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Nicaragua expelled from Gold Cup, replaced by Trinidad & Tobago

Holy change, Batman!

Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup-Nicaragua at Haiti Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There was a wild change that occurred late Monday night that has changed up the field for the 2023 Gold Cup. On Monday, CONCACAF announced that Nicaragua would be kicked out of the 2023 Gold Cup as punishment for fielding an ineligible player in a series of international matches. They have also been relegated to League B in the next Nations League competition that begins this fall, which ultimately removes any chance of Nicaragua qualifying for next summer’s Copa América.

Trinidad & Tobago will move from the qualifying round into the third spot in Group A. Antigua & Barbuda will, in turn, come into the Gold Cup prelims to fill the spot vacated by the Soca Warriors. Trinidad & Tobago will also replace Nicaragua in League A of the next Nations League.

CONCACAF judged that Nicaragua had fielded an ineligible player across 8 matches. The story was broken by our sister SB Nation blog, FMF State of Mind. While the player was not named by Concacaf, FMF State of Mind reported that the player in question was likely Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez was originally born in Uruguay, but eventually naturalized and became a Nicaraguan citizen. However, it appears he did not meet the FIFA requirement for 5 years residency in the country and is therefore ineligible to play for Nicaragua.

Nicaragua had originally qualified for the Gold Cup by finishing atop their group in CONCACAF Nations League B. Trinidad & Tobago finished with the most points out of all the second place teams, which is why they replace Nicaragua now. Nicaragua will now play in League B.

Because of these changes, the United States Men’s National Team will now play Trinidad & Tobago on July 2nd in Charlotte, NC. The USMNT will open their tournament on June 25th against Jamaica in Chicago, with their second match against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on June 28th in St. Louis.

Hit the comments to discuss these Gold Cup and Nations League changes.