The CONCACAF W Gold Cup: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What to Expect in the Final

With the inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup set to conclude Sunday, we take a look at how the tournament did in its first go-around — from the highs to the lows and everything in between. 

Any time a new tournament is introduced, a certain skepticism accompanies it. Questions arise around the competition’s purpose and execution, and rightfully so. After all, with the increasingly packed soccer calendar, adding more matches to the schedule should only be done so if it is absolutely necessary.

In the case of the CONCACAF W Gold Cup, it wasn’t the purpose that was in question — CONCACAF was indeed in need of a flagship international women’s tournament — but it was how it would be put together and executed that many were curious about.

As we prepare for the final between the United States and Brazil, we take a look at what we can expect during the momentous conclusion to the tournament, as well as what went right and wrong in the inaugural edition of the two-week spectacle.

The Final

Brazil and the U.S. have taken two wildly different routes to the final.

On one hand, Brazil has absolutely cruised through the tournament, outscoring its opponents by a 15-1 margin. The Canarinhas have been dominant, handily taking care of Argentina and Mexico in the knockout rounds by scores of 5-1 and 3-0 respectively.

Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s national team has made things a bit more difficult. A rough 2-0 loss to Mexico saw the Americans finish second in group A, making their road to the final more treacherous. A gutsy 3-0 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals set up a showdown against Canada that will be remembered for both the right and wrong reasons.

A water-logged pitch made for an incredibly sloppy match, with many notable figures in the game calling for it to be postponed or delayed until conditions could improve. Nonetheless, the show went on, and the chaotic match saw a pair of late equalizers from Canada — one in the 80th minute from Jordyn Huitema and a penalty from Adriana Leon as extra time expired to send the match into penalties.

USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher took things in her own hands from there, saving three Canada penalties while also converting her own attempt, a clinical finish into the bottom right corner.

The contrasting journeys of both the U.S. and Brazil set up what should be an incredibly entertaining final on Sunday in presumably improved conditions in San Diego. A win for the U.S. would stabilize what’s been a rocky stretch since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, while a victory from Brazil would be a statement win for a nation whose women’s team has been skyrocketing over the past few years.

Expect some grit, flair, and no love lost between these two incredibly talented sides.

The Tournament: What Went Right

The overall quality of play has been at a very high level at the 2024 W Gold Cup, as to be expected. With four of the top 25 FIFA-ranked women’s teams in the world participating, there has been brilliant moments and enthralling storylines wherever you look.


This tournament was the latest that has seen the two federations collaborate, with four South American teams participating. Brazil and Colombia were the two juggernauts, and their inclusion served well in bringing more eyes to the competition, as well as providing a platform to see matchups fans could get excited about.

The Gold Cup is also a very welcome addition of more meaningful games for the lower-ranked teams with fewer resources behind them. Both the exposure and experience of playing against some of the game’s best teams and players will be invaluable for many of the nations that will participate down the line.

What’s more, the growth of Latin American and Caribbean women’s football was on display again. While there were still a couple of blowouts to note, the level of competitiveness throughout was of a solid standard. On top of that, we still have top-quality teams that will eventually come in that missed out on this first tournament like Haiti and Jamaica.

The High Point (So Far)

What is a major tournament without at least one upset?

Mexico’s 2-0 thrashing of the United States represented the first time in nearly 15 years that the U.S. fell to their rivals to the south. Mexico showed bravery and grit in its game plan and were rewarded with one of the biggest results in the team’s history.

Coming into this game, Mexico was almost certainly assured a spot in the knockouts, and played like a team that knew it had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The result meant Mexico avoided the dangerous Colombians and secured a much more favorable route to the semifinals, although it would eventually fall to Brazil.

Room for Improvement


The first game of the knockout stages between Canada and Costa Rica kicked off in front of a worryingly empty stadium. Many had hoped the excitement of the quarterfinals and beyond would see an increase in crowd sizes, but this showed otherwise. For the most part, if the U.S. were not on, the turnout wasn’t great, and a lot of that, I believe, is down to how this tournament was marketed (or rather not marketed) by CONCACAF. Many in the region lamented the fact that the Gold Cup was scarcely advertised, and that it seemed very little effort was put into selling the event to the fans.

Kickoff Times

uswnt concacaf w gold cup

While it really couldn’t be helped with the tournament based on the West Coast, having weeknight games kick off that late may have been a contributing factor to the low numbers seen in some stadiums. One redeeming factor with this, to CONCACAF’s credit, was the availability of some games to be streamed live on YouTube for free.

Overall, the level of seriousness some federations took this tournament wasn’t at an all-time high, and that’s understandable. Any new tournament normally won’t have that prestige or allure that will incentivize teams and their star players to take time away from their clubs to participate.

However, the scheduling of the Gold Cup made it the perfect preparation for the top teams going into the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Gold Cup has been a great platform for some sneak peeks at what coaches might be thinking for Paris, as well as a spotlight for a few younger players to strut their stuff.

The first time an event of this size is put on will never be completely smooth sailing. Still, there have been more than enough strong points throughout this inaugural CONCACAF W Gold Cup to give credence to the opinion that it could well and truly be a success for years to come. For that to happen though, proper investment must be made by the organizing bodies to push their product, not only in their region but worldwide.

With the right push and timing, there’s no reason why the W Gold Cup could become the flagship tournament for the promotion of the game in the Americas and a success for years to come.

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