The fall schedule will be a lot different for the United States Men’s National Team than originally planned. Today, Concacaf announced a series of changes for the next two editions of the Concacaf Nations League, which features an expansion of League A to 16 teams. However, that expansion comes with a format change that will see the USMNT play fewer games in the tournament.
The changes begin with the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League, which begins in September. This edition of the tournament will serve as qualification for the 2024 Copa América, which takes place in the United States in the summer of 2024 and will feature 6 Concacaf teams. The 2024-25 Concacaf Nations League will continue to serve as qualification for the 2025 Gold Cup.
League A will expand to 16 teams, up from the current 12. However, for group stage play, the 12 lowest ranked League A teams, based on the March 2023 Concacaf Rankings, will be split into 2 groups of 6 teams each, with each team playing a total of 4 games in a “Swiss style” league system in September in October. They will play 2 home matches and 2 away matches.
The top two finishers in each group will advance to the Nations League quarterfinals in November, a new leg of the competition. There, it will join the four top-ranked League A teams, including the USMNT. There, teams will be paired up and play the quarterfinals in a two-legged, home-and-away format. The winners on aggregate will advance to the Nations League Finals in March 2024.
The quarterfinal winners will qualify for the 2024 Copa América. The quarterfinal losers will move to a playoff, where the two playoff winners will also qualify for Copa América.
League B will continue to have 16 teams and play in the same format that they currently have. League C will have the final 9 teams, with 3 groups of 3 playing each other home-and-away.
Because of the expansion, there will be no relegation in the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League, whose group stage concludes this month. There will continue to be promotion, with 4 group winners from League B being promoted to League A to round out the 16 teams that will compete in the 2023-24 competition. The League C group winners will also be promoted to League B. Promotion and relegation between Leagues will resume at the end of the 2023-24 competition.
The draw for the 2023-24 competition is scheduled for May 16th, but the USMNT will not know until October who they will play in the Nations League quarterfinals in November. What this means for the USMNT is that the September and October windows this year have been opened for friendlies as they await who they will play in Nations League in November. The November window will consist of a home match and an away match against one of the League A teams that qualify for the quarterfinals.
Concacaf announces formats for men’s national team competitions for the 2023-2026 cyclehttps://t.co/MMTxne2OIK— Concacaf (@Concacaf) February 28, 2023
Hit the comments to discuss these format changes for the Concacaf Nations League, and how it affects the USMNT.