By Ryan Bailey
The United States Men’s National Team and Mexico will be leading contenders in the latest edition of the biannual CONCACAF tournament
CHARLOTTE—On the same weekend that new champions will be crowned in Europe and South America—at Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa America, respectively—the United States Men’s National team and Mexico will begin their campaigns in the biannual CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Here’s everything you need to know about the tournament…
What is the CONCACAF Gold Cup?
The Gold Cup, held every two years, is CONCACAF’s equivalent to the European Championships or the Copa America. The tournament is used to determine the continental champion of the CONCACAF region (North America, Central America and the Caribbean).
The tournament was first staged in 1963 as the ‘CONCACAF Championship,’ two years after the federation was formally founded. The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) made their debut in the tournament in 1985, where they finished in sixth place. Mexico, meanwhile, has played in all but two editions of the tournament since its inception.
The tournament was rebranded and reformatted as the Gold Cup in 1991, and the United States has hosted or co-hosted it every year since.
The most successful team in the tournament’s history is Mexico, with 11 wins. El Tri are also the reigning champions, after defeating the U.S. in the 2019 final at Soldier Field, Chicago. The USMNT owns six Gold Cup titles.
Soccer fans in Charlotte may be familiar with the tournament as Bank of America Stadium hosted Gold Cup matches in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions. Charlotte hosted the Mexican national team on all three occasions—and they proceeded to win the tournament each time.
What is the format of the tournament?
The Gold Cup is structured similarly to other international tournaments: a group stage proceeds a single-elimination knockout bracket.
A total of 16 teams feature in the 2021 edition, who are split into four groups of four. The top two teams in each group progress to the quarterfinal stage.
Among the 16 teams is invited guest Qatar, champions of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup champions and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts. The remaining 15 CONCACAF nations were required to qualify for the tournament. Twelve places were decided based on results from the 2019–20 CONCACAF Nations League, while the remaining three teams qualified via the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Prelims in early July. Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Guadeloupe qualified qualified via the prelims, which featured the 12 teams from CONCACAF’s 41 members who did not qualify via the Nations League.
When is the Gold Cup taking place?
The 2021 edition of the tournament begins on Saturday July 10 at 5 p.m. ET, when El Salvador face Curaçao at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. (Fans in Charlotte will be able to attend CLTFC’s viewing party at The Suffolk Punch).
Mexico will start its campaign later that evening at 10 p.m., with a group-stage game against Trinidad & Tobago at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The USMNT begins on Sunday July 11 at 8.30 p.m., when Gregg Berhalter’s team hosts Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City.
There are 14 match days leading up to the final on Monday, August 2, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Where is this year’s Gold Cup being staged?
The Gold Cup is traditionally held across multiple cities, and 2021 is no exception.
A total of 10 venues will be used, including six in Texas: The Cotton Bowl, Toyota Stadium and AT&T Stadium in Dallas, NRG Stadium and BBVA Stadium in Houston, and Austin’s brand-new Q2 Stadium.
State Farm Stadium in Arizona, Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas are also hosting. The final will take place in Las Vegas.
How can I watch the tournament?
In North America, the Gold Cup is being broadcast on FOX. The USMNT’s opener on Sunday will be shown on FS1. Click here for a full list of broadcast availability throughout the CONCACAF region.