What's in store for USMNT in 2019?

The U.S. men's national team closed out its 2018 season with a 1-0 loss to Italy, finishing the year with three wins, five losses and three ties.

Attention will immediately turn to the announcement of a new head coach, which should come as soon as next week.

What will his first year be like?

U.S. Soccer announced the first game of 2019 -- a friendly against Costa Rica on Feb. 2 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. The game should be the second of the year under the new head coach and follow a January camp in Carson, California.

Besides the two friendlies around January camp, only two FIFA windows will be clear to play friendly games: March 18-26 and June 3-11.

The rest of the year will be dominated by the Gold Cup and new Concacaf Nations League.

Gold Cup. The 2019 Gold Cup will be played June 14-July 7, finishing with the final in Chicago the same day as the Women's World Cup final will be played at the Groupama Stadium outside Lyon and the Copa America final in Brazil.

Group D - United States 
June 18: Allianz Field, Saint Paul, MN
June 22: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
June 26: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS

The good news, though, is the tournament has been pushed up a month, allowing European-players to play before they take vacations, rather than like in 2015 when they arrived at the start of their pre-season camps.

That was one of the reasons -- though not the only one -- for the USA's poor showing at the 2015 Gold Cup -- fourth place behind Mexico, Jamaica and Panama -- that marked the beginning of the end for Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach.



Concacaf Nations League. The understand the Concacaf Nations League, think of the UEFA Nations League, whose group stage ended on Tuesday.

The 12 teams in League A will be divided into four three-team groups. They will play four games over six dates during the three windows in the fall of 2019: Sept. 2-10, Oct. 7-15 and Nov. 11-19. That would leave open two dates for friendlies like were available for England and Italy to play the USA, but those two games, if played, would likely have to played at home, given the regional commitments during the same window.

The winners will advance to the Concacaf Nations League final four in March 2020 and the last-place teams will be relegated to League B for the next competition.

The USA and the five other teams from the 2016-17 Hexagonal -- Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago -- are automatically qualified for the group stage in League A as well as the 2019 Gold Cup.

The top six teams in the giant single-table qualifying league involving the other 34 eligible Concacaf teams will enter League A -- and the top 10 teams will qualify to complete the 16-team Gold Cup.

That qualifying league consists of four games -- with opponents drawn from seeded pots to balance out the schedules -- and will end during the March 2019 FIFA window.

As of right now, the top six teams are all perfect with three wins: Curacao, Haiti, Canada, Cuba, Jamaica and Martinique. (Haiti hosts Cuba on Matchday 4.)



Under-20 World Cup. One other competition that the next national team coach will need to take into account is the 2019 Under-20 World Cup May 23-June 15 in Poland. The USA, which is already qualified for the finals, has four U-20 players who have played on the senior national team in 2018: Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah and Jonathan Amon.

If any of them went to the Under-20 World Cup, it's unlikely they would play in the Gold Cup. One nuance to note: their European clubs are required to release them for the Gold Cup but they aren't required to release them for the Under-20 World Cup.

-- One other competition that could impact the planning of the senior team in 2019 is Concacaf under-23 qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

It would be held in the October window if Concacaf's schedule four years ago were any indication. The top two teams will qualify for Tokyo 2020 -- down from 2.5 teams in 2016. Again, clubs aren't required to release players for what is an age-group competition under FIFA rules.

One further complication to the October 2019 window for the Concacaf Nations League or Olympic qualifying is that window would fall just before the start of the MLS playoffs if they were reformatted to be played entirely between the October and November windows.

USMNT: U-23-eligible players
Christian Puliisic
Tyler Adams

Cameron Carter-Vickers
Weston McKennie
Tim Weah
Erik Palmer-Brown
Antonee Robinson
Keaton Parks
Josh Sargent
Luca de la Torre
Jonathan Amon
Reggie Cannon

2 comments about "What's in store for USMNT in 2019?".
  1. Bob Ashpole, November 21, 2018 at 7:45 a.m.

    Will be lots to write about in 2019.

  2. John Soares, November 21, 2018 at 2:31 p.m.

    What genious schedules THREE finals for on the same day.
    I understand it's different organizations, but it's the womens's WORL CUP.
    Where is FIFA when you need it?

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