field.
With less than 450 days until the tournament in Qatar, certain continental associations have or will soon enter the business end of their qualifying campaigns, and seven TFC players are set to be in the thick of it all.
Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser, Kemar Lawrence, Eriq Zavaleta, Yeferson Soteldo and Chris Mavinga will be fighting alongside their compatriots to move one step closer to World Cup qualification, so let’s take a look at what’s in store for them over the next two weeks.
Canada - Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser
Following an inspiring run to the Gold Cup semi-finals, Canada will now look to carry that momentum into their first three games of CONCACAF’s final round of World Cup Qualifying.
Laryea and Osorio featured in each of Canada’s five Gold Cup games, including the full 120 minutes of the semi-final against Mexico. The duo are likely to remain key players for John Herdman’s squad as Canada looks to reach its first World Cup since 1986.
Fraser, who’s on loan at Columbus Crew for the 2021 MLS season, also returns to Canada’s camp after one start and three substitute appearances at the Gold Cup.
Herdman’s men kick off the Octagonal at home to Honduras on September 2nd before heading to Nashville to take on the United States in a mouthwatering affair (Sept. 5th). Les Rouges will then return to BMO Field for their final clash of September, where they’ll go up against El Salvador (Sept. 8th).
Jamaica - Kemar Lawrence
The Reggae Boyz have only qualified for the World Cup once before, so Lawrence and co. will surely have fire in their bellies ahead of three exciting clashes.
First on Jamaica’s fixture list is a daunting trip to the Estadio Azteca to take on Mexico (Sept. 2nd), but the game will be played without fans as punishment for the anti-gay slurs that were chanted by Mexican fans during the Olympic qualifying tournament in March.
After that, Panama will visit Independence Park in Kingston on September 5th in what will be Jamaica’s first match on home soil since the 11th of March, 2020. A trip to Costa Rica three days later will then conclude the Reggae Boyz’s September camp.
El Salvador - Eriq Zavaleta
Despite only making his debut in June 2021, Zavaleta has cemented himself as an integral figure in the El Salvadoran national team. The centre-back has started and played the full 90 in each of his eight international caps while helping “La Selecta” keep a clean sheet in six of those games.
El Salvador begin their Octagonal campaign with back-to-back home games against the United States (Sept. 2nd) and Honduras (Sept. 5th).
Zavaleta will then play as a visitor at BMO Field when his side goes up against Canada on September 8th.
Venezuela - Yeferson Soteldo
The traditional 10-nation CONMEBOL tournament is one-third completed, and Venezuela has quite the mountain to climb if they are to finish in the automatic-qualifying spots.
Soteldo and his Venezuelan teammates sit second from bottom in the table with four points from six games, and it doesn’t help that their first match (Sept. 2nd) of the international break is against the reigning Copa America champions, Argentina.
Venezuela then heads on a two-game road trip to face Peru (Sept. 5th) and Paraguay (Sept. 9th).
Democratic Republic of Congo - Chris Mavinga
The DRC have yet to play a WCQ game as they were one of the top 26 CAF nations that automatically earned a place in the second round.
Mavinga’s side are in a group of four along with Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania. The country that finishes top of the group will advance to the third and final round of CAF’s qualification process.
In their two September matches, the DRC will play Tanzania at home (Sept. 2nd) and Benin away (Sept. 6th).