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Canada´s soccer men face tougher road to World Cup with expected drop in rankings

It looks like Canada will slip out of the top six in CONCACAF when the new FIFA rankings come out later this month.

That means the Canadian men will have to maximize points from international windows in March and June and hope El Salvador stumbles in order to return to the top six, and gain a berth in the Hex, the most direct World Cup qualifying route in the region.

Canada moved up six spots to No. 69 — good for sixth spot in CONCACAF — after a historic 2-0 victory over the U.S. on Oct. 15 in Toronto. But the 23rd-ranked Americans rallied for a 4-1 victory in the Nov. 15 rematch in Orlando, then won League A Group A by beating No. 179 Cuba 4-0 on Tuesday.

While the Canadians stumbled, No. 73 El Salvador blanked the 153rd-ranked Dominican Republic 2-0 and No. 189 Montserrat 1-0 — thanks to a 91st-minute goal — over the past week to win League B Group B. It was El Salvador’s fifth victory in six CONCACAF Nations League outings.

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Current Canada Soccer calculations have El Salvador vaulting over Canada to sixth spot in the region with 1,346 points and Canada dropping to seventh with 1,331. While the gap is just 15 points, it will likely be hard to bridge.

Honduras stands fifth (1,371 points). Curacao is eighth (1,318) followed by Panama (1,304) and Haiti (1,285). The next rankings are due out Nov. 28.

The top six in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, in the June rankings will qualify for the Hex round of World Cup qualifying.

From that, three teams will book their ticket to Qatar in 2022.

Teams ranked seven through 35th in the region will have to slog it out in a different qualifying bracket with the last team standing moving on to face the fourth-placed Hex team to determine who advances to an intercontinental World Cup qualifying playoff.

“We’ve got to be optimistic … We’ve left it to the gods, the football gods, to some degree,” Canada coach John Herdman said after the U.S. loss earlier this month. “But we’re going to keep pushing at it and I think our luck’s going to come our way. It’ll come for Canada. We’re going to have to make our luck maybe in the March FIFA window and then in the June window. I mean that’s reality, to pick up the FIFA rankings points.”

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