The President of CONCACAF, Victor Montagliani, reportedly told the Jamaican press that the Gold Cup will expand to 16 teams for the 2019 tournament. Nathan Carr tweeted out the quote on Monday.
Victor Montagliani tells Jamaican press: "2017 is the last edition of 12 teams in the Gold Cup as we will increase it to 16 for 2019."— Nathan Carr (@caribbeanftbl) January 10, 2017
Such a change to the format is intended to raise the profile of the tournament but will have little impact on the USMNT or the outcome itself. The nations that should benefit are the likes of Nicaragua, Belize and Antigua and Barbuda among a few others, none of which are likely to make a deep run in the tournament. However, the move will help CONCACAF in a couple of ways. First, there will likely be a modest increase in revenue from the extra games.
Second, these smaller nations will benefit from the experience of playing the best in the region more frequently. The downside of course is that the extra four teams, at least in the near term, will dilute the quality of play of the early games and may slightly tarnish the brand of CONCACAF in so doing. But hey, expansion is the hot trend among the FIFA elite right now, so let's keep it growing.
This change might mean the end of a rumored CONCACAF and CONMEBOL agreement to have the Copa America played with both Confederations every four years - a proposal that was quickly refuted by Sunil Gulati. The presence of that super tournament would have to mean that the Gold Cup be either eliminated or reduced to every four years to accommodate. Montagliani's statement suggests that won't be happening, at least over the course of the next two tournaments. Adjustments might well be made to the schedule but at this point hopes of another Copa America on American soil should be set aside.
For fans of the Gold Cup or fans of the underdog this change will definitely be appealing. For fans looking to add bigger matches to the international calendar, there's not a lot to see here.