The decision was made to accommodate the suspension of several international windows in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CONCACAF statement. Normally, two qualifying matches are played in an international window.
Five sides — the U.S., Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, and Costa Rica — are already through to the final Octagonal phase due to their FIFA rankings. They will be joined by the three winners of the 30-nation first round of qualifying, which will be played in March and June 2021.
Four of the five subsequent windows — September 2021, October 2021, January 2022, and March 2022 — will see the final eight teams play three games apiece. Only in November 2021 will the teams play two matches.
For the U.S., the September window could include a rematch with 2018 campaign spoiler Trinidad & Tobago should the Caribbean nation advance out of the first round.
The U.S. and Mexico will go head to head in November 2021 and then again in March 2022.
The top three sides of the Octagonal will then advance to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the fourth-placed side will play an intercontinental playoff for a shot at the tournament.