Major League Soccer reached its fourth international break of the 2021 season for another leg of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Four Boys in Gold were called up to represent their respective countries, including key matchups where they faced off against each other.
After three matches during this window, the national teams will be back in action for two matches from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16.
Here’s what the Boys in Gold were up to on international break:
Walker Zimmerman (USA) vs* Randall Leal (Costa Rica)*
In the final match of this World Cup Qualifying window, the U.S. came out on top over Costa Rica 2-1 at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio. After playing all 90 minutes of the previous two matches this week, Zimmerman was used as a substitute in this match, entering in the 86’ minute. This substitution came during a late attempt by Costa Rica to equalize after Leal, who came on for Los Ticos in the 67’ minute, drew a foul in a dangerous area for a set-piece. After conceding a goal in just the first minute of play, the U.S. was able to come back and solidify another three points and maintain second place in the “Ocho” standings.
Alistair Johnston (Canada) vs Aníbal Godoy (Panama)
In front of a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada came back from conceding first to defeat Panama 4-1, keeping their unbeaten status alive and jumping ahead of Panama in “Ocho” standings. Coming in high off a victory over the U.S. earlier this week, the Panamanian side, captained by Godoy who played all 90 minutes, started off hot by scoring in the first five minutes. Canada netted an equalizer in the 28’ minute and remained level with_ Los Canaleros_ until midway through the second half when they posted goals in the 66’, 71’ and 78’ minutes to seal the win. “We knew coming into this game we weren’t leaving the field without getting three,” said Johnston, who started and played all 90 minutes for the Canadians. Applauding his teammates’ resilience and the electric atmosphere created by the fans, Johnston concluded, “What a night. What a special night.”
Walker Zimmerman (USA) vs. Aníbal Godoy (Panama)
In a historic moment for Nashville SC, defender Walker Zimmerman and midfielder Aníbal Godoy captained their respective countries against each other on the international stage. Godoy earned a crucial three points for his country, scoring a goal on a set piece to give Panama a 1-0 win over the United States. Zimmerman threatened early for the U.S. with a header off of a corner kick in the fourth minute that was tapped over the crossbar by the Panama keeper. In the 54’ minute, Godoy got on the end of a corner kick and headed the ball past U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner to give Panama the lead in the second half. The victory was Panama’s first-ever win over the U.S. in World Cup Qualifying and second-ever win over the U.S. all-time. Zimmerman and the U.S. wrap up the World Cup Qualifying window on Wednesday night in Columbus against Randall Leal and Costa Rica, while Panama travels to Toronto to face Alistair Johnston and Canada.
Alistair Johnston (Canada)
At Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica, Alistair Johnston started and played all 90 minutes for Canada in the scoreless draw against the Reggae Boyz. Controlling the right flank, Johnston had several key clearances, the first of which happened in the third minute of play. In the 84’ minute, Johnston recorded a shot that sailed just high of the goal frame. With this result, Canada remains unbeaten in World Cup Qualifying play with one win and four draws. Johnston and the Canadian side return home this Wednesday night for a matchup against Godoy and Panama.
Randall Leal (Costa Rica)
Randall Leal made his first appearance of the World Cup Qualifying window, subbing on for the last 15 minutes of a 2-1 Costa Rica victory over El Salvador. \Los Ticos \are unbeaten in this window with one win and one draw and sit one point behind Canada for the fourth spot in the Concacaf World Cup Qualifying standings. Leal and Costa Rica will look to complete an unbeaten window against Zimmerman and the U.S. on Wednesday night.
Walker Zimmerman (U.S.A.)
Walker Zimmerman made his World Cup Qualifying debut on Thursday night, starting and playing all 90 minutes for the U.S. in a 2-0 win over Jamaica at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. The reigning MLS Defender of the Year earned the start alongside Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson at center back and earned a clean sheet. Zimmerman won 12 of his 13 duels and made some key plays on defense to preserve the victory. With the win, the U.S. vaulted to the top of the table in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying after four matches. The U.S. squad now travels to Panama to face Nashville SC midfielder Aníbal Godoy and Los Canaleros on Sunday night at 5 p.m. CT.
Randall Leal (Costa Rica)
Randall Leal was on the roster but did not appear for Costa Rica in a 0-0 draw at Honduras. Los Ticos’ next match is Sunday at 5:05 p.m. CT at home against El Salvador.
Alistair Johnston (Canada)
Playing his fourth match for Canada in Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers, Alistair Johnston anchored the Reds’ backline in the team’s 1-1 draw against Mexico. Johnston started and played a total of 76 minutes at Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. His most important contribution came in the 42’ minute when he made a run up the wing and dished the ball to Canadian teammate Alphonso Davies. Davies then laid off a perfect through ball to midfielder Jonathan Osorio who put it away to even the match. Canada remains unbeaten in the current World Cup Qualifying cycle and will travel to Jamaica for its next match on Sunday at 5 p.m. CT.
Aníbal Godoy (Panama)
Playing all 90 minutes of the match, Aníbal Godoy captained Panama in a 1-0 loss against El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlán Stadium in Sal Salvador. The loss snapped Panama’s four-match unbeaten run in World Cup Qualifying and places Panama and El Salvador in a tie for fourth place with both teams sitting at five points after four matches. Panama will host the United States and fellow Nashville SC teammate Zimmerman on Sunday night at 5 p.m. CT.