If the United States Women’s National Team is to qualify for the next World Cup and Olympics, they now have the roadmap for how they will have to do so.
The CONCACAF W Championship, which for the first time will serve as a qualifying tournament for the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics, will take place from July 4-18, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.
The USWNT and Canada will automatically enter the W Championship while 30 other teams will battle it out for the final six spots in a qualifying tournament starting this week and running through April.
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Of the eight teams competing in the W Championship, the top four will automatically qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand through the expansion from 24 teams to 32. Two other CONCACAF teams will have a chance to qualify via an intercontinental playoff tournament against eight other teams from around the world.
The winner of the W Championship will also qualify directly for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The second and third-placed teams will participate in a playoff to be held in September 2023 for second place at the Olympics. Only two teams will represent CONCACAF at the Olympics.
For the USWNT, this is the first time they have had to qualify for a World Cup on foreign soil in nearly a decade. Mexico hosted the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament and there the USWNT suffered a surprise loss to Mexico, forcing the Americans to qualify via an intercontinental home-and-away game against Italy.
The previous two World Cup qualifying tournaments for the 2019 and 2015 events were held in the United States.
The USWNT has never failed to qualify for a World Cup or the Olympics.
The format of the CONCACAF W Championship will see the eight teams divided into two groups. The group stage will open with a round-robin group match before switching to a knockout format from the semi-finals. The 16 tournament matches will be played at two venues in Monterrey: the Estadio Universitario and the Estadio BBVA.
The tournament will make use of VAR, or video assistant referees, for the first time.
The USWNT is currently in camp for the SheBelieves Cup which kicks off on Thursday against the Czech Republic, New Zealand and Iceland. All US games will be shown on ESPN or ABC.