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Updated: FIFA adds match dates to CONCACAF calendar

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This will allow the Octagon to proceed, but we still don’t know the full schedule.

The Octagon is officially undergoing some changes. Today, FIFA announced changes to the international calendar that would affect the World Cup qualifying schedule for Concacaf and could ultimately switch around the road to the 2022 World Cup for the United States Men’s National Team. The changes result from the number of matches that have been postponed or rescheduled in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Among the many changes to the calendar includes the following additions of match dates to several international windows for Concacaf.

FIFA calendar changes
https://www.fifa.com/who-we-are/news/fifa-council-passes-landmark-reforms-for-female-players-and-coaches-agrees-furth?fbclid=IwAR2LP5aM5G2qFRlE-2CyzD4m6uotutL4dVqnEShQt9yOyFOdstj6ysfD_VQ

This means that, for all Concacaf teams, the September 2021, October 2021, January 2022, and March 2022 windows will now be 3 matches instead of two. Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy provided details on the scheduling format of those international windows.

These new dates will replace the 4 Octagon match dates in June 2021 that were nixed due to the postponement of the beginning of Round 1 of World Cup qualifying this fall. The June 2021 window theoretically will be needed to determine the final 3 teams that will join Mexico, the USMNT, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Honduras in the Final Stage of qualifying.

The old calendar had been set when Concacaf held its World Cup qualifying draw back in August. That old calendar was:

Window 1 (June 2021): @ A/F winner, vs. B/E winner (postponed)

Window 2 (June 2021): @ Honduras , vs. Jamaica (postponed)

Window 3 (September 2021): @ C/D winner, vs. Costa Rica

Window 4 (October 2021): vs. Mexico, @ Jamaica

Window 5 (November 2021): vs. A/F winner, @ B/E winner

Window 6 (January 2022): vs. Honduras, @ Mexico

Window 7 (March 2022): vs. C/D winner, @ Costa Rica

With the addition of the new match dates to the existing windows, it’s unclear if Concacaf intends to shift the entire calendar or plug in the postponed matches into the new match dates and otherwise keep the schedule intact. Concacaf could also completely reschedule the matches, leaving people reworking their personal calendars. The Thursday-Sunday-Wednesday format may not be set in stone either.

So, for now, here is what we have for our new calendar:

Window 1 (September 2021): 3 matches

Window 2 (October 2021): 3 matches

Window 3 (November 2021): 2 matches

Window 4 (January 2022): 3 matches

Window 5 (March 2022): 3 matches

Let’s hope for an entirely healthy player pool in 2021, because the number of matches the USMNT will have will have in a short time will certainly test their match fitness.

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UPDATE: We now know the schedule. Concacaf did the least Concacaf thing they could do: they just kept the original schedule and shifted the dates to fit within the new windows:

New Concacaf Octagon schedule

Now, here are the match windows for the USMNT:

Window 1 (September 2021): @ A/F winner, vs. B/E winner, @ Honduras

Window 2 (October 2021): vs. Jamaica, @ C/D winner, vs. Costa Rica

Window 3 (November 2021): vs. Mexico, @ Jamaica

Window 4 (January 2022): vs. A/F winner, @ B/E winner, vs. Honduras

Window 5 (March 2022): @ Mexico, vs. C/D winner, @ Costa Rica

And, to remind you of the teams that still could qualify for the Octagon:

Group A - El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands

Group B - Canada, Suriname, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Aruba

Group C - Curaçao, Guatemala, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, British Virgin Islands

Group D - Panama, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla

Group E - Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, Saint Lucia, Turks and Caicos Islands

Group F - Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Bahamas

Now, we know the windows. Now, Concacaf just needs to confirm the dates. Continue the discussion and stay tuned to this space for more updates as they come in!