Under the newest proposed CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying format, recently presented to FIFA and awaiting approval in May, the United States would enter in the semifinals along with Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras and Cuba. Those six teams -- the region's six highest in FIFA's March rankings -- would be joined by the winners of the six quarterfinal groups and would be split into three four-team groups. The semifinals would begin in June 2012.
The top two teams from each of those groups would then advance to a final six-team group where the top three teams would earn automatic berths in the World Cup and the fourth-place team would participate in a playoff for a chance to qualify. The final round of qualifying would be played from February to October of 2013. This new proposal would be quite similar to the previously scrapped "Hexagonal," but would require top teams to play two fewer qualifying matches.
CONCACAF had previously planned a significantly different qualifying format that would have featured two final groups of four teams, but that was under the assumption they would have four automatic World Cup berths. That format was criticized largely because top teams -- such as the U.S. and Mexico -- would be unlikely to meet in qualifying.
CONCACAF 2014 World Cup Qualifying Proposal
Teams Entering Preliminary Round: Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands
Teams Entering First Round: Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent, Suriname Trinidad & Tobago
Teams Entering Semifinal Round: Costa Rica, Cuba. Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, United States