Los Angeles Times
The long road to Russia 2018
The attention of soccer fans from around the world will be drawn to St. Petersburg, Russia, today, when the draw for qualifying groups for the 2018 World Cup is held (8 a.m. PDT, FS1). Nations in all six of FIFA’s federations will discover the path their teams must take to get to the finals. For 27 of CONCACAF’s 35 teams, however, qualifying has already begun. While the federation’s six teams rated highest in the August 2014 FIFA rankings (Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago) automatically advanced to the fourth round, the region’s lesser lights have been pared down in two rounds of home-and-away, aggregate-scoring series:
ROUND 1: MARCH 2015
Barbados 4, U.S. Virgin Islands 1 Nicaragua 8, Anguilla 0 St. Kitts and Nevis 12, Turks and Caicos Islands 4 Bermuda 8, Bahamas 0 Belize 1, Cayman Islands 1 (Belize advances on away goals) Dominica 3, British Virgin Islands 2 Curacao 4, Montserrat 3
ROUND 2: JUNE 2015
Nicaragua 4, Suriname 0 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6, Guyana 6 (St. Vincent advances on away goals) Antigua and Barbuda 5, St. Lucia 4 Curacao 1, Cuba 1 (Curacao advances on away goals) Aruba 3, Barbados 2 Belize 5, Dominican Republic 1 Canada 6, Dominica 0 El Salvador 6, St. Kitts and Nevis 3 Grenada 2, Puerto Rico 1 Guatemala 1, Bermuda 0
ROUND 3: AUG. 31-SEPT. 8
The 10 second-round winners will join Gold Cup finalist Jamaica and Haiti for another round of home-and-away series. The six highest-seeded of the 12 teams will be placed in Pot 3 and will be drawn today against the remaining six teams, from Pot 4, with the series numbered 1-6: Pot 3: Jamaica, Haiti, Canada, Aruba, El Salvador, Guatemala. Pot 4: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Nicaragua, Curacao.
ROUND 4: NOV. 7, 2015-SEPT. 6, 2016
The 12 teams remaining will be drawn into three four-team groups, which will play a home-and-away round-robin schedule, with the top two teams in each group moving on to the fifth round. The winners of the Round 3 series will be automatically allocated: winners of series 1 and 2 will play in Group A, with series 3 and 4 winners in Group B and series 5 and 6 winners in Group C. The region’s top three seeded teams (Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States) will be placed in Pot 1, with the other three teams (Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago) in Pot 2. The three teams in Pot 2 will then be drawn today into Groups A, B and C, followed by the teams in Pot 1.
ROUND 5: NOV. 7, 2016-OCT. 10, 2017
The six teams advancing from Round 4 will play a home-and-away round-robin schedule, with the top three teams advancing to the finals in Russia. The fourth-place team will meet an opponent from a region to be determined in a home-and-away Intercontinental Playoff, with the winner advancing to the finals.