The makeover of the CONCACAF friendly schedule has begun, and a new competition has emerged. CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani told Reuters today that the confederation will launch a new Nations League competition that will begin in September 2018. The format will be comparable to UEFA’s Nations League competition that will also begin next September. The tournament will involve all of CONCACAF’s member nations, including the United States and Mexico.
Montagliani told Reuters that the new Nations League format will address the issue of the smaller, mainly Caribbean island nations finding it difficult to schedule games and get regular competition for its teams. All 41 CONCACAF nations will be split into three divisions for a round robin of matches, with promotion and relegation, and likely to be played on a biennial basis. Reuters’ Simon Evans reports that the CONCACAF Nations League will include a “final four” to decide the champion and promotion/relegation playoffs to decide division movement. The Nations League will also serve as a route to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Nations League, according to Montigliani, will not replace all friendlies but should fill most of the friendly schedule between major competitions like the Gold Cup and the World Cup. For the smaller island nations, it will provide guaranteed matches under a centralized TV contract that will allow them the finances to improve their development as soccer nations through regular competition.
What does this mean for the USMNT? Well, the format is not expected to be finalized until February but if split into three divisions based on “sporting levels,” it will likely mean more friendlies against teams like Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduras. With three divisions, there may be opportunities for the United States to compete against teams that they rarely see during the Gold Cup or World Cup qualifying.
What are your thoughts on the new CONCACAF Nations League?