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CONCACAF W Championship 2022 Preview

By: Tim Antoniewicz

When: July 4th, 2022 to July 18th, 2022

Where: Mexico will host the competition at two stadiums in the greater Monterrey metropolitan area. Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe is the home to the club Monterrey. Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza is the home of Tigres. Both groups will play group stage matches at both venues.

How to Watch: In the United States, Spanish broadcasts will be on TUDN and ViX. English broadcasts will be on Paramount+, main CBS, and CBS Sports Network. OneSoccer holds the Canadian broadcast rights. Viewers in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean can watch matches on ESPN and Star+. In all non-CONCACAF regions, viewers can find games on the official CONCACAF app.

The Tournament: Teams in two groups of four nations will play the other three nations in their group. Teams will receive standard points based on results. The first and second tie breakers are goal differential and goals scored. The top two teams advance to a playoff structure. The second place nation in group A will play the first place nation in group B and vice versa. The winners advance to the final, and the losers advance to the third place match.

Road to the World Cup: CONCACAF has four guaranteed slots to the Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. The four teams that advance out of the group stage, top two in each group, earn those four automatic berths.

CONCACAF also has two more slots to an inter-continental playoff tournament that will serve as a test run in Australia and New Zealand for the main competition. The two third place teams will represent CONCACAF in the competition. Ten total teams qualify from across the globe with three teams advancing to the World Cup. Four seeded and six unseeded teams will each play two matches. The two host nations will participate as well in a friendly manner. This mini-tournament occurs in February 2023.

Road to the Olympics: CONCACAF has two guaranteed slots for the Summer Olympics 2024 in Paris. The winner of the CONCACAF W Championship earns an automatic berth to the Olympics. The loser of the final and the winner of the third place game will compete in a single playoff match in September 2023 for the second and final Olympic berth.

The Teams: Eight nations qualified for the CONCACAF W Championship. The top two teams in the confederation, Canada and the United States, earned an automatic berth. The other six teams are group winners from the CONCACAF W Qualifiers that took place in February and April 2022.

Group AGroup BHaiti (60)Canada (6)Jamaica (51)Costa Rica (37)Mexico (26)Panama (57)United States (1)Trinidad and Tobago (76)

FIFA rankings above are from the most recent release on June 17th, 2022.

The draw took place on April 19th, 2022. Teams drew from four pots of two based on the FIFA rankings from June 2021. The higher ranked team from each pot drew into group A, making group A the objectively tougher of the two groups. From a subjective standpoint, Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico are better than their rankings indicate, making this group even more challenging. The fourth-seeded team in group A, Haiti, could be viewed on the same ability level as Costa Rica, who are the second-seeded team in group B. The third seed in group A, Jamaica, beat out the second seed in group B, Costa Rica, and the second seed in group A, Mexico, for the third CONCACAF slot in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Subjectively, the weakest two teams in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago are in group B, but they could still catch teams off guard.

From a competitive standpoint, there are pros and cons for both being in the stronger and weaker groups. While the weaker group may offer an easier path to the playoff and a guaranteed World Cup berth, the weaker competition is less robust of a test for teams trying to evaluate and develop rosters. Additionally, members of the weaker group that advance will draw against a stronger opponent in the cross-group format, making the path to the Olympics more difficult.

Players to Watch: Canada’s Jessie Fleming took a huge step at the Tokyo Olympics and this season at Chelsea. The 24 year-old can play the “eight” or “ten” roles as a box-to-box or creative midfielder. Look for Fleming to set the tone and pull the strings offensively for Canada.

Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is a top five striker in the world and arguably the best available central striker in the entire tournament. The Jamaican international led the French D1 Arkema in scoring over players from powerhouses Lyon and PSG before moving to Manchester City last summer.

Forward María Sánchez terrorized defenders for multipe seasons at Tigres before permanently moving to the Houston Dash this past winter. Her one-on-one creative ability and pinpoint service make her a fan favorite at both clubs. Sánchez hopes to continue that form for Mexico this tournament.

