Why Canada's World Cup qualifier against Mexico is a really big deal

·3 min read
Mexico's forward Uriel Antuna, left, and Canada's midfielder Alphonso Davies battle for the ball in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament in Denver, Colo., on June 19, 2019.  (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports/Reuters - image credit)
Mexico's forward Uriel Antuna, left, and Canada's midfielder Alphonso Davies battle for the ball in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament in Denver, Colo., on June 19, 2019. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports/Reuters - image credit)

The Canadian men's national soccer team hopes to take another big step toward qualifying for the 2022 World Cup when they again face higher-ranked Mexico on Tuesday night.

Soccer fans will gather at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, with kickoff scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MT (9:05 p.m. ET).

Canada has won its last two matches, with a draw before that, and now has an opportunity to ascend in the qualifying standings with another victory.

Teams are halfway through 14 qualifying matches that are part of one of FIFA's continental groupings. The World Cup tournament begins in a little over a year in Qatar.

What are the standings?

Canada is in third place in the regional World Cup qualification tournament.

The team has 13 points from seven matches — three wins, zero losses and four draws — while Mexico (4-1-2) and the United States (4-1-2) are tied for first with 14 points each.

Panama is next in the standings after Canada with 11 points.

Canada's recent wins

In their last matchup in Mexico City on Oct. 7, Canada and Mexico tied 1-1.

They'll meet again after Canada collected three points in the standings by notching a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Edmonton last Friday. With the victory, Canada stayed undefeated in World Cup qualifying.

Mexico is coming off a 2-0 loss to the United States last Friday.

WATCH | What to expect when Canada takes on Mexico:

Who qualifies for Qatar?

The top three teams out of eight competing in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) tournament will earn berths for next year's World Cup.

The fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to earn one of the final spots in the World Cup.

Canada's final three qualifying matches are in March.

The only time the Canadian men qualified for the World Cup was in 1986. Mexico, on the other hand, has qualified 16 times.

What's next for Canada?

Tuesday's game will be the final match of 2021 for Canada, but the tournament resumes in the new year with the following games:

  • Honduras (Jan. 27).

  • United States (Jan. 30).

  • El Salvador (Feb. 2).

  • Costa Rica (March 24).

  • Jamaica (March 27).

  • Panama (March 30).

Some key players to watch

Fans in Edmonton will be welcoming back their returning hometown star, Canadian attacker Alphonso Davies, 21.

Davies was born in a Ghana refugee camp to Liberian parents before moving to Edmonton at age five.

In one of the highlights of the qualification drive, he made a spectacular go-ahead goal in an eventual 4-1 win over Panama in October before exhilarated fans in Toronto. On Sunday, he received his Lou Marsh Trophy honouring Canada's best athlete.

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

He has also been a much-celebrated player with Bayern Munich, earning multiple trophies in the 2020 season.

Canadian striker Jonathan David, 21, scored in Team Canada's win over Costa Rica on Nov. 12. The goal came after Costa Rican goalkeeper Leonel Moreira fumbled a cross into the penalty area, leaving David to slot the ball home.

Jonathan Osorio scored just before halftime as Canada tied Mexico 1-1 in their game on Oct. 7. It was Canada's first at Mexico City's famed Azteca Stadium since 1980.

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