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Rapids’ midfielders rejoin national teams ahead of Concacaf’s Final Round of World Cup Qualifiers

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Two key members of the Colorado Rapids central midfield — Mark-Anthony Kaye and Kellyn Acosta — have rejoined their respective national teams ahead of three tough Concacaf matches that will be played in a matter of seven days. Acosta departed Seattle immediately after the Rapids match with the Sounders this past Sunday. He rendezvoused with the United States men’s side in Austin, Texas, while Kaye flew to meet up with the Canadian team in Mexico City.

Both players figure to be key fixtures in the midfield of their respective teams, as Concacaf kicks off the Final Round of World Cup qualifying matches this week. Eight teams are in the pool- the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador. Eleven remaining games will be played throughout the Concacaf region during a seven-month period that concludes next March. The top three teams will qualify for the FIFA World Cup play, while the fourth-place team will advance to an intercontinental playoff.

Soccer: CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifier-Canada at USA Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Acosta and Team USA face Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Panama

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) will host Jamaica tonight (October 7) in Austin’s Q2 Stadium. The Yanks will then travel south to Panama City and play Team Panama on Sunday, and return stateside to host Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio next Wednesday evening. The Burgundy Wave will be pitch-side at Lower.com Field providing coverage of this clash of longtime rivals.

The U.S is tied with Canada in in the group for second place with five points. With a record of 1W-2D-0L, the Stars and Stripes aim to sweep this three-game set starting with Jamaica. Jamaica is in last place in the standings, but should not be underestimated.

USMNT defender Mile Robinson said of the Reggae Boyz: “They’ve got some very fast players on the team. So as a center back it’s a matter of trying to lock them in and trying to put out any fires in terms of counterattacks, and just focusing for every second of the game, for the full 90 minutes-plus.”

Yanks ‘keeper Andre Blake added, “We’re a little bit short on players, but I wouldn’t use that as an excuse. We’re here and we all know what we need to do, we’re here for a job. As professionals, there’s going to be different things that are going to come up that you have to deal with, whether it’s family or whatever. You have to find a way to not let that affect you on the pitch, so that’s what we’re going to do now and we’re going to go out there and fight.”

Kellyn Acosta is expected to play a prominent role in the midfield. He has appeared in 17-straight USMNT matches, the most consecutive matches by a USMNT player since Jeff Agoos (2001-02) and Landon Donovan (2001-02). Acosta’s streak dates back to his appearance in the 6-0 win against El Salvador on December. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He will be looking for his 41st cap tonight.

The USA is 5-1-6 vs. Jamaica in World Cup qualifying and 4-0-2 at home. It’s the teams’ first meeting in WCQ since October 11, 2013, a 2-0 win for the U.S. in Kansas City, Kansas with goals from Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore.

Kaye and Team Canada face Mexico, Jamaica, and Panama

The Canadians sit comfortably in second amongst the eight competing teams. They enter this round with a record of 1W-2T-0L. In September, they drew 1-1 against Honduras, drew again 1-1 against the USA, and then won big 3-0 versus El Salvador.

Opening against first-place Mexico, at home, will be no easy task for Canada. John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team head coach said in his press conference, “The team will enjoy the match in Azteca Stadium, it’s a great arena for any footballer to play and we are looking forward to meet the Mexicans again following our recent Concacaf Gold Cup Semi-Final match. It’s a quick turnaround to play against a very talented Jamaican squad, before coming home to play Panama, and with our fans behind us, it’s a great way to finish the window.”

The 26-year-old Kaye hails from Toronto. He has made 26 appearances with Team Canada, and has started 19 times, scored twice, and has delivered seven impressive assists. Kaye will join several MLS players on the 27-man roster.

During an interview last month with the Canadian Premier League, the positive-minded Kaye stated, “We know that we need to qualify. After the Mexico game at the Gold Cup, I told John Herdman right on the field: ‘we’re going to qualify for this World Cup’. We one hundred percent believe it, and it will be a massive failure and disappointment if we don’t. We know for sure that we’re going to qualify, and it’s just game by game we’ve got to take, but it’s exciting to have that self-belief within the group.”

USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 10/0)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Atlanta United; 4/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 13/1), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; 7/0), Shaq Moore (Tenerife/ESP; 11/1), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 15/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 12/2), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 67/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 40/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 17/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 6/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED: 3/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 32/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 25/7), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 28/0)

FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 10/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 8/0), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca/ESP; 5/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 1/1), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 62/14)

How to Watch: USA vs Jamaica

Match Date/Time: October 6 at 5:30 p.m. MT

Venue: Q2 Stadium — Austin, Texas

TV Information: ESPN2, Univision, TUDN

How to Watch: Canada vs Mexico

Match Date/Time: October 6 at 7:40 p.m. MT

Venue: Estadio Azteca; Ciudad México

TV Information: OneSoccer, Paramount+