The 2018 World Cup may be nearly three years away, but CONCACAF's qualifying is already well underway and taking a toll on the Seattle Sounders roster. Marco Pappa will lead Guatemala into a pair of matches against Bermuda on Friday and Monday, meaning he won't be available for Saturday's Sounders match against FC Dallas.
Pappa is Guatemala's top offensive player and one of their most experienced, claiming 10 goals and 44 caps. Four of those goals came in last year's Copa Centroamericana in which he led Guatemala to a second-place finish.
Guatemala will have its worked cut out for itself to qualify for Russia. They are joined by 19 other CONCACAF nations in the second round of World Cup qualifying and would need to play as many as 22 matches over three years before earning one of CONCACAF's three or four spots. If they advance beyond the aggregate-goal series against Bermuda, they'd enter the 12-team third round where Jamaica and Haiti are already waiting for another round of home-and-home, aggregate-goal series. The fourth round is where teams like the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica join and features three four-team groups with each team playing the other team at home and away. The fifth round is the so-called "Hex" and serves as the final round of World Cup qualifying.