As soccer becomes more popular in North America, CONCACAF, FIFA’s regional confederation for  the Americas is adapting to the times. Among the efforts is the new CONCACAF Nations League Tournament.  The tourney began in early September and concludes in June of 2020. In the end 41 teams qualified for the new event.

Why Nations League

CONCACAF created the Nations League for three reasons….

1 Create a new pathway to qualifying for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

2. Assist with CONCACAF qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

3. Get CONCACAF’s smaller teams involved in more international competition.

Nations League Tournament Structure

Each team is slotted into one of three leagues – A, B or C – based on qualifying. There are four groups within each league (A, B, C, D), and each group houses between three and four teams. CONCACAF did an excellent job in making sure that each group is diverse by placing teams from different regions against one another, as opposed to pairing regional rivals against one another automatically. The first leg of league play has already concluded with the next round of games set to begin today!

Latino America Esta Presente

Latin America is well represented at this inaugural event. But where does each team stand? Here’s a breakdown of the participating teams and how they stack up against the rest of the field….

Costa Rica

CONCACAF Region: Central America

All-Time Record: 277-202-150

Of course they’ll be arguments about how good Costa Rica is compared to CONCACAF as a whole. But what’s proven is that they are hands down the best team in Central America. They’ve proven that with the championships, their win-loss record, and the fact they keep qualifying for international competition. After falling to Mexico in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup back in June. Midfielders Bryan Ruiz (126 caps, 26 goals), Celso Borges (126 caps, 23 goals), and goalkeeper Keylor Navas (88 caps), are back to redeem themselves. “Los Ticos” will have to contend with Curacao (whom they play on October 14th) and Haiti in Group D of League A. They’ve seen success against both teams (12-2-4 combined record).

Why They Will Win: They’re currently the best team in CONCACAF not named Mexico or the United States.

Why They Won’t: Potential future matchups against the U.S. and Mexico could  prove to be difficult.

Cuba

CONCACAF Region: Caribbean

While the current Cuban team lacks international experience (average age is 21-years-old) they do have some talent. Forwards Maikel Reyes (14 caps, 2 goals), Yordan Santa Cruz (15 caps, 7 goals), and midfielder Andy Baquero (21 caps, 3 goal) will provide the offense. They have arguably one of the tougher draws as they are in Group A of League A alongside Team USA and Canada for whom they have a combined 3-19-3 record against. They open up the next round against the Americans on October 11th.

Why They Will Win: Cuba’s national team is a hungry squad with everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Why They Will Won’t: They struggle against CONCACAF competition (105-112-59 all-time record in the confederation)

Dominican Republic

CONCACAF Region: Caribbean

The Dominican national team has only been in existence since 1970. After all, La Republica Dominicana is known more for baseball than soccer. The Nations League is only the third different international competition for this program. Their previous events include three Pan American Games (1971, 1979, 2003), five Caribbean Games (1970, 1974, 1986, 1990, 2002), and two Caribbean Cups (1991, 2012). The Dominican’s didn’t make it past the first round in any of those events.

Out of everyone on the current roster; only goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd (35 caps), defender Cesar Garcia (23 caps, 1 goal), and striker Darly Batista (16 caps, 9 goals) remain from the 2012 Caribbean Cup squad. The D.R. is lined up in Group B of League B along with El Salvador, Montserrat, and St. Lucia (resumes against them on October 12th). They’ve actually had some success against all three teams (4-3 combined record), and this is their chance to put themselves on the futbol map.

Why They Will Win: As relative newcomers to the international scene, the Dominicans are looking to shock the soccer world.

Why They Won’t: Very little international experience.

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About The Author

Gabe Salgado

Gabe is a sports journalist of Puerto Rican and Spanish decent who's worked in media for over 15 years. He also writes for Fox News Latino and The Sports Journal. You can also hear him on the radio via Chicagoland Sports Radio and Logik Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82

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