The United States will have a pretty simple path through the semifinal round of 2018 World Cup qualifying. FIFA's World Cup preliminary draw on Saturday set the Americans' group and schedule for the round and the U.S. have to be rather pleased with the way things turned out.
The U.S. were drawn into Group C with Trinidad and Tobago, the winner of St. Vincent and Grenadines vs. Aruba, and the winner of Antigua and Barbuda vs. Guatemala. Assuming the higher ranked teams win, the group will be Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and Aruba, which is a very manageable group.
The four teams in the group will play each other home and away from November of this year through September 2016. The top two teams advancing to the final round of qualifying.
Many people assume that the semifinal round of qualifying is a cakewalk, with little reason to worry, but the U.S. have shown that's not the case. The team just got knocked out of the Gold Cup and struggled through the tournament despite veery match being on home soil, proving the difficulty of CONCACAF. In addition, four years ago the U.S. needed a result in their final semifinal round match to advance so they were flirting with going out and that group, with Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda, was about identical in quality to this one so the U.S. can very well struggle in this semifinal round.
If the U.S. finishes in the top two of their group, they'll be one of six teams in the final round of qualifying, where the top three teams will automatically qualify for the World Cup. A draw for that round will take place after the semifinal round, but FIFA did determine that the inter-confederation playoff today and the fourth place team in the final round of qualifying will play the fifth place team in Asia for the final spot in the World Cup.