Costa Rica’s Raquel “Rocky” Rodríguez is a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, consistently one of the best teams in the NWSL. The former NWSL Rookie of the Year is one of her nation’s leading scorers of all time including the first ever World Cup goal for Las Ticas. Her distribution and late entries into the box will be key for Costa Rica.

For the United States, Mal Pugh has been on a tear for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL. The forward is near the top in scoring and can score from anywhere on the pitch. Every time the ball touches her feet, it feels like magic is only a moment away.

Dark Horse: Haiti will surprise fans this tournament. They are a really solid side who have been playing together for a long time. Unfortunately, lack of funding from their federation has stunted their rise on the international stage.

For the U20 Women’s World Cup in 2018, Haiti beat out Canada and all other challengers to join Mexico and the United States as the CONCACAF representatives. They also performed surprisingly well. Scoring three goals in the tournament, they only lost to powerhouses Germany three to two and China two to one. They lost to Nigeria one to zero off a penalty goal. While they finished bottom of the group, the experience proved to be immense for the players.

One and a half years later, Fans may remember their match against the United States in the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics. After a Christen Press goal in the second minute, they held the Americans scoreless till the 67th minute. They displayed excellent defensive organization but did not just park the bus. They created multiple dangerous attacks in that time frame that had the US on their heels. In that tournament they only lost to Costa Rica by two and thrashed Panama, who are ranked higher than them, six to zero.

In qualifying this year, Haiti finished with a +44 goal differential while allowing zero goals against. This represents the highest goal differential among all groups in qualifiers including hosts Mexico. Forwards Roselord Borgella and Batcheba Louis scored eleven and eight goals respectively across four matches, with Borgella tied for the highest in qualifying.

At the club level, Haiti has multiple quality footballers that play in D1 Arkema in France and the American college system. Nérilia Mondésir is the most well-known player, and a major forward or attacking midfield contributor at Montpellier, which is always near the top of D1 Arkema. 18 year-old midfielder Melchie Dumornay is one of the brightest upcoming talents in the world. Currently playing for Reims in D1 Arkema, she recently received the title of NXGN 2022 best teenage player in the world. Borgella and Louis also play in D1 Arkema, both for Issy.

Unfortunately, due to their consistently low FIFA ranking and poor luck, Haiti received the toughest draw of all eight teams. In order to guarantee a World Cup slot, they need to finish higher than two of the three Jamaica, Mexico, and the United States. While this is possible because there are serious questions surrounding all three teams, the odds are not on their side. A much higher possibility is to finish above one of those teams and advance to the inter-continental playoff where they would have a serious shot for a play-in berth.

Predictions: Multiple teams have a serious claim for the title. Hosts Mexico will play in front of a home crowd at every match. Fans have shown at Liga MX Femenil matches that they can sell out stadiums and create an imposing atmosphere. Liga MX Femenil’s rapid rise and quick, crafty style will be difficult for other teams to prepare against.

The reigning Olympic gold medalists Canada seem to have the perfect blend of veteran leadership and young stars. Boasting possibly the best back six in the world including goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and defensive midfielder Quinn, their defensive organization and discipline are near-impossible to break down.

Striker Bunny Shaw is one of the best goal-scorers in the world. Leading the attack, Jamaica will always be a serious threat at any moment. In a single elimination format, all teams need is one moment to change a game.

Finally, the defending World Cup champions and number one ranked side United States will always be a serious contender for any tournament they enter. However, do not expect this tournament to be a breeze for the Americans. CONCACAF play is notoriously unpredictable. The team is also amidst an uncomfortable roster transition with many stars out with injury.

This author predicts Canada to defeat the United States in the final in a tough match that may go to penalties. Expect Mexico to win the third place match to join the United States in the playoff game to determine the final Olympic spot. Anticipate Costa Rica to earn the final automatic World Cup berth. With Jamaica and Haiti two of the next strongest teams, only one can advance to the inter-continental payoff because they are in the same group. This author predicts, way too early, Jamaica and Panama advance with Jamaica earning a World Cup bid in the playoff tournament.

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