Octagonal: Concacaf field set for World Cup 2022 qualifying

The USA will open the final round of World Cup 2022 qualifying at El Salvador, coached by former U.S. star Hugo Perez, and then host Canada, its neighbor to the north, in the first two games.

Panama joined El Salvador and Canada in qualifying for the Octagonal, where they will meet up with the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica, which qualified for the 14-game final round as Concacaf's top five seeds.

The top three teams will go to Qatar; the fourth-place team will head to the intercontinental playoffs in June 2022.

Tuesday, June 15
El Salvador
2 St. Kitts & Nevis 0. (Goals: Perez 24, Mayen 87.)
(El Salvador wins 6-0 on aggregate.)
Canada 3 Haiti 0. (Goals: Own goal 45, Larin 74, Hoilett 89.)
(Canada wins 4-0 on aggregate.)
Curacao 0 Panama 0.
(Panama wins 2-1 on aggregate.)

El Salvador. Perez was named the head coach in late April after coaching El Salvador in the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament in March. The Hall of Famer replaced Mexican Carlos de los Cobos, who had been in charge of La Selecta since 2018.

Both goals in El Salvador's 2-0 win over St. Kitts & Nevis on Tuesday were scored by former U.S. youth internationals: Josh Perez, his nephew, and Gerson Mayen.
Eriq Zavaleta completes a trio of Salvadoran starters who represented the USA in youth world championships and filed switches of association to play for El Salvador.

Starting XI:
Mario Gonzalez
, Alianza
Bryan Tamacas, Alianza
Eriq Zavaleta, Toronto FC
Ronald Rodriguez, Aguila
Alexander Larin, Xelaju (Guatemala)
Melvin Cartagena, Once Deportivo
Darwin Ceren, Houston Dynamo
Marvin Monterrosa, Alianza
Joaquin Rivas, FC Tulsa
Joshua Perez, Ibiza (Spain)
David Rugamas, Once Deportivo

Key Reserves:
Roberto Dominguez, Partizani (Albania)
Alexis Renderos, Sonsonate
Romulo Villalobos, Municipal Limeno
Gerson Mayen, Aguila
Nelson Bonilla, Port (Thailand)
Juan Carlos Portillo, Alianza
Isaac Portillo, Alianza
Miguel Lemus, Chalatenango
Jairo Henriquez, Chalatenango
Walmer Martinez, Hartford Athletic

Canada. Canada beat up on weaker Concacaf opponents by a margin of 31-1 to win all six games and reach the final round of qualifying for the first time since 1997.

Canada clinched its second-round series with Haiti with a 3-0 win on Tuesday. The match was scoreless until the end of the first half Montreal-born goalkeeper Josue Duverger made one of the worst blunders a goalkeeper has ever made in a competitive match. He missed a routine backpass from his teammate, Kevin LaFrance, on his first touch, then scuffed the ball on his second attempt and watched it trickle into the goal.

Canada features two of the best young players in Concacaf in Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies, considered the best left back in the world, and
Brooklyn-born forward Jonathan David, who helped Lille win the 2021 Ligue 1 title.

Starting XI:
Milan Borjan
, Red Star (Serbia)
Scott Kennedy, Jahn Regensburg (Germany)
Steven Vitoria, Moreirense (Portugal)
Doneil Henry, Suwon Samsung Bluewings (South Korea)
Alistair Johnston, Nashville SC
Stephen Eustaquio, Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal)
Mark-Anthony Kaye, LAFC
Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC
Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany)
Cyle Larin, Besiktas (Turkey)
Jonathan David, Lille (France)

Key Reserves:

Sam Adekugbe, Valerenga (Norway)
Richie Laryea,Toronto FC
Samuel Piette, CF Montreal
David Wotherspoon, St. Johnstone
Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps
Junior Hoilett, Cardiff City (Wales)
Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution

Panama. Panama held Curacao to a 0-0 tie on the road to advance 2-1 on aggregate. The Canaleros were the only lower seed win its second-round series.

Thomas Christiansen, who was born in Denmark and played internationally for Spain, took over Panama's rebuilding effort last summer. The Canaleros are 7-2-2 since resuming play last October. One of the defeats was a 6-2 loss to the USA in Austria last November.

Panama is the only one of the three second-round winners that played at the 2018 World Cup. It took an aging team to Russia, and many of the players familiar to MLS fans on that team have retired: Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez and Luis Tejada

Starting XI:

Luis Mejia, Fenix (Uruguay)
Andres Andrade, LASK Linz (Austria)
Harold Cummings, Always Ready (Bolivia)
Eric Davis, FC DAC (Slovakia)
Michael Murillo, Anderlecht (Belgium)
Adalberto Carrasquilla, Cartagena (Spain)
Aníbal Godoy, Nashville SC
Alberto Quintero, Universitario (Peru)
Jose Luis Rodriguez, Lugo (Spain)
Edgar Barcenas, Girona (Spain)
Gabriel Torres, UNAM (Mexico)

Key Reserves:

Jose Fajardo, 9 de Octubre (Ecuador)
Abdiel Ayarza, Cienciano (Peru)
Cecilio Waterman, Everton (Chile)
Armando Cooper, Maccabi Petah Tikva (Israel)
Víctor Griffith, Arabe Unido
Cesar Yanis, Costa del Este
Adolfo Machado, San Carlos (Costa Rica)

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