CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers: Who will Join the US, Canada, and Mexico in 2026?

The 23rd FIFA World Cup in 2026 will be massive compared to previous iterations. FIFA is increasing the amount of participating teams from 32 to 48! That makes the 2026 FIFA World Cup the biggest tournament in football history. CONCACAF has the pleasure of hosting the historic tournament, and three teams will be fighting in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers.

In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, only Canada, the USMNT, Mexico, and Costa Rica represented CONCACAF in the tournament in Qatar. In 2026, Canada, USMNT, and Mexico are hosting, so they get an automatic qualification. That leaves three more automatic spots and two possible additional spots in the play-in stage before the tournament.

Here is everything you need to know about the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying

CONCACAF announced the qualifying format back in February. There will be three rounds, plus two inter-confederation play-offs. Here is the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers format:

First round

The four lowest teams in the confederation as of November 2023 will play on a home-and-away tie. After that, the lowest will meet the highest in March 2024, with the winners on aggregate score progressing to the next round.

Second round

Other 28 teams will join the qualifiers in this round. In addition, there will be six groups of five teams each, and teams will play in June 2024 and 2025. Each team will play two matches. First and second-place teams in each group advance.

Third round

The 12 teams will divide into groups of four teams each and play in a double round-robin league, with the winners getting direct World Cup spots. Two runners-up teams will then compete in the inter-confederation play-offs. These two teams will be determined by their FIFA ranking.

Top Teams to Qualify for 2026

As we’ve said throughout the article, the USMNT, Canada, and Mexico have already qualified due to their hosting duties. So that leaves at least three spots for the remaining CONCACAF teams.

There are four teams who could take those last three spots. Those teams are Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, and Suriname.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered a shoo-in for World Cup qualification. However, they are one of the most historic teams in CONCACAF after Mexico and the US. Costa Rica has not missed a World Cup since 2002. Despite having an aging squad, they have some incredible qualities in their youth ranks that can quickly help them qualify.


Jamaica are one of the most interesting teams in CONCACAF. They consistently compete with the top teams at home, but everything seems to shut down once they play away. They have a plethora of duel-international players coming into the fold and could be a dark horse in qualifying. We expect them to get one of the last spots at the 2026 World Cup.


Panama qualified for their first World Cup in 2018 after barely missing out in 2014. Their first step in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers has them in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League against Canada. If Panama can play their game to their expected levels, they can take on nearly anyone in the region.


Suriname, like Jamaica, are a team full of dual internationals who are switching allegiances to play for them. However, they have never qualified for the World Cup and have only won two games in the last two years. Despite that, with more and more players coming out to play for them, Suriname could be one of many teams in CONCACAF to qualify for the first time.

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