Just six months after being eliminated from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the U.S. men’s national soccer team learned Monday that the qualifying path to the 2018 tournament in Russia will begin late this year.

So much for a World Cup lull.

CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, outlined the timetable for 35 countries vying for three automatic berths and a playoff spot.

The schedule will begin this March — less than a year after the 2014 tournament ended. The opening round involves the 14 lowest-ranked teams, such as Belize, Bermuda and Bahamas.

Jurgen Klinsmann‘s U.S. squad, along with Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, will not enter until this November when the field is pared to 12 teams.

The volume remains the same for the Americans and the other five top seeds: 16 matches. What is different is the timetable. Because of fewer official dates on the FIFA calendar and CONCACAF teams competing in the 2016 Copa America, the U.S. schedule will begin seven months earlier than the previous World Cup cycle. Had the qualifiers not begun so early, the Americans would have played friendlies during those FIFA windows.

The U.S. schedule

Semifinal round (three four-team groups)

Nov. 7-17, 2015: two matches

March 21-29, 2016: two matches

Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2016: two matches

(MLS will honor the FIFA window in November and presumably both periods next year)

Two teams from each of the three groups will advance to the six-team final round for 10 matches (five home, five away):

Nov. 7-15, 2016: two matches

March 20-28, 2017: two matches

June 5-13, 2017: two matches

Aug. 28-Sept. 5, 2017: two matches

Oct. 2-10, 2017: two matches

CONCACAF rankings (based on FIFA rankings in August 2014):

1. Costa Rica

2. Mexico

3. United States

4. Honduras

5. Panama

6. Trinidad & Tobago

7. Jamaica

8. Haiti

9. Canada

10. Cuba

11. Aruba

12. Dominican Republic

13. El Salvador

14. Suriname

15. Guatemala

16. St. Vincent and Grenadines

17. St. Lucia

18. Grenada

19. Antigua & Barbuda

20. Guyana

21. Puerto Rico

22. St. Kitts & Nevis

23. Belize

24. Montserrat

25. Dominica

26. Barbados

27. Bermuda

28. Nicaragua

29. Turks & Caicos

30. Curacao

31. U.S. Virgin Islands

32. Bahamas

33. Cayman Islands

34. British Virgin Islands

35. Anguilla

— Teams 22-35 will play seven home-and-home series this March 23-31.

— The seven advancing sides will join teams 9-21 for 10 home-and-home series this June 8-16.

— The 10 survivors will advance to the third round, this Aug. 31-Sept. 8, and be joined by Jamaica and Haiti for six home-and-home series.

— Those six teams to advance will join the top six seeds this fall for the start of semifinal-round group play.

The draw for the first two rounds will take place this Thursday night in Miami.

The draw for subsequent stages will be held this July 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Venues for the three U.S. semifinal home matches will not be decided for quite some time.