CONCACAF announced yesterday it is discontinuing its participation with COMNEBOL regarding the Copa Sudamericana. CONCACAF will continue to send teams to the more prestigious Copa Libertadores. “We regret that Mexico’s Copa Sudamericana designees Monterrey and Puebla will not participate in the tournament due to CONCACAF’s decision,” CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer said. “However, we hope that both teams will have opportunity to participate in future CONCACAF competitions.” This is surely a disappointment to Puebla who would have participated in their first COMNEBOL event. CONCACAF however has stepped up its game with the Champions League and will continue to use Interliga to qualify teams for the Copa Libertadoras. This certainly helps MLS and SUM as the one way through to a South American competition from CONCACAF runs through an MLS/SUM run event.
CONCACAF has given the US a special exemption to expand the Gold Cup squad to 30 members due to the tight turnaround the national team faced.”In light of the consecutive competitions, the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup, with the objective of providing the best performance possible for the public, and in recognition that the back-to-back tournaments strain players and their clubs, CONCACAF will give permission to any team who also is participating in the Confederations Cup in the same year to enlarge their roster to 30 from the 23 already permitted,” CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer said.
“This year, we have the Confederations Cup ending just five days before the start of the Gold Cup. This allowance will be extended to any team in the future that finds itself in the same situation.”
While this works out well for the USA and avoids the situation faced in 2005 by Mexico who sent an awful team to the Gold Cup after playing in the Confederations Cup, this is sure to irk the other participants in the tournament who had congested schedules including Central America and Caribbean qualifying for this event coupled with World Cup qualifying.
It is also worth noting that Mexico is once again sending a watered down squad to the Gold Cup despite not qualifying for this summer’s Confederations Cup. It seems that the FMF will only send a serious “A” team to the Gold Cup when a berth in the Confederations Cup is actually on the line for the winner. CONCACAF should take some action towards the FMF to ensure they send a squad with more international experience to the regional championship. (The emphasis of the FMF on COMNEBOL tournaments such as Copa America over the Gold Cup has also been disappointing from the CONCACAF perspective.) This having been said, the inclusion of Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela along with an aging Gerrado Torrado as well as an out of form Omar Bravo still make Mexico among the teams to beat despite the lack of international pedigree of the remainder of the named squad.