Cordeiro reveals a potential major shift in the international calendar
So what types of competitions will the U.S. team be playing in the years ahead outside of the World Cup? A lot is up in the air right now with the end of the Confederations Cup, the potential end of the Gold Cup, and an easier World Cup qualifying on the horizon. Brian Sciaretta takes a look.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedOVER THE WEEKEND at the annual general meeting for U.S. Soccer, federation president Carlos Cordeiro signified that there could be a major shift ahead for the international calendar which could have major implications for the United States men’s national team.
February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019
For one, Cordeiro said that the Confederations Cup is “over and done with.”
He also added that the Gold Cup is slated to take place this year and in 2021 but it might not continue after that. While there have been some talks between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL for a combined Copa America tournament similar to 2016, that has not been agreed to yet.
As of now, the future schedule for the United States men’s national team looks very unsettled. With the World Cup expanding to 48 teams, qualifying will eventually become much easier for the U.S. team. Without a combined Copa America or a Confederations Cup along with the possible elimination of the Gold, that only leaves the new CONCACAF Nations League and the easier World Cup qualifying format as the only existing competitions for the U.S. team between World Cups. It also eliminates any possibility for competitions against non-CONCACAF opponents outside of the quadrennial World Cup.
The Gold Cup was often looked upon for U.S. Soccer as a gateway to the Confederations Cup and a way to play top-level opponents a year before the World Cup. A Confederations Cup berth was seen as such a prize for the Gold Cup that last cycle, CONCACAF introduced the CONCACAF Cup which had the winners of the two recent Gold Cups play each other for a spot in the Confederations Cup (previously only the winner of the first Gold Cup in the four-year World Cup cycle would qualify for the Confederations Cup).
Cordeiro has a major task at hand to keep the U.S. team playing relevant competitions besides the World Cup. A handful of intense games every four years is simply not enough as the U.S. is looking to improve its standing in world soccer.
So what are the solutions? It would seem that for the U.S. team to play meaningful soccer outside of the World Cup, a combined Copa America almost becomes necessary. Having the U.S. team invited to the Copa America as a guest team doesn’t meet the objectives because clubs are not required to release players to national teams where it is a guest team.
A combined Copa would make it an official competition for all teams and it would open the U.S. team to playing against top teams such as Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Uruguay while also keeping its rivalries with countries like Mexico and Costa Rica.
Other potential solutions seem more unlikely at this point – such as a merger of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL or a breakoff of the top teams in CONCACAF into CONMEBOL.
For now, it is an interesting situation and a major test for U.S. Soccer to keep the men’s national team progressing with major competitions over the course of a cycle.