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Five Things to Know About the Concacaf Nations League

Presented by Thorne
U.S. Soccer

The U.S. Men’s National Team will round out its 2019 campaign by taking part in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League. Here are five things to know about the new competition:

What Is It?

Similar to the recently launched UEFA Nations League, Concacaf’s version was created to maximize the quality, quantity and frequency of competitive matches for all of the confederation’s 41 Member Associations.

How do Teams Qualify?

A four-game qualifying tournament for the Concacaf Nations League began in September 2018 and concluded during the March 2019 FIFA international window.

While all 41 Member Associations are part of the competition, the qualifying tournament was used to help place teams in their respective leagues for the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League: League A, League B and League C.

The Format

Here’s a brief rundown of the tournament format:

League A

Number of Teams: 12 teams

Group Format: Four groups of three teams

Qualifiers: Comprised of the six teams that took part in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup AND the top six finishers in Nations League Qualifying.

Teams: USA, Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago

 

League B

Number of Teams: 16 teams

Group Format:
Four groups of four teams

Qualifiers: Comprised of the teams which finished 7-22 in Nations League qualifying

Teams: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname

League C

Number of Teams:
13 teams

Group Format:
Three groups of three teams AND one group of four teams

Qualifiers:
Comprised of the teams which finished 23-34 in Nations League qualifying and Guatemala, who was suspended at the beginning of the competition.

Teams: Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos and U.S. Virgin Islands

The Group Phase for each league is a round-robin, home-and-away format which runs during the course of the September, October and November FIFA international dates in 2019. At the end of the round-robin competition, the League A and B teams which finish last in their groups will be relegated to the lower league, while the group winners in Leagues B and C will be promoted to the higher league for the next edition of the competition.

Additionally, the four group winners from League A will advance to the Knockout Round where a semifinal and final will be played during the June FIFA international dates to crown the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League champion. The semifinal matchups will place the No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 and No. 2 seed vs. No. 3.

According to the competition regulations, seedings will be based on these group stage tiebreakers: 1) total number of points, 2) goal differential, 3) goals scored, 4) greatest number of goals scored in away matches, 5) Fair Play rankings, 6) drawing of lots.

What Else is At Stake?

In short, plenty.

First, the competition represents the last competitive matches which Concacaf nations will play prior to the publishing the June 2020 FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. This is important because in July, Concacaf announced a new World Cup Qualifying format which will see the top six ranked nations in June’s FIFA Ranking go straight into the Final Round, also known as the Hex. With competitive matches weighted higher than friendlies, these games will prove crucial for some teams to make it to the Hex.

Teams not ranked inside the top six aren’t completely shutout of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but will instead have to go through a second, more rigorous playoff track involving 29 teams and between 14-16 additional qualifying matches for each, just for the opportunity to claim the final spot. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of benefit to being in the top six come June 2020.

Here is the current Concacaf Top 10 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking:

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – Sept. 19, 2019

Concacaf Ranking

Team

Overall FIFA Ranking

Points

1

Mexico

12

1603

2

USA

21

1545

3

Costa Rica

43

1442

4

Jamaica

47

1435

5

Honduras

67

1359

6

El Salvador

72

1342

7

Canada

75

1322

8

Curaçao

76

1320

9

Panama

77

1331

10

Haiti

86

1277


Additionally, Concacaf announced in September that the 2019-20 Nations League would serve as a primary qualifying track for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. The group winners and runners up in League A (eight teams), along with the group winners in League B (four teams) will automatically qualify for the next confederation championship.

A further qualifying process will occur to make up the 16-team field, with the League C winners facing off against the League B runners-up in two-leg, home-and-away playoffs, with the winners going up against the League A third-place teams in a similar two-leg tie. The four victors from those series will fill out the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup field.

The Draw and Standings

The 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League Draw took place March 27, 2019 at The Chelsea Theater in Las Vegas. The USA was drawn into League A, Group A against northern neighbors Canada and Caribbean foe Cuba. Those two teams already played their matches against each other during the September window, giving Canada poll position at the moment.

2019-20 Concacaf Nations League A, Group A

Team

GP

W

L

D

Pts.

GF

GA

GD

Canada

2

2

0

0

6

7

0

7

USA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cuba

2

0

2

0

0

0

7

-7


See the
full tournament standings via Concacaf.com.


The Schedule

The USMNT will close out its 2019 campaign with four Concacaf Nations League matches – two home and two away -- in October and November.

See the full schedule below:

Date

Opponent

Location

Time (ET)

TV

Oct. 11

vs. Cuba

Audi Field; Washington, D.C.

7 p.m.

FS1, UniMas, TUDN

Oct. 15

at Canada

BMO Field; Toronto, Canada

7:30 p.m.

ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN

Nov. 15

vs. Canada

Exploria Stadium; Orlando, Fla.

7 p.m.

ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN

Nov. 19

vs. Cuba

Georgetown, Cayman Islands

7:30 p.m.

FS1, UniMas, TUDN