FOOTBALL Preview: Road to World Cup 2019 starts with CONCACAF Champs

After playing two years worth of games that meant nothing, the U.S. women’s national team will begin its defense of its 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship with the CONCACAF Women’s Championship beginning on Thursday, 4 October.

The top three teams in this event, running from 4-17 October, will qualify directly to the 2019 World Cup, with a fourth team moving into a play-off, with that winner to qualify to go to France.

The eight teams in the CONCACAF Championship are split into two groups (shown with current FIFA world rankings ):

Group A:
United States (1), Mexico (24), Trinidad & Tobago (52), Panama (66)
(Games at Shalen’s Stadium: Cary, North Carolina)

Group B:
Canada (5), Costa Rica (34), Cuba (88), Jamaica (64)
(Games at H-E-B Park: Edinburg, Texas)

The top two teams out of each group will advance to the semifinals at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

The U.S. schedule includes:

04 October: U.S. vs. Mexico 7:30 p.m. Eastern time (on FS2 and UDN)
07 October: U.S. vs. Panama 5:00 p.m. Eastern time (on FS1 and UDN)
10 October: U.S. vs. Trinidad & Tobago 7:30 p.m. Eastern time (on FS2 and UDN)

All of the tournament games will be shown on FS1 or FS2, as well as Univision. The semis will be on 14 October and the finals on 17 October.

The U.S. enters as a heavy favorite, carrying an unbeaten streak now at 21 (18-0-3) since a loss to Australia in mid-2017. In 2018, the U.S. women are 11-0-2 and have outscored their opponents, 36-10. That includes wins over CONCACAF rivals Mexico by 4-1 and 6-2 scores last April; the U.S. women are 34-1-1 all-time vs. Mexico.

Jill Ellis’s America squad is fairly healthy and includes the major U.S. stars, including strikers Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, midfielders Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and Morgan Brian, defenders Crystal Dunn and Becky Sauerbrunn and keeper Alyssa Naeher.

This is the 10th edition of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, first held in 1991. The U.S. has dominated the event, winning in 1991-93-94-2000-02-06-14 and taking the bronze medal in 2010. All-time, the American women have compiled a 27-1-0 record in this tournament, losing only in 2010 and did not compete in 1999 as an automatic qualifier for the World Cup as the host country. Canada won the 1998 and 2010 tournaments.

Look for the scores here.