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Canada Set to Begin CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying

The Vancouver Whitecaps are off this week, but that doesn’t mean that the players will be getting a vacation. Seven have been called up to their respective national teams, including four for Canada. We review the call-ups and introduce you to the new Nations League.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Seven Vancouver Whitecaps players were called up to their national team for the September International Break. Kendall Waston will make his regular appearances with Costa Rica on September 7th, versus Korea, and September 11th, versus Japan. Hopefully he will get an opportunity to play more than he did in the World Cup.

The Africa Cup of Nations qualification will have two Whitecaps representatives this month. First, Aly Ghazal will make his return to the Egyptian squad, to face Niger on Matchday 2 (September 8th) in Group J. Ghazal has not played with the nation since the 2014.

Second, Kei Kamara will be suiting up for Sierra Leone in Group F, for their September 9th match against Ethiopia. Although it will be a shorter break between appearances, than for Ghazal, this will only be the second time in two years that Kamara has been called-up.

Canada will have four Whitecaps on their squad -Alphonso Davies, Marcel de Jong, Doneil Henry, and Russell Teibert- when they begin play in the new Nations League qualifying on September 9th against the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What is the Nations League?

The Nations League is CONCACAF’s attempt to strengthen the region by ensuring that smaller countries have regular matches that mean something. It will also serve as the qualifying process for the Gold Cup. The six teams that played in the hexagonal for the 2018 World Cup qualifying will automatically be placed into the League, while the remaining 34 nations will play four matches between September 6th, 2018 and March 26th, 2019, to determine which additional six nations will join the hexagonal group of Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras. These 12 nations will play in League A, while the next 16 teams will play in League B, and the final 12 teams will play in League C.

Each League will be divided into four sub-groups, of three teams, and will feature promotion and relegation. The four sub-group winners will qualify for the Nations League championship, to be played in March 2020, while the four last-place teams will be relegated to League B.

Qualifying for Canada

Canada will begin their qualification September 9th, against U.S. Virgin Islands. They will then play Dominica on October 16th, Saint Kitts and Nevis November 18th, and French Guiana on March 26th, 2019.

Ranked second, behind Jamaica, Canada should qualify for the Nations League. With how the nation has been progressing, it would be a huge upset were they not to qualify.

This will be John Herdman’s opportunity to show that he can translate his success with the Women’s team to the Men’s game. Despite the match being against the diminutive Virgin Islands, Herdman has put forth a strong squad. In addition to the four Whitecaps players, David Wotherspoon, Cyle Larin, Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Lucas Cavallini, Jonathan Osorio, and many more have been brought into the squad.

What are your thoughts on the Nations League? Do you think it will be beneficial? Are you excited for having games actually mean something during the international break?