U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter said on Wednesday his squad looks forward to the challenges presented by the team’s 2022 World Cup qualifying draw, which could involve a chance for redemption against Trinidad and Tobago.
The Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after suffering a devastating 2-1 loss to the Soca Warriors but could have another shot at them in the opening match of the eight-team final round in June 2021.
“Certainly the potential to play Trinidad in the first game away from home is a nice storyline but we’re focused on things much bigger than that game,” Berhalter told reporters on a call.
The U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico automatically qualified for the final round because they are the top five CONCACAF teams.
The three remaining teams will be determined through two preliminary rounds of qualifying, which will run from October 2020 to March 2021.
The top three teams will automatically qualify for the World Cup while the fourth place team will go into a playoff.
Trinidad and Tobago are the top seeds in Group F and would face the U.S. if they win their group and the playoff against the winners of Group A.
“It’s an interesting one if Trinidad makes it through their group and wins that A-F playoff,” U.S. defender Tim Ream said.
“There’s a little bit of a revenge factor right from the get-go.”
A big factor in whether the U.S. can make it back onto the sport’s biggest stage will be the health of Christian Pulisic.
The 21-year-old Pennsylvania native plays for Premier League side Chelsea but has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.
“I talked to Christian today,” Berhalter said.
“He’s doing well. The leg is doing really well. It’s recovering, it’s healing.
“We have a lot of confidence in Chelsea and their medical staff … we’re excited to see how he comes back.” (Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Ed Osmond)