How will the Union manage World Cup qualifiers?

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Two simultaneous challenges face the Philadelphia Union as it addresses its MLS regular season games between now and their second leg in the Concacaf Champions League on September 15.

The challenges compound each other.

  • Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott would each be suspended for the game following receipt of their next yellow cards, and neither seems within immediate reach of having any rescinded for good behavior.
  • Qualification for the 2022 World Cup resumes in all confederations simultaneously September 1. Some will play an extra game in either or both the September and/or October windows to make up postponements. Match squad size remains 23, but squad make-up may change from match to match to accommodate three matches in eight days, so extra players may be called into national camps. And they may be exhausted when returning to their clubs.

Neither Glesnes nor Elliott has missed a 2021 minute, in either the MLS regular season or the Concacaf Champions League. The challenge their yellow card situations pose needs no further comment.

World Cup qualifier absences do.


As many as five of the Union’s 11 starters and two “first subs” off the bench may be called up to play for their national sides.

  • Andre Blake, Union goalkeeper, Jamaica’s captain. He was last called up as a starter in July’s Concacaf Gold Cup.
  • Jamiro Monteiro, Union central midfielder, Cape Verde Islands. He was last called up in March’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations second round qualifiers, as a starter.
  • Olivier Mbaizo, Union right back, Cameroon. Like Monteiro, he was last called up for March’s Africa Cup of Nations as a starter.
  • Alvas Powell, Union reserve right back, Jamaica. He was last called up for July’s Concacaf Gold Cup, as a starter.
  • Jose Martinez, Union defensive center midfielder, Venezuela. He was last called up for CONMEBOL’s June Copa America, as a starter.
  • Daniel Gazdag, Union attacking center midfielder, Hungary. He was last called up for June’s UEFA Euro 2020. He was a reserve, but he started and scored against Andorra last March in a World Cup qualifier, and Hungary play Andorra September 8. Hungary announced today that Gazdag is in their squad for the September qualifiers.
  • Cory Burke, Union reserve striker, Jamaica. He was last called up for July’s Concacaf Gold Cup, as a starter.
Date Opponent Absent Union Adjustment(s)
Sa, Aug 28 @ D. C Gazdag; Blake, Monteiro, Burke, Powell; Mbaizo; Martinez; Formation change?
Fr, Sep 3 v New England Gazdag, Blake, Monteiro, Burke, Powell, , Mbaizo, Martinez Formation change?
Sa, Oct 9 @ Cincinnati Gazdag, Blake, Monteiro, Burke, Powell, Mbaizo, Martinez Formation change?
Sa, Oct 16 @ Montreal Martinez Possibly Jesus Bueno? / Formation change?

The 3-4-2-1 revealed against New England 8/8 in Foxborough might be how the Union would best cope with the absences. It was L-R: Freese; Findlay, Elliott, Glesnes; Wagner, McGlynn, Flach, Bedoya; Aaronson, Sullivan; Przybylko

 Appendix: Each player’s absence charted in detail

Two assumptions underly the charts.

There will be no virus-related travel glitches. Avoiding glitches requires:

  1. proving one’s continuous presence in a continuously virus-free environment, and
  2. gaining acceptance of that proof by local travel authorities.

(Earlier this year, some Jamaican players travelling from Great Britain to Japan via Amsterdam did not achieve acceptance of their proof, they had to return to London to try again, and a match in Japan had to be cancelled.)

And CONMEBOL may add the third match in October in the same fashion they have already added one in September, but the guess is unofficial. Were it turn out correct, Jose Martinez would very likely miss a fourth game, Saturday, October 16th, away to Montreal as noted above.

Here are each individual’s details, both known and estimated.


Union matches missed Travel estimates UEFA Euro 2020 schedule
Dep: 22-Aug, Su World Cup Quals schedule
28-Aug, Sa @ D. C United 2-Sep, Th vs England
3-Sep, Fr vs New England 5-Sep, Su @ Albania
8-Sep, We vs Andorra
Arr: 9-Sep, Th
Dep: 3-Oct, Su
9-Oct, Sa @ Cincinnati 9-Oct, Sa vs Albania
12-Oct, Tu @ England
Arr: 13-Oct, We



Union matches missed Travel Estimates Jamaica Gold Cup matches
Dep: 22-Aug, Mo Concacaf World Cup Quals
28 Aug, Sa vs D. C. 2-Sep, Th @ Mexico
 3-Sep, Fr  vs New England 5-Sep, Su vs Panama
8-Sep, We @ Costa Rica
Arr: 9-Sep, Th
Dep: 3-Oct,
9-Oct, Sa @ Cincinnati 7-Oct, Th @ U. S. of A.
10-Oct, Su vs Canada
13-Oct, We @ Honduras
Arr:14-Oct, Th



