China vs. Japan
Tuesday, 11 a.m. (Paramount+)
CBS recently bought the rights to Asia’s World Cup qualifiers for Paramount+. This matchup is, not surprisingly, a rivalry in soccer just like it is in other things. Japan’s squad has a number of players who made moves in Europe this summer: Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Mallorca’s Takefusa Kubo, and Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi.
Cape Verde vs. Nigeria
Tuesday, noon (ESPN+)
After a 1-1 tie at the Central African Republic last Wednesday, Jamiro Monteiro and Cape Verde host one of Africa’s traditional powers. Nigeria features veteran forwards Victor Osimhen, Ahmed Musa, and Paul Onuachu — a teammate of Mark McKenzie’s at Genk in Belgium.
The Super Eagles’ roster also has a number of big-time players from English clubs who won’t be allowed to play in this game because of British government pandemic travel restrictions. Those names include Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Everton’s Alex Iwobi.
France vs. Finland
Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN2, TUDN)
France is atop its World Cup qualifying group, but the points column of the standings doesn’t tell the whole story. The reigning World Cup champions have played five games, while second-place Finland has played three. France has tied its last two qualifying games, at home against Bosnia and on the road against Ukraine.
And to make matters worse, superstar Kylian Mbappé is sidelined with a calf injury. So don’t be surprised if the atmosphere at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium is a bit nervy.
» READ MORE: More World Cup qualifying games to watch this week
Canada vs. El Salvador
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)
Canada is flying high after coming from behind to tie the United States, 1-1, in Nashville. Now Alphonso Davies and company return home, where they would give themselves an even bigger boost with their first win of the Octagonal. But let’s see how much Davies plays after he suffered an injury late in Sunday’s game. If he’s rested, Jonathan David will be called on to lead the attack.
El Salvador played Honduras to a scoreless tie in San Salvador after playing the U.S. to the same score. This will be La Selecta’s first road game of the round, and it will be interesting to see how they play.
UPDATE: Davies won’t play because of that injury. He’s headed back to Munich.
Costa Rica vs. Jamaica
Wednesday, 9 p.m. (Paramount+, TelemundoDeportes.com)
The most shocking result in Concacaf on Sunday was Jamaica’s 3-0 loss at home to Panama. Jamaica had its Britain-based stars available, but the attacking firepower of Ravel Morrison, Kemar Roofe and Michail Antonio failed to score — and clearly didn’t play much defense.
Costa Rica lost at home, 1-0, to Mexico on a penalty kick late in the first half. That’s now two straight blanks fired by the Ticos after a scoreless tie in Panama City to start the round. So both these teams are under pressure to win, and Costa Rica will be favored playing at home.
Panama vs. Mexico
Wednesday, 8 p.m. (Telemundo 62, Universo, Paramount+)
Mexico hasn’t looked great so far, but is the only team in the Octagonal with two wins in two games. Now El Tri visits a Panama team that would take over first place with a win. That would be an upset, but let’s see how big a punch the home team can throw at the star-studded visitors.
Note that the start time of this game was moved to 8 p.m. in the days before kickoff. It had originally been scheduled to start at 9 p.m.
Honduras vs. United States
Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. (Telemundo 62, Universo, Paramount+)
Let’s get this out of the way first: The game isn’t on TV in English because CBS chose to put it exclusively on its subscription streaming platform. If there was really so much anger over that out there, CBS would have let us know by now.
As for the game, the alarm bells ringing around American soccer are fully justified. On top of two ties that could have been wins, Weston McKennie was sent back to Italy for breaking COVID-19 protocols, an outrageously selfish decision by a player who’s supposed to be one of the team’s leaders. Sergiño Dest has played poorly, and is now injured and won’t be in this game. Gio Reyna is out injured, too, and Downingtown’s Zack Steffen has COVID-19.
But manager Gregg Berhalter gets a whole lot of blame from here. He waited far too long to make substitutions after Canada’s equalizer, so the incoming attackers didn’t have enough time to make an impact. If the U.S. doesn’t win this game, there will be loud calls for his firing, from mainstream media as much as from fans.
And there’s a real possibility the U.S. won’t win. Honduras has ties at Canada and El Salvador so far, and will now play its first home game of the Octagonal. San Pedro Sula’s Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano is always a hostile venue, and the U.S. hasn’t won there since 2009.
Berhalter called in San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill to replace McKennie. But that might not help an attacking corps that’s scored just once in two games so far.
If the Americans beat Honduras, they could be as high as second in the standings on Thursday morning. If they lose, they could be as low as seventh. The stakes are that big, and they won’t get smaller any time soon.