Remember the dual-track World Cup qualification tournament that had allocated three automatic spots to the top six teams in the region and one playoff spot to the other 20 national sides? With the CONCACAF Nations League put on hold due to COVID19 pandemic and the 2022 World Cup not expected to be moved in the near future, the confederation announced a new revised FIFA World Cup qualification tournament format.
The new tournament is a three round tournament which is expected to start in October 2020 in the following format, with teams seeded based on their July 2020 FIFA rankings. All FIFA rankings at this time are given in parentheses next to the appropriate national team.
First Round: Teams ranked 6-35 are divided into 6 groups and play each other home and away. The teams ranked sixth through twelfth, according to these FIFA rankings–El Salvador (69), Canada (73), Curacao (80), Panama (81), Haiti (86), and Trinidad and Tobago (105) have already been pre-seeded into each of the six groups. Each team will play every other team once in matches that will take place during the October 2020 and November 2020 international windows. Only the six group winners advance to
Second Round: The six group winners from the first round advance to play each other in a home-and-home elimination round to decide three winners that move on to the final round and play for the 3.5 World Cup spots. These knockout ties are set to take place during the March 2021 FIFA international window and are as follows.
Group A winner vs Group F winner
Group B winner vs Group E winner
Group C winner vs Group D winner
Final Round: The three winners of the second round ties join the top five teams from the July 2020 FIFA Rankings–Mexico (11), USA (22), Costa Rica (46), Jamaica (48), Honduras (62)– to play in a double round robin single group tournament to determine the three automatic World Cup qualifiers and one inter-confederation playoff entrant. The fourteen games of the final group phase will take place during the FIFA match windows in September, October, and November 2021, as well as match windows in January and March 2022.