Union games missed Travel estimates CAF World Cup Quals
Dep: 22-Aug, Mo
28 Aug, Sa vs D. C. 3-Sep, vs Malawi
3-Sep, Fr vs New England 6-Sep, @ Ivory Coast
Arr: 7-Sep, Tu
Dep: 3-Oct, Su
9-Oct, Sa @ Cincinnati 6/9-Oct, vs Mozambique
10/12-Oct, @ Mozambique
Arr:13-Oct, We


JAMIRO MONTEIRO (Cape Verde Is;ands, CAF)

Union games missed Travel estimates CAF World Cup Quals
Dep: 22-Aug, Su
28 Aug, Sa vs D. C. 1-Sep, We vs Cent Afric Rep
3-Sep, Fr vs New England 7-Sep, Tu vs Nigeria
Arr: 8-Sep, We
Dep: 3-Oct, Su
9-Oct, Sa @ Cincinnati 6/9-Oct, vs Liberia
10/12-Oct, @ Liberia
Arr:13-Oct, We



Union  games missed Travel estimates CONMEBOL World Cup Qual
Dep: 22-Aug, Su
28-Aug, Sa @ D. C. United 2-Sep, Th vs Argentina
3-Sep, We vs New England 5-Sep, Su @ Peru
9-Sep, Th @ Paraguay
Arr: 10-Sep, Fr
Dep:4-Oct, Mo
 9-Oct, Sa  @ Cincinnati 7-Oct, Th vs Brazil
?? 10-Oct, Su vs Ecuador
 16-Oct, Sa  @ Montreal ?? 14-Oct, Th vs Chile
Arr: 15-Oct, Fr

The WC qualifier data is drawn from Wikipedia’s series of articles titled “2022 FIFA World Cup qualification [Confederation acronym]” as consulted on Sunday, August 22, 2021. Other Wikipedia sources contradict some of its specifics.


  1. Vince Devine says:

    Are you saying that if Jack and/or Jakob receive a yellow in MLS play they could be suspended for the CCL March? That’s incorrect, they’re separate competitions.

    • I think he’s worried that either or both will get a yellow in DC Saturday and have to miss the New England match where Powell and Mbaizo will likely be missing from the defense as well.

      • If they are in a three center-back formation, Aurelien Collin is the fourth center back. He is savvy, but vulnerable to pace.
        Powell and Mbaizo being away simultaneously mean either a formation change to three center backs with two wing backs, or Nate Harriel gets his first start, or Matt Real plays on the right side.
        I thought the 3-4-2-1 did well against the best team in the conference earlier, within the offensive parameters described so well recently by Jeremy Lane.
        But the defense’s depth would be severely depleted were Glesnes, Elliott, or both to get yellows with Mbaizo and Powell both away.

  2. Unless something really unusual happens, I don’t think the Union should be missing anyone from Saturday’s game at DC. The international window doesn’t normally open until after the weekend games are done and if the Union are going to lose players, then the same thing would be happening with teams all over the world and I haven’t heard anything about that. There is some worry about the Montreal game, not because of actual play but because of COVID testing.
    I know the Union won’t do it, but I’d be curious as to what would happen if they follow Liverpool’s lead in refusing to release Mo Salah to Egypt due to quarantine requirements meaning he would miss additional games.
    The two games where the Union will likely be missing players (New England and Cincinnati) were both rescheduled due to conflicts with CCL semifinals.

  3. Do we finally get a chance to see Nathaniel Harris?

  4. The reason I fear early departures is three internationals in 8 days with the first ones scheduled for September 1st or 2nd. See detailed charts in the Appendix.
    Five of the six would start play the first or the second of September. The sixth would start play September 3rd. Leaving after the 28th seems quite a short time to travel and practice.
    If I am the national coach involved I want them in camp sooner than that.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The coach may want them but I doubt if they are going to get them. The Union play Saturday but there are 3 EPL games on Sunday. Do we think any of those teams will be willing to release players early, even if they have a national team game on Wednesday?

  5. In Tanner We Trust says:

    So does this mean Martinez or anyone else could miss the semis 2nd leg? If that’s the case, Concacaf is even dumber than we thought for making that scheduling error.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I think that would only be the case if someone tests positive for COVID and has to quarantine. The last day of the international window is a week before the semis.

  6. Further digging on Glesnes and Elliott’s yellow cards:
    Each has five MLS yellows and each has had one forgiven.
    Each has two more opportunities to have one forgiven, since there are a total of three such availabilities during a regular season.
    I have not checked the Concacaf rules. The MLS rules as available to the general public strongly imply that MLS yellows do not affect CCL eligibility. They overtly state that MLS Regular Season yellows do not affect eligibility for national team matches in national team competitions.

  7. Im worried about competition. Too many days without a game before de CCL game. We should play a friendly game this weekend.

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