CONCACAF expands 2019 Gold Cup field to 16 teams

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Mark J. Rebilas
The confederation has added four teams to its regional championship and set plans to potentially host matches in Central America and the Caribbean

CONCACAF has expanded the Gold Cup from 12 to 16 teams for the 2019 tournament and will explore hosting matches outside of North America, the confederation announced Monday.

The biennial tournament has featured 12 teams for every event since 2000. Previously held with four groups of three teams, the Gold Cup has been contested with three groups of four teams since 2005.

That format saw the top two teams in each group joined by the top two third-place finishers in the quarterfinals. With 16 teams, only the top two sides in each group will advance to the Gold Cup knockout round in 2019.

"The expansion of the Gold Cup and the upcoming launch of the CONCACAF Nations League are key steps in delivering on the One CONCACAF Vision, to make the region’s most competitive football more accessible to more of our confederation’s teams, players and fans," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said in a news release.

"By widening access to these important tournaments for more of our member associations, we work towards our goal of ensuring that the football produced in the CONCACAF region is of the highest quality in the world."

CONCACAF also confirmed hopes of establishing a "pan-regional footprint" for the 2019 Gold Cup by playing matches outside of the United States, including potential contests in Central America and the Caribbean.

The U.S. has hosted every Gold Cup since the tournament kicked off in 1991, though Mexico (1993 and 2003) and Canada (2015) have also served as co-hosts.

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CONCACAF will announce the qualifying process for the 2019 Gold Cup at the confederation's Nations League launch event March 7 in Miami Beach, Florida. The process and criteria selecting host sites will be outlined by CONCACAF in the coming months. 

The U.S. is the defending Gold Cup champion after a 2-1 win over Jamaica in last summer's final.

Mexico is the most successful team in Gold Cup history, with seven titles, followed by the U.S. with six. Canada, which won the 2000 tournament, is the only other team to have claimed the title.

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