The USMNT Will Kick-Off Its Concacaf Nations League Campaign In The Capital
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The USMNT’s debut fixture in the Concacaf Nations League has finally been announced.
"Events DC is honored for DC to host the U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team vs. Cuba in the first-ever CONCACAF Nations League competition..." @EventsDCPrez
— Events DC (@TheEventsDC) August 19, 2019
The USA will face Cuba on October 11 in Washington, D.C. at 7 p.m. ET. This will be third time the D.C. Metropolitan Area has hosted a match against Cuba, with the U.S. winning all previous matchups in the capital.
We’ve discussed the format of the Nations League in previous articles, but I will give a quick recap. In essence, the Concacaf Nations League is a competition involving all 41 nations that are a part of Concacaf. The format is very similar to that of the UEFA Nations League, with teams being separated into three tiers (A,B,C), and with each nation's league placement being dependent on the results of a four-game qualifying process that occurred last fall.
Those league members are then spilt into groups, with the group-winners receiving promotion to the league above them for the next season and the teams that finish at the bottom of their group being relegated to the league below. In the case of Group A, since it is the highest tier league, the four group winners compete in a four-team playoff, with the winner of that playoff winning the Concacaf Nations League.
Here is a breakdown of each of the leagues:
Concacaf Nations League A
Group A — United States, Canada, Cuba
Group B — Mexico, Panama, Bermuda
Group C — Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique
Group D — Costa Rica, Haiti, Curaçao
Concacaf Nations League B
Group A — French Guiana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Grenada
Group B — El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Montserrat
Group C — Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba
Group D — Nicaragua, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica
Concacaf Nations League C
Group A — Barbados, Cayman Islands, Saint Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands
Group B — Bonaire, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands
Group C — Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Anguilla
Group D — Guadeloupe, Turks and Caicos Islands, Saint Marten
The U.S. is in Group A of League A and shares a group with Cuba and Canada.
It is also important to note that matches will have an added significance as participants for the final round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying will be determined based off FIFA rankings at the conclusion of this tournament.
Here is the USA’s schedule for the rest of the tournament:
10/15: Canada vs. USA, BMO Field, Toronto, 7:30 p.m. EST
11/15: USA vs. Canada, TBD
11/19: Cuba vs. USA, TBD
Since the match is still almost two months away, USMNT head coach Greg Berhalter has yet to announce a squad for the Nations League opener. The manager will have a lot to think about over the coming weeks, as the qualifiers will occur in the heart of the season for American call-ups who play in Europe and right before the MLS playoffs, so it will be difficult for him to pick top-level players without disrupting club schedules.
There is a chance that Berhalter plays his B-team to give some fledging players the opportunity to impress, but given it is the first game of a major tournament, expect at the very least a few bigger names in the squad.
America has two friendlies in September, against Mexico and Uruguay, which should help him figure out who will be on the team-sheet come October. The opening match will be broadcast live on October 11, 7 p.m. ET on FS1.