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Concacaf WCQ Preview: Mexico hosts El Salvador, Canada visits Panama, and more


The final matchday of Concacaf World Cup qualifying will feature three teams vying for the final two automatic berths into the World Cup, with Mexico hoping to join the U.S. men’s national team in keeping hold of their spots in Concacaf’s top three, ahead of Costa Rica.

Mexico can secure its place in the World Cup with a win or draw, but could open the door for a slide down to fourth place with a loss and a Costa Rica win that combine to erase the current three-goal advantage El Tri has over the Ticos in goal difference. Tata Martino’s side grinded out a 1-0 win over Honduras on Sunday and will look to claim a ninth straight victory over El Salvador in all competitions.

Canada’s ticket to Qatar is already booked and now John Herdman’s side will aim to reach the 30-point plateau and secure first place in the Octagonal with a road win over Panama, which is already eliminated from World Cup qualifying. The Canadians qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 with its 4-0 win over Jamaica on Sunday. John Herdman’s squad pummeled Panama, 4-1, back in October, but Herdman could choose to give some younger players an opportunity in the final match of the cycle.

Jamaica faces off with Honduras on Wednesday in what both nations will hope for is a positive ending to a humiliating octagonal round. The Reggae Boyz have only earned one win in qualifying, which was a 2-0 road triumph over Honduras back in October. Several young faces could be used to provide Paul Hall a glimpse of the future with Tarick Ximines and Lamar Walker among them. Honduras has lost nine of its 13 qualifiers in the octagonal round, but will playing for pride to help spark what fans hope is a quick turnaround.

Here is a closer look at Wednesday’s Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers:

Mexico vs. El Salvador

9:05 P.M. ET, Paramount +, Universo, TUDN

Mexico is a heavy favorite to secure a World Cup berth and will now hope to give the home supporters plenty to cheer about against El Salvador.

El Tri have faced ups-and-downs throughout the octagonal round, but looks to have righted the ship after a rocky end to 2021. Victories over Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras have eased pressure on head coach Tata Martino and extended El Tri’s unbeaten run to five matches in qualifying. Four different players have contributed goals during that span, with Raul Jimenez and Henry Martin both pushing to start in attack.

El Salvador will be eyeing an upset at Estadio Azteca to give the current group of players a jolt of confidence before returning to their clubs.

Panama vs. Canada

9:05 P.M. ET, Paramount +, Universo

Canada may have already clinched a second-ever World Cup berth, but John Herdman’s side will be pushing to finish the octagonal in first place.

The Canadians have won four of their last five qualifiers including a 4-0 romp over Jamaica on Sunday. Cyle Larin and Tajon Buchanan both scored on Sunday while Milan Borjan registered a one-save shutout. With qualification already clinched, Herdman could give some reserves a starting nod including Ike Ugbo, Liam Millar, and Ismael Kone.

Panama’s dreams of returning to the World Cup came to a halt on Sunday after a 5-1 defeat to the USMNT. Thomas Christiansen has done an impressive job regardless with this squad and will be hoping his players can give the home fans one final victory in the octagonal round. Five different players have scored goals in Panama’s last four matches with Anibal Godoy and Rolando Blackburn two of the key starters.

Jamaica vs. Honduras

9:05 P.M. ET, Paramount +

Jamaica and Honduras will only have pride to play for in Kingston on Wednesday night with both teams pushing for a win to close their competitive schedules.

Paul Hall’s side have not won at home through the octagonal, but know a win over Honduras will complete the double over the Catrachos. Jamaica has struggled keeping the ball out of their own net, conceding 11 goals over its last five qualifying matches. Tarick Ximinies, 17, is a promising talent within the national team ranks and could earn his first start after debuting in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Canada.

Honduras has been atrocious during the octagonal round, earning only four points through 13 matches and registering a -18 goal differential. Not much as gone right for the Catrachos and even if they do win in Kingston on Wednesday, still won’t finish above eighth place. Romell Quioto and Bryan Acosta headline the MLS contingent in Hernan Gomez’s roster.

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