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For the USWNT, Gold Cup is about ideas and execution as much as results

An influx of new players and an ongoing coaching transition make the Gold Cup more of a testing ground than a must-win tournament for the USWNT months ahead of the Olympics

USWNT interim coach Twila Kilgore
Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

The first edition of the Concacaf W Gold Cup is an enigma. Is it truly the confederation’s championship event? There was already a “Concacaf W Championship” played in 2022, which was really just qualifying for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

Compounding the confusion is that four of the 12 teams in the event are from outside the confederation; Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay are guest teams from South America. The two confederations have collaborated in similar ways frequently on the men’s side, so it isn’t unprecedented or all that unusual. It just leaves lingering questions: What does this tournament mean? How should we evaluate it? Let’s zoom in on the answers from a United States women’s national team perspective.

First, a trophy is on the line to won, a common refrain of players and coaches. Even in this precarious state of transition, the U.S. is heavily favored to win all three games in the group against Argentina, Mexico and either Guyana or Dominican Republic (who will compete in a play-in game). A prospective quarterfinal may or may not bring a more significant challenge, depending on how teams fare in the group stage. (Credit to Concacaf for a unique reseeding format for the quarterfinals.)

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