In the second legs of the CONCACAF Nations League quarter-finals this week, extra time and penalties will be used to decide the winner if need be.
How do things stand after Nations League QF first legs?
The USMNT, who are two-time Nations League winners, visit Trinidad and Tobago on Monday in the first of the last-eight deciders. Gregg Berhalter’s men are in pole position to progress, having secured a 3-0 advantage in the first leg in Austin on Thursday. Later on Monday, Panama will also be defending a 3-0 lead when they host Costa Rica in Panama City.
On Tuesday, the Nations League quarter-finals conclude when Canada bid to make good on a 2-1 first-leg win over Jamaica in Toronto, before Mexico seek to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Honduras in Mexico City.
What tiebreakers will be used in the QFs?
If the aggregate score is level at the end of normal time in the second leg, CONCACAF’s Nations League regulations state that the first tiebreaker to be used is the away-goals rule. Under this system, the team that has scored more goals in its away leg will advance from the quarter-finals.
If the aggregate score is level after and both teams scored the same amount of away goals, the second leg will head into a 30-minute period of extra time consisting of two 15-minute halves. The additional half hour will be played in full; soccer dabbled with a next-scorer-wins rule in the late 1990s and early 2000s - known as the ‘golden goal’ - but quickly abandoned the experiment.
Significantly, the away-goals rule does not apply in extra time.
If the teams cannot be separated in extra time, the winner will be decided by penalty kicks. In a shootout, both teams get five penalties each, with kicks taken alternately by each side. The team that scores the most penalties wins. If one side establishes an unassailable lead before one or both of the teams has taken all of its five penalties, the shootout ends.
If the sides remain level after five penalties each, they take additional rounds of single sudden-death spot-kicks until one scores and the other misses.
What is at stake in Nations League QFs?
The four Nations League finalists will also secure automatic qualification for next summer’s Copa América, at which CONCACAF nations have been allocated six spots. The region’s final two Copa América berths will be contested by the four losing quarter-finalists, at a play-in tournament in Frisco, Texas, next March.
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