World Cup Qualifying Roundup: Three Boys in Gold Play Crucial Matches for National Teams
The second-to-last match window of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying is set to begin on Thursday, Jan. 27 with the eight teams in the "Octagonal" set to face off with each other in the second leg of their home and away series. Nashville SC has seen three Boys in Gold called up to represent their respective countries before its 2022 Major League Soccer season kicks off on Feb. 27 in Walker Zimmerman, Randall Leal and Aníbal Godoy.
The top three teams earn an automatic qualifying bid to the FIFA World Cup, while the fourth-place team participates in single-leg FIFA Intercontinental Playoffs for one of the final World Cup spots. After three matches during this window, the final three matches of qualifying will be played March 24-30 during the FIFA Match Window of March 2022.
Here's how the Boys in Gold have done thus far in qualifying as well as what lies ahead. This article will be updated with results as matches are played.
Walker Zimmerman (USA)
The United States Men's National Team ended 2021 with 15 points, good for second place in the "Ocho" standings behind Canada. A major reason for this success has been Walker Zimmerman holding down the back line and creating opportunities on the attack. In his World Cup Qualifying debut on Oct. 7, 2021, he helped guide the US to a 2-0 shutout of Jamaica, winning 12 of 13 duels en route to earning himself a clean sheet and a key three points for his side. In the United States' 2-0 victory over Mexico on Nov. 12, Zimmerman had arguably his best match for the United States, winning eight of 10 duels and recording eight clearances and four interceptions.
The 2021 Major League Soccer Defender of the Year helped the U.S. to a 8W-1L-1D record across all competitions, recording six clean sheets in the process. This window will see the U.S. attempt to vault into the top spot in the standings with three important matches, including a crucial tilt on the road at Canada on Sunday, Jan. 30.
United States vs. El Salvador - Thursday Jan. 27, 6 p.m. CT, Lower.com Field, Columbus, Ohio, ESPN2/UniMás/TUDN
Canada vs. United States - Sunday, Jan. 30, 2:05 p.m. CT, Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Canada, Telemundo/Universo/Paramount+
United States vs. Honduras - Wednesday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. CT, Allianz Field, St. Paul, Minn., Fox Sports 1/Univision/TUDN
Randall Leal (Costa Rica)
The Costa Rica Men's National Team finds itself in fifth place in the "Ocho'' standings with nine points and a record of 4W-2L-2D. Since his debut for the National Team in 2018, Randall Leal has accumulated 26 caps and has played in six World Cup qualifying matches. Costa Rica will need to turn the tide in order to find itself in the top four with six matches remaining. Los Ticos' first test during this window will come against Leal's Nashville SC teammate: Aníbal Godoy and Panama.
Costa Rica vs. Panama - Thursday Jan. 27, 8:05 p.m. CT, Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica, Universo/Paramount+
Mexico vs. Costa Rica - Sunday, Jan. 30, 5 p.m. CT, Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico, Univision/TUDN/Paramount+
Jamaica vs. Costa Rica - Wednesday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m. CT, National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica, Universo/Paramount+
Aníbal Godoy (Panama)
Panama Men's National Team enters the last pair of three-match qualifying windows in fourth place in the "Ocho" standings. Panama has a record of 3W-2L-0D across its last five matches. Aníbal Godoy has been a long-standing member of the National Team, earning 112 caps since debuting in 2010. Against the United States on Oct. 10, 2021, Godoy provided the lone goal in a 1-0 victory. In 2021, the midfielder led Panama through the first two rounds of World Cup Qualifying and into the "Octagonal," earning a 7W-2L-3D record across his 12 appearances. Panama will look to Godoy's experience and leadership as it attempts to stay in the top four of the standings.
Costa Rica vs. Panama - Thursday Jan. 27, 8:05 p.m. CT, Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica,Universo/Paramount+
Panama vs. Jamaica - Sunday, Jan. 30, 5:05 p.m. CT, Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama, Universo/Paramount+
Mexico vs. Panama - Wednesday, Feb. 2, 9 p.m. CT, Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico, Univision/Paramount+
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