16th of June – According to the accepted natural order, Mexico and the United States dominate Concacaf, although newly re-emerged Canada is now neck and neck with them, and Costa Rica leads the Central American challenge.
The Nations League League 1 half-time results do not represent conventional wisdom. None of those nations, who will all be representing Concacaf at the World Cup later this year, are in first place in their groups.
Canada, Mexico, and the United States all kicked off their games with a bang. Curacao was thrashed 4-0 by Canada, Grenada was thrashed 5-0 by the United States, and Suriname was thrashed 3-0 by Mexico. All of the victories came at home.
This week, all three nations played their second games, and none of them won.
Canada lost 2-1 to a Honduran team who struggled at the Gold Cup last year but have a proud ambition to return to being a top team in the region, the US drew 1-1 with El Salvador, while Mexico drew with Jamaica 1-1, who two matches earlier were left stranded by their FA in Suriname with no return flight booked.
Honduras, Jamaica, and El Salvador are the top three teams in their groups, with one game remaining against Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Panama leads Costa Rica by three points in League 1’s fourth group after putting their World Cup qualification losses behind them.
Costa Rica could have been forgiven for focusing more on their upcoming final World Cup qualifier against New Zealand (which they won), but Panama will have enjoyed their 2-0 win over the Costa Ricans, who robbed them of a place in the Qatar 2022 qualifier play-off in the final round of Concacaf qualifying.
When the Nations League group stage finals take place in March, there will be a lot on the line, with all four groups set to go down to the wire.
The champions of each group go to the centralised Nations League Finals in June 2023. None of the previous four finalists in 2021 are currently in a qualifying position.
The champions and runners-up in League A qualify for the Gold Cup 2023. The four League B group winners will join them in qualifying for the 2023 Gold Cup group stage. CNL League A group third place finishers, League B group runners-up and the four League C group winners will qualify to the 2023 Gold Cup Preliminary Round. There’s a lot at stake.
Before the start of this second edition of the Nations League, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani described the Concacaf Nations League as being “transformational” for his member nations due to the increase in competitive and meaningful matches.
It is a new eco-system that is now challenging the previously accepted natural order. Despite numerous challenges to the power axis of Mexico and the United States, those two countries have always managed to rise to the top.
That of course could still happen in this edition of the Nations League, but in World Cup qualifying they were forced to accept these are different time and sit behind a resurgent Canada. Others are now vying for a seat at the top table on an equal footing.
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