Alistair Johnston photo courtesy Nashville SC
The United States doesn’t have to participate in the first round of Concacaf 2022 World Cup qualifying, but that doesn’t mean Nashville SC will be left out. Canadian right back Alistair Johnston has been selected to the Canucks’ squad for contests against Aruba and Suriname in the next two weeks.
Canada currently leads Group B after defeating Bermuda 5-1 and the Cayman Islands 11-0 in the March window, and the NSC defender made his first two senior appearances for his country. Johnston entered the Bermuda match as a nice 69th-minute substitute for Richie Laryea when his team led 4-1. The substitution went the other direction against Cayman Islands, with Johnston making way for Laryea in the 68th minute – but not until after he scored his first goal wearing the Maple Leaf crest.
Wins against Aruba (June 5 in Bradenton, Fla.) and Suriname (June 8 in Chicagoland) would see the Canadians through to the second round of qualifying. A loss to Suriname – tied at the top of the table on six points through two matches, but behind on goal differential (which would ultimately be irrelevant if the head-to-head game provides a clear winner) – would see the Canucks fail to advance, and miss the World Cup for the ninth-straight cycle. Winning Group B would see a two-legged match against the Group E winner to close out the international break June 12 and 15.
The U.S. (Walker Zimmerman/Dan Lovitz) and Costa Rica (Randall Leal) do not join qualifying until the third round in September. Those teams will instead participate in the final round of Nations League qualifying next week, though only Leal has been called up for that competition.
Aníbal Godoy has not been officially called for Panama’s first-round matches against Anguilla and Dominican Republic, but FepaFut is announcing those call-ups as club teams enter their International Window pauses, so there’s still a possibility the veteran will head to Panama City for those two contests.