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Explaining the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League

Don’t know how it works? We break it down.

The draw for the 2022-2023 Concacaf Nations League took place Monday night in Miami, and the United States Men’s National Team now knows it will face El Salvador and Grenada in the group stage for the right to defend its title in the Nations League Finals.

But with the new edition of the Nations League set to begin in June, it’s a good time to re-explain how the Nations League format will work. With 41 teams participating across 3 divisions (League A, League B, and League C), combined with promotion and relegation between the divisions, it’s a chance for many teams in Concacaf to play more competitive matches. We begin by describing the various leagues and how they will be set up.

League A

Group A - Mexico, Jamaica, Suriname

Group B - Costa Rica, Panama, Martinique

Group C - Canada, Honduras, Curaçao

Group D - USA, El Salvador, Grenada

League A consists of 4 groups of 3, competing in a double round robin where each team will play the others in their group home-and-away. The winner of each group would advance to the Nations League Finals, to be played in June 2023, while the 3rd place team will be relegated to League B.

League B

Group A - Cuba, Guadeloupe, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados

Group B - Haiti, Bermuda, Guyana, Montserrat

Group C - Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Bahamas

Group D - Guatemala, French Guiana, Dominican Republic, Belize

League B consists of 4 groups of 4 teams, each playing a double round robin home-and-away. The winner of each group would be promoted to League A, while the last place team in each group will be relegated to League C.

League C

Group A - Bonaire, Turks & Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten

Group B - St. Kitts & Nevis, Aruba, Saint-Martin

Group C - St. Lucia, Dominica, Anguilla

Group D - Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands

League C contains 13 lowest ranked CONCACAF teams, drawn into 3 groups of 3 and 1 group of 4. The winners of each group will be promoted to League B.

Gold Cup qualification

The beauty of this tournament is that it also serves as qualifying for the 2023 Gold Cup. 12 teams will earn direct qualification to the 2023 Gold Cup, while 12 more will move onto the Gold Cup prelims next summer. The 4 group winners and 4 second place finishers from each group in League A will qualify directly to the Gold Cup. Joining them will be the 4 group winners from League B, who will also book their tickets to the Gold Cup, along with invited guests Qatar.

The 3rd place finishers from each League A group, the 2nd place finishers from each League B group, and the group winners from League C will all qualify for the Gold Cup prelims. Those 12 teams will compete for the final 3 spots in the 2023 Gold Cup.

The CONCACAF Nations League may fill half of the calendar for the USMNT, Mexico, and the other big teams in Concacaf over the next year. However, the competition is geared towards providing those other teams in the region opportunities to gather their squads to play competitive matches and improve. When the smaller teams in Concacaf get better, the entire region does as well. The USMNT will still have some friendlies against teams outside of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, so American fans can still look forward to their team playing some of the bigger teams in the world in the coming months.

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