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CONCACAF NATIONS LEAGUE

Why are the USMNT and Mexico not playing in the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League group stage?

The latest edition of the CONCACAF Nations League is underway but the United States and El Tri are in friendly action.

Update:
The latest edition of the CONCACAF Nations League is underway but the United States and El Tri are in friendly action.
LOUIS GRASSEAFP

Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Neymar’s Brazil have got their qualification campaigns for the 2026 World Cup underway in South America in the September 2023 international break, while qualifying for Euro 2024, which will take place in Germany next summer, also rumbles on. The third edition of the CONCACAF Nations League has kicked off too, yet the USMNT and Mexico’s next four matches are all friendly games. So, what’s going on?

The first edition of the CONCACAF Nations League was held in 2019-20 and by the time the second one came around in 2022-23, we all thought we had it sussed. For the 2023-24 edition, however, some big changes were made, with the Stars and Stripes and El Tri two of the most affected nations.

What changes have been made to the CONCACAF Nations League?

In previous editions, the 41 member associations all participated in the group stage and were placed into Leagues A, B and C based on their CONCACAF ranking in 2019-20, and then their performance in the previous Nations League in 2022-23. League A had 12 teams, there were 16 in League B and League C had 13.

This year, however, only 37 teams are taking part in the first round, which includes 12 teams in League A, 16 in League B and 9 in League C. The four teams missing are the four highest ranked nations in the CONCACAF Rankings (Mexico, the United States, Canada and Panama), who qualify directly for the quarter-finals. A significant change from previous editions, when all participants had to earn their place in the knockout rounds, which started at the semi-final stage.

Nations League Group A, which provides the other last-eight participants, now features 12 countries in two six-team groups of a Swiss system, which means every team will play four matches (two home and two away) against group opponents, rather than taking on each team twice, as had been the case. This means that some countries in the same group will not face each other.

The four countries (two from each group) who amass the highest number of points from their four group matches will progress to the quarter-finals along with Mexico, the United States, Canada and Panama, who are the seeded teams and will each face one of teams that qualified from the group stage.

Who are the USMNT and Mexico playing against in September and October?

The CONCACAF Nations League group stage takes place in September and October 2024, which is why the USMNT and Mexico have no competitive fixtures during those breaks. The States will take on Uzbekistan (Saturday 9 September, 5:30 p.m. ET) and Oman (Tuesday 12 September, 9:30 p.m. ET), with Mexico facing Australia (Saturday 9 September, 10:00 p.m. ET) and the Uzbeks (Tuesday 12 September, 7:30 p.m. ET).

In October, the USMNT will play Germany (Saturday 14 October, 3:00 p.m. ET) and Ghana (Tuesday 17 October, 8:30 p.m. ET), while El Tri will come up against the same opponents in reverse order on Saturday 14 October, kick-off time TBC, and Tuesday 17 October, 8:00 p.m. ET.

When are the USMNT and Mexico’s next competitive games?

Both countries’ next competitive fixtures will come in the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League, with the two-legged quarter-finals scheduled for 16-17 November and 20-21 November.