As hosts of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the United States, Canada, and Mexico will not participate in CONCACAF World Cup qualification.
Thus, the North American giants will be searching for high quality, high leverage games over the next three years to test themselves ahead of the all-important tournament in 2026.
The 2024 Copa America was the perfect solution, and CONCACAF came to an agreement with CONMEBOL to host the competition in the United States, with six North American teams invited to participate. But what six teams?
No CONCACAF teams were handed automatic qualification to the Copa America. Instead, they must qualify, so here’s how the U.S. and other North American countries can secure a spot in the coveted South American championship.
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The United States did not earn automatic qualification to the 2024 Copa America, despite being hosts.
Since traditional Copa America tournaments don’t have qualifying, instead slotting all 10 CONMEBOL nations into the competition proper, host qualification is not an established tradition.
Thus, with the tournament expanding to include six North American nations, all slots must be earned. To do so, teams must either reach the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League or win a play-in match.
The United States has been drawn against Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals, a two-legged matchup which will take place on November 16 and 20, 2023. Thus, victory in that aggregate matchup for either the U.S. or Trinidad & Tobago would send the winner into the semifinals, thereby qualifying that nation for the Copa America.
However, there is another route should disaster strike.
If the United States, ranked 11th in the world by FIFA, should be upset by 98th-ranked Trinidad & Tobago in November, they can still qualify for the Copa America, as CONCACAF made sure their top-tier sides were not at risk of being left out thanks to one bad result.
The four losers from the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinals will be paired up in two play-in games, with the two winners still earning qualification to the 2024 tournament.
The other three quarterfinal matchups are Mexico versus Honduras, Canada versus Jamaica, and Costa Rica versus Panama. Thus, should the U.S. lose to Trinidad & Tobago, they would face one of those three other losers from the remaining quarterfinal fixtures.
Those matchups will be single games which will take place in March of 2024.
So far, only the 10 CONMEBOL nations have been given qualification to the 2024 Copa America, while the other six slots will be determined by the CONCACAF Nations League and play-in games.
Four CONCACAF qualifiers will be secured after the Nations League quarterfinals in November, while the other two will be determined by the play-in matchups in March, 2024.
The 10 CONMEBOL nations are defending champions Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The eight CONCACAF nations vying for qualification are Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States. Six of those eight teams will reach the Copa America, while two will be left out.
No odds for the 2024 Copa America have been released as of yet, as sports books may be waiting for the tournament to draw nearer, or for most of the participants to be determined.