The United States men’s national team’s World Cup qualifying campaign has been delayed once again due to the coronavirus pandemic. After seeing the start of CONCACAF qualifying was initially pushed from 2020 to the summer of 2021 before the Gold Cup, it will now begin for the U.S. after the Gold Cup, CONCACAF announced on Tuesday. 

Qualifying for lower-ranked teams was set to begin this October or November, but those games have been pushed back to March of next year. As a result, the matches before the Gold Cup also need to be pushed back. The expectation would be for games to begin in September for the U.S. 

Last month, the U.S. had learned its schedule for qualifying, though various opponents are yet to be determined. The first two games were set to be in June. That all changes now a bit due to the shift in the timeline for qualifying.

“These are extraordinary times, and we all need to continue to adjust,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said on the team’s website. “We have established a strong foundation in our group and we will deal with whatever comes our way. We look forward to receiving the updated schedule so we can plan accordingly.”

With the format going from a hexagonal (six teams) to octagonal (eight teams) due to the shortened window of qualifying, it’s going to be a unique, strange qualifying format that we haven’t seen before. More teams will make the final fight for the spots to advance to Qatar in 2022. 

The United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

The top three teams in the final octagonal standing qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-place team plays in a playoff against another team from another region.

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