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Why is the USMNT in Pot 2 for the World Cup draw? Qualification criteria explained

Gregg Berhalter’s team will join Germany, the Netherlands and Uruguay in Pot 2 for Friday’s 2022 World Cup draw in Doha.

Why is the USMNT in Pot 2 for the World Cup draw? Qualification criteria explained

Unless they suffer a complete disaster, the USMNT will automatically book their place at 2022 World Cup later on Wednesday in their final CONCACAF qualifying match. Gregg Berhalter’s team take on Costa Rica needing a win or a draw to secure one of the three automatic qualifying berths. Only in the extremely unlikely event of losing to Costa Rica by six goals or more, could shunt the USA down to to fourth place. The chances of that happening are slim to say the least - the last time the USMNT suffered such a heavy defeat was in April 1957 when they were thrashed 6-0 by Mexico.

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Which CONCACAF teams have qualified?

As things stand, Canada are the only CONCACAF team to have booked their place at the World Cup. They top the standings on 28 points. Just behind them are the United States and Mexico, both on 25 points and Costa Rica in fourth on 22. The most likely outcome is that the USMNT and Mexico will join Canada in qualifying directly for the finals while Costa Rica will end up going into the inter-confederation play-offs in June.

There will be 32 teams in Friday’s draw - these will go into four pots for the draw. Pot 1 features tournament hosts Qatar plus the top seven seeded teams based on FIFA’s world ranking (Belgium, Brazil, France, Argentina, England, Spain and Portugal). Out of the CONCACAF representatives, Canada are expected to land in Pot 3 but the USMNT and Mexico, should everything go to plan, will go into Pot 2.

Ahead of the last CONCACAF qualifiers, Mexico are 12th in FIFA’s ranking and the USMNT are 13th - but that could change depending on Wednesday’s results (Mexico are at home to El Salvador). FIFA will release its updated ranking tomorrow, Thursday 31 March.

How Pot 2 is shaping up

The teams to have qualified so far and who will be in Pot 2 based on their ranking are: Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Switzerland and Uruguay. The USMNT and Mexico will join them if they finish in the top 3 in the CONCACAF table. If one of them doesn’t directly qualify and goes into the inter-confederation play-offs, the vacant place in Pot 2 will be taken by Senegal.

Otherwise, Senegal will remain in Pot 3 along with Iran, Japan, Morocco, Serbia, Poland, South Korea and Canada - providing they beat Panama in their final game. If they don’t, Tunisia will take their place and send them into Pot 4.

Pot 4 will include the five remaining teams who have already booked their ticket plus the two teams who emerge from June’s inter-confederation play-offs. So far, it’s looking like this: Tunisia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia and Ghana. The play-offs will be between AFC Fourth Round winners (Australia or United Arab Emirates) and Peru. Costa Rica could be pitted against either New Zealand or the Solomon Islands. The winner of the Ukraine-Scotland match will play Wales in June for the final berth in Pot 4.


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