The 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup was originally scheduled to be held from July 2 through July 25 2021, will now be played from July 10 through August 1 in the U.S.. Mexico are the defending champions.
In the past, Concacaf hand-picked its Gold Cup groups based on commercial and competitive considerations. This year, however, in advance of the 16th regional championship, a proper draw was conducted for the first time. And for the USA, it delivered a tantalizing matchup with Alphonso Davies and Canada.
Typically, Mexico and the USA have been kept apart purposely until the Gold Cup final. Now they could face each other in the semis as well, depending on how the group stage concludes. Mexico was drawn with El Salvador, surprise 2019 quarterfinalist Curaçao (now coached by Guus Hiddink) and a qualifier.
Another surprise is that CONCACAF has invited Qatar, the Asian champion and 2022 World Cup host to participate.
“I know that many communities in our region are going through challenging times and the thoughts of everyone at Concacaf are with them. I hope tonight’s draw provided some anticipation for the fans, a chance to remember great Gold Cup moments of the past and to talk about football with friends and family,” Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani said in a statement
“It was a great event that delivered exciting match-ups to look forward to, both for the Prelims and the Group Stage. I particularly enjoyed seeing the reaction of the head coaches live as it really added to the occasion and set the scene for next year’s tournament.
“We expanded last year’s Gold Cup and it was a huge success in showcasing outstanding football from our region. We want to build on that for the 2021 edition and believe the introduction of the Prelims and an exciting new format for the knockout stage will provide a great spectacle next year.”
The Knockout Stage, to be played among the top two finishers in each group, will for the first time in Gold Cup history see teams on opposite sides of the bracket meet from the quarterfinals onwards. In previous editions, teams have only competed against opponents on the same side of the bracket until the Final. This change will add further unpredictability and excitement to the competition, which was expanded from 12 to 16 teams for a hugely successful 2019 edition.
The games will be played across nine U.S. cities as CONCACAF uses hub cities to minimize travel for the teams. The nine stadiums that will host group and knockout stage matches of this year’s Gold Cup are:
- AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
- BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX
- Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS
- Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX (1993)
- Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
- NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
- Q2 Stadium, Austin, TX
- State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
- Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao and Winner Prelims 9
Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique and Winner Prelims 7
Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname and Winner Prelims 8
Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada and Qatar.
The knockout stage will be played as follows:
Quarterfinal #1: Winner Group D vs Second Place Group A
Quarterfinal #4: Winner Group B vs Second Place Group C
Quarterfinal #2: Winner Group A vs Second Place Group D
Quarterfinal #3: Winner Group C vs Second Place Group B
Semifinal #1: Winner Quarterfinal #1 vs Winner Quarterfinal #4
Semifinal #2: Winner Quarterfinal #2 vs Winner Quarterfinal #3
Final: Winner Semifinal #1 vs Winner SF #2
Concacaf will announce venues, kick-off times, schedule, and other details for the 2021 Gold Cup in the coming months.