Two Matches, Double Importance: What’s at Stake for USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago x 2
Concacaf Nations League glory and Copa America Qualifying collide this week as the USMNT faces Trinidad & Tobago in a two-legged quarterfinal; the winner also goes to the South American championship next summer.

The USMNT begins another Concacaf Nations League campaign this week as it enters the quarterfinal round of the competition. Trinidad & Tobago is on the block for the twice-reigning champions of the tournament, but this edition carries a bit more importance than just Concacaf supremacy. 

Here are answers to some questions about the 2023-2024 Concacaf Nations League. 

We just won the Concacaf Nations League… why are we playing in it again?
Essentially, this compressed schedule of the 2023-24 competition and quick turnaround from the 2022-23 season is to put the Nations League back in its original cadence for the competition. When Concacaf announced the creation of the Nations League back in 2018, the plan was to play group rounds in September, October and November 2019 and the finals in March 2020. Well… COVID happened and pushed back everything. This will correct the course and (hopefully forever) eliminate the doubling-up of the Nations League and Gold Cup during a summer. 

We didn’t have a quarterfinals last time??
That’s correct, we played four “group” matches and then advanced to the semifinals. But Concacaf needed a way to open up Copa America 2024 qualifying to its teams, so they amended the 2023-24 format. Mexico, USA, Canada and Costa Rica qualified directly to the quarterfinals. The rest of the teams in League A were divided into two groups; the top two finishers in each group progressed to the quarterfinal to play one of the seeded teams.

Yes, we’re hosting, but we aren’t guaranteed a spot in the tournament, so we have to go through the same process as the others. 

So we have to win to qualify for Copa America?
Kinda. Winning the quarterfinal is the simplest way to snag a spot at the big tournament next summer. That accounts for four of Concacaf’s six sports in Copa America. The losers of the four quarterfinals will square off in a “play-in” match in March and the two winners will punch their tickets. 

How’d we get drawn against Trinidad & Tobago?
Although Concacaf is known for chaos, it did not choose to pit us against the team that gives USMNT fans the most anxiety. The tournament seeded four teams, and the USMNT is the second-ranked Concacaf team in the ranking index (We’re unsure how we’re second, given that we have won three of the last four Concacaf tournaments, but whatever). The draw pit seeded team 2 against group A runner-up, which ended up being Trinidad & Tobago. 

Do we have to beat Trinidad & Tobago on the island to qualify for a big tournament?
Hold your PTSD for just a second. It’s a two-legged tie, and the aggregate score determines the winner. We play Trinidad at home first; Gregg and the boys will look to build a sizable goal lead before heading to the Caribbean to play the second leg. 

November 14, 2023