CONCACAF released the dates for the first round of Nations League fixtures on Tuesday. I guess that’s cool?
The USMNT will have the month of September off, before taking on Canada and Cuba in October and November.
The US’s group, as well as almost the entire rest of the Nations League isn’t going to turn any heads. People will watch, because people watch every USMNT friendly, but gaining serious interest in this “tournament” is gonna be real tough.
Having said that, I’m a HUGE fan of CONCACAF running a nations league. It’s good for CONCACAF and it’s great for the United States.
When it comes to developing a national team, the more competitive games you play the better. It doesn’t matter if you’re not playing the best competition.
The nations league forces US Soccer to give up money-grabbing friendlies and actually play some games that will help the team develop. Playing competitive away games in CONCACAF is far more beneficial than another home friendly against Costa Rica or Honduras. .
In fact, it’s almost upsetting that the US got drawn against Canada rather than a more hostile CONCACAF rival.
The nations league will give the younger players their first taste of what it’s like to go on the road in CONCACAF. That experience will be invaluable come World Cup qualifiers.
The other benefit will be the pressure. Getting drawn against Canada and Cuba means the US must finish top of their group. It doesn’t matter if no one cares about this tournament, finishing below Canada or Cuba would be an embarrassment right up there with missing the 2018 World Cup.
You’re not going to get that pressure by scheduling friendlies, regardless of who they’re against. That right there makes this tournament worthwhile.
PS: Just another USMNT note. I’m aware that the 40 man provisional Gold Cup roster came out yesterday. I’m saving my thoughts for when the roster of who’s coming to camp gets released just so I can pray that some of the names I saw on there won’t be in camp.