The Concacaf 2022 World Cup qualifying schedule is once again in flux. The coronavirus pandemic has caused the confederation to postpone the upcoming opening round of qualifying until March.
Sports Illustrated reports that the delay will cause the final round of the competition — an eight-team stage that will feature the United States men’s national team — to be pushed back until after the 2021 Gold Cup.
“Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision,” Concacaf said in a released statement. “Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult.”
The final stage (a.k.a. The Ocho) will now tentatively begin during the August 30-September 7 FIFA international window, according to SI.
While this is unfortunate news, it’s perhaps not such a bad thing for the USMNT, who haven’t played together as a full group in almost a year. Having several friendly windows and a full competition this coming summer to prepare and gain chemistry before the all-important qualifiers begin can only help this inexperienced but talented group at this point.