With the Concacaf W taking place starting on Monday in Monterrey, it’s worth taking a look at the eight teams who will be vying for the four direct spots and two play-in spots for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as well as two spots in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.
This is the toughest top-to-bottom that Concacaf has been in recent memory, and any team that makes it out of this will have earned their place.
Why they’ll win: No one has won more than the United States. They’re the reigning back-to-back World Cup champions, however they’re also coming off of a disappointing showing at the Olympics where they earned a bronze medal. They will look to redeem themselves in the upcoming 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics, and this tournament is the key to it all and they know it. The US has some of the best players in the world playing professionally in arguably one of the best professional leagues in the world, and this has historically been their tournament to win.
Why they won’t: Hubris. This team seems truly unprepared to face quality opposition in front of a hostile crowd. Despite everyone else in the confederation raising their level, the US has been over-reliant on a core group of players, most of whom like Catarina Macario, Crystal Dunn, and Julie Ertz are unavailable due to injury or pregnancy. The US also doesn’t play often outside of the US, playing just five friendlies outside of the US since the start of 2020. They haven’t played a match in México since the World Cup Qualifying Third Place match against Costa Rica in November of 2010, which was on the heels of a 2-1 loss to México. Only Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe are still around from that team.
Why they’ll win: México has seen steady improvements in its national team program since the inception of Liga MX Femenil in 2017 and seem poised for a breakout year. Last year they beat Olympic gold medalists Canada and drew them in friendlies, and played several high profile countries such as Slovakia, Spain, Japan, Colombia, and their northern neighbors. They also dominated play in the Concacaf W Qualifiers, beating their four opponents by a combined score of 34-0. They’re also the hosts, and will have their passionate fans in attendance at games in both Estadio BBVA and Estadio Universitario (El Volcán).
Why they won’t: As good as they looked in qualifying, their toughest test was Puerto Rico, who are still miles behind. There’s also the two friendlies they played against the 2020 Olympic bronze medalists, losing each of the two matches 4-0. They simply haven’t proven they can consistently win against tough opponents when it counts, and haven’t made the World Cup since 2015 or the Olympics since 2004.
Why they’ll win: Like México, Jamaica is a team and federation that has been building a winning program for a while. Jamaica breezed through a rather difficult group during Concacaf W Qualifying, winning their four games by a combined 24-2 including a 5-1 defeat of upstart Dominican Republic. They have one of the best players in the world in Manchester City forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, and a supporting cast of players playing professionally in England (Rebecca Spencer, Jade Bailey), Scotland (Chantelle Swaby, Kayla McCoy), the NWSL (Allyson Swaby, Havana Solaun, Satara Murray, Sydney Schneider), and in the amateur ranks of the NCAA system in the US (Olufolasade Adamolekun, Jody Brown, Jayada Pelaya, Kalyssa Vanzanten), they could easily surprise a lot of people.
Why they won’t: While the US and México have been playing friendlies and working out the bugs in their system to one degree or another, Jamaica hasn’t played since the Concacaf W Qualifiers, and hasn’t played a friendly since a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica in October of 2021. The team is also always at loggerheads with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who has ceded most of the responsibility of funding the program to Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley. This will be the first time they’ve played under manager Lorne Donaldson, who was appointed head coach after former coach Hue Menzies resigned due to a pay dispute with the JFF.
Why they’ll win: No team was more dominant during the Concacaf W Qualifying than Haïti, who won their four games by a mind-bending 44-0 aggregate, including a 21-0 flogging of the British Virgin Islands. They’ve played two friendlies since against Costa Rica, splitting the series in Costa Rica losing 2-1 before winning 4-2 in the second match. Most of their players play in France, like Nérilla Mondésir with Montpellier, Roseline Éloissaint of Nantes, Tabita Joseph with Brest, Batcheba Louis and Roselord Borgella of Issy, and Melchie Dumornay and Kethna Louis of Stade de Reims (where they’re teammates of México’s Emily Alvarado). At 29, Borgella is the oldest player on the squad, which is utterly terrifying in terms of the potential of this team.
Why they won’t: They haven’t really beaten anyone. Costa Rica is a moderately challenging side in Concacaf, and they only managed to split the series. Every other team in this group will present a much stiffer challenge than the Ticas did, And while Haïti’s youth is an asset, their lack of experience, especially in high pressure matches against high-profile opponents, may prove to be their undoing.