We have 2024 W Gold Cup groups!

The draw for Concacaf's premier reborn women's international tournament took place on Monday and 15 teams learned their route to a possible trophy.

We have 2024 W Gold Cup groups!

Oh, a cup draw. There’s nothing quite like it.

I was listening to the men’s FA Cup third-round draw the other day on the radio and my wife popped in to ask “What on earth was I listening to”?

Numbers. Team names. Random facts. Pauses. Rattling. Exposition. I love it.

You never know what you’re going to get with a cup draw. And that hope, that daydream of endless possibilities and randomness, is honestly one of my favourite things about football.

Now, to Concacaf

So, there I was on a Monday evening. Half cooking sweet potatoes for supper, half an eye on the Concacaf W Gold Cup draw happening down in Miami, Florida. Susannah Collins was on hosting duty, holding it down in a studio that looked a bit like she was trapped inside a television. She was aided by a trio of legends and a Concacaf suit.

While it is quite agitating, I’ve also become immune/affectionate towards the nonsense that delays a cup draw from taking place. Collins and Co. shouted out numerous sponsors, played some lo-fi highlights over terrible guitar solos, and chatted their way through nearly 20 minutes of chaff before actually getting to the balls. It was a waste, but also football heritage.

Sure enough, though, we got to the pots. And with the top seeds all placed in their groups, the first proper ball out of the hat did not disappoint.

Cheyna Matthews gave a quick magician’s twirl of the spheres and drew one. Cracking the plastic egg in two, and there it was. The second team in Group A to meet the United States. You love to see it. Mexico. El Tri.

The brilliant and recently retired Jamaican international Cheyna Matthews drawing the pots for the 2024 W Gold Cup | Courtesy of CBS

Loathe am I to compare the men’s and the women’s games, but Mexico vs. the USA (sound the alarms) is a really spicy meeting. And while the women’s hasn’t historically had the same drama, it feels like over the next few years we might see this derby develop a bit. Especially with the number of Mexican-Americans, on both sides, growing.

These nations are intertwined. And football plays a part in where the two meet. Culturally speaking.

With the most recent two stateside meetings between Mexico and the USA occurring in Connecticut, the fact that this match will also take place in Southern California is so exciting. We’re overdue some proper Mexican-American support showing up to back this up-and-coming national team. The tailgate will be special.

The 2024 W Gold Cup draw in full

Courtesy of Concacaf

Group A: USA, Mexico, Argentina, Guyna/Dominican Republic

Group B: Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Haiti/Puerto Rico

Group C: Canada, Costa Rica, Paraguay, El Salvador/Guatemala

Courtesy of Concacaf

What’s your favourite group? Will you be trying to go to any of the games? Leave a comment and let me know.

Some thoughts & notes

  • The city of Houston got a rough deal. With groups A and B both being played in Southern California, I was excited for a bit of variety by having Group C hold it down in Southeast Texas.

    But the draw didn’t really deliver. Canada, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and El Salvador/Guatemala will be a tough sell for neutrals. It could have been Canada, Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador/Guatemala. Oof. That would’ve exploded.

    If El Salvador can make it through the preliminary stage and into the group then that could bring some special nights. But otherwise, this is going to be a wonderfully weird group with potentially some sparse ticket sales.

    In terms of quality, I would also be shocked to see any of the Group C teams go far in this tournament. Even Canada will be hard-pushed to make the final, and will find serious competition in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia.
  • The USA are still the favourties. Yes, it doesn’t matter what transition they are going through. This team is still very good and when it plays at home it is even more dominant. It would be surprising if the USA didn’t make the final. Once there, anything can happen in 90 minutes.
  • Harsh tokes for Panama. If Haiti makes it out of the prelims, then Panama will likely be the consensus pick to finish bottom of Group B. There’s more investment in this team than others in the region and more continuity at head coach. But it feels like, through either bad luck or lack of execution, Panama is struggling to level up. The 2024 W Gold Cup might not be their breakthrough.
  • Could Brazil and Colombia struggle without European-based players? With the 2024 W Gold Cup taking place between Feb. 17th and March 10th, there’s a lot of confusion over how many players will be released from their clubs outside of the mandated all-confederation FIFA window (Feb. 19th - Feb. 28th). Especially for those who will be playing during the European calendar, there’s a chance that some nations do not have their full squads available. The most talented teams in South America stick out as potentially the worst affected.
  • Rotation. Rotation. Rotation. There are just three days (two “rest” days) between every match at the 2024 W Gold Cup. If a team makes it to the final, that will be seven matches played in 18 days. If a team from the prelims makes it to the final, that would be eight matches in 21 days.

    All this is to say, teams will need to be really careful with how they load their players. For those coming from leagues that don’t play during the winter, this will be during the pre-season. Pushing players too much when their fitness levels are not at an optimum could be dangerous.

    I could see head coaches planning on rotating out almost an entire team between group-stage matches. There’s also the advantage of getting squad players minutes in a tournament environment. Something that isn’t always achievable at a World Cup.

    At this time, it’s hard to know exactly what the intensity is going to be like in this competition. Right now, what it means to the players and the fans is largely undefined.

    Some may see it as a warm-up. A dress rehearsal for the Olympics. Others may see it as the end goal. Their cup final. Their give-it-all moment.

    Either way, we’ll be watching every minute.