The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its first matches of the new year when the Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off in February, marking the start of competition for the USA as well as the start of a new flagship competition for the region. While the games are still months away, the official draw to determine the groups and paths through the tournament for all participating teams will take place on Monday, Dec. 11 in Miami, Fla. and will be televised in the U.S. on Paramount+.
As the USA prepares to learn its final path for February, here are Five Things to Know about the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup Draw.
The first edition of Concacaf’s new flagship competition for women’s soccer, the Concacaf W Gold Cup will be played from February 17 – March 10. The competition kicks off with a Preliminary Round on Feb. 17 at Dignity Health Sports Park Track and Field Stadium to determine the three teams that will join the rest of the field in the Group Stage. The six teams participating in the preliminary round were paired up based on the latest Concacaf rankings, pitting Haiti vs. Puerto Rico, El Salvador against Guatemala and Guyana vs. the Dominican Republic.
The winner of each prelim match will advance to the Group Stage, which features three groups of four teams each competing in round-robin play. The USA will play the entirety of its group stage in Carson, Calif. at Dignity Health Sports Park, with matches on Feb. 20, Feb. 23 and Feb. 26.
The top two finishers from each group will advance to the knockout rounds, along with the two best third-place teams overall. The knockout rounds kick off with the Quarterfinal Round, the pairings for which will be determined by the Group Stage standings. The team accumulating the most points overall in the group stage will face the country accumulating the least points, the team accumulating the second-most points facing the team with the seventh-most points and so on, so the #1 seed will face the #8 seed, #2 will play #7, #3 will play #6 and #4 will play #5.
The winners of the single-match elimination games will then advance to the semifinal and final rounds.
ABOUT THE FIELD
The field for the Concacaf W Gold Cup is comprised of 15 total teams: nine that have already qualified for the Group Stage and the six prelim participants. The USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama have qualified directly for the group stage along with CONMEBOL participants Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti and Puerto Rico will participate in the Preliminary Round.
The USA qualified for the Concacaf W Gold Cup by winning the Concacaf W Championship in July of 2022 while Canada, which finished runner-up to the USA at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, qualified by defeating Jamaica – the third-place team at the CWC – in the Concacaf Olympic Playoff in September of 2023. Costa Rica, Mexico and Canada qualified for the Final Tournament by winning their respective groups during qualifying, which was known as the Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup and was held over the recent September, October and December FIFA windows. Haiti, Guatemala and Puerto Rico finished second in their respective groups to advance to the prelims where they are joined by the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Guyana, the three group winners from League B.
The tournament’s four guest teams from South America – Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay – were invited based on their top-four finish at the 2022 Copa America Femenina. Brazil defeated Colombia 1-0 in the championship match of that tournament while Argentina topped Paraguay 3-1 in the third-place match.
The 12 teams participating in the Group Stage – with placeholders for each of the Prelim Winners – have been distributed into four pots of three teams each for the official draw.
|M1 Winner: HAI vs PUR
|M2 Winner: SLV vs GUA
|M3 Winner: GUY vs DOM
The draw will open with the pre-seeded teams (USA, Brazil and Canada) being place in their assigned group positions (A1, B1 and C1, respectively) and from there team from Pot 2 will be draw and placed into Groups A, B and C with no more than one team from each pot in each group. The same procedure will be replicated for Pots 3 and 4 until all three groups have four teams.
The USA (the top-ranked team in Concacaf), Brazil (the Copa America Femenina winner) and Canada (the second-highest ranked team in Concacaf) are in Pot 1 and have been preassigned the first position in their respective groups (A1, B1, C1). Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama are in Pot 2 as the next highest-ranked teams in Concacaf while Pot 3 is comprised of the remaining teams from CONMEBOL: Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay. Pot 4 will be made up of the teams that qualify for the Group Stage via the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup Prelims.
SIGHTS ON SAN DIEGO
The Concacaf W Gold Cup will be played in four venues across the United States, with matches being played at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, Shell Energy Stadium in Houston and BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.
Group A, headlined by the USA, will be played entirely at Dignity Health Sports Park, while Group B, led by Brazil, will play all its group matches at Snapdragon Stadium and Group C, which features Canada, will be at Shell Energy Stadium.
The Quarterfinals will be played on March 2 and 3 at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, home of Angel City FC in the National Women’s Soccer League and LAFC of Major League Soccer while the Semifinals and Final will all be contested in San Diego at Snapdragon Stadium, home of the 2023 NWSL Shield Winners San Diego Wave FC.
The USWNT played its first ever match at Snapdragon Stadium this October, a 3-0 win over fellow W Gold Cup participant Colombia on Oct. 29. The Americans will be looking for a return trip to the venue as they look to win the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup.
REGIONS ON THE RISE
Concacaf, which is comprised of the member soccer associations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and CONMEBOL, the governing body for soccer in South America, has experienced significant growth in the women’s game in recent years.
Seven of the nine teams that have already qualified for the Concacaf W Gold Cup Group Stage participated in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and the USA. Haiti, which faces Puerto Rico in the Preliminary Round, made – and impressed – in its World Cup debut Down Under this summer.
Four teams in this tournament – the United States, Canada, Brazil and Colombia – have qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which kicks off on July 25. With a 12-team field and two days of rest between matches, the Concacaf Gold Cup mirrors the cadence of the Olympic Group Stage and will be valuable preparation for those participating teams.