CONCACAF has announced that they are changing the current format of 4 groups and four teams in each group. The number of teams competing in the tournament (24) will remain the same, except that they won’t have to go through the current process of preliminary qualifying. Instead the teams will go directly into the group stages and be placed in eight groups of 3.
The advantage of this system is that it decreased fixture congestion as teams that normally had to play qualifying matches don’t need to anymore and there are only four group stage matches instead of six.
I think this move is good from the standpoint of scheduling. MLS teams and FMF teams always have the question of whether or not they should rest their starters for league games. This way teams will be able to put their starters in for both competitions, as there is less of an issue of tiring out the players. So a good move by CONCACAF on that point.
On the other hand, there are going to be some reall bad teams in the group stages. Toronto FC had to beat Real Esteli to advance to the group stages. Should a team like Real Esteli really get a bye to the group stages? This may result in certain groups being really easy and certain groups being very tough. I’m not totally against this change though because of the advantages mentioned above.
Interestingly enough the article says: “Each group will contain either a Mexican or U.S club” – meaning that no U.S and Mexican club will be in the same group. Which means there will almost undoubtedly be four MLS teams in the finals.
So, again, more low quality games but more of an ability for teams to prioritize those games and play there starters.
This is also good for the Nutrilite Canadian Championship since it will mean an automatic entry for the winner of the tournament.