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CONCACAF unveils League of Nations for all members including U.S., Mexico

ESPN FC's Herculez Gomez explains why he was an outlier coming up in a flawed system where many talented U.S. prospects fall through the cracks.

CONCACAF is launching a new national team competition to begin play in September 2018 that will include the United States and Mexico.

The new CONCACAF League of Nations, which will be played on FIFA fixture dates in place of many friendlies, will feature all 41 member associations in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The exact format and schedule will be announced early next year.

It will be divided into three divisions based on "sporting level" with promotion and relegation between the divisions. The League of Nations will also serve as a qualifying competition for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and will feed into a ranking system that will be used for seeding in World Cup qualifying.

The competition is expected to primarily benefit smaller countries in the Caribbean and Central America who rarely play matches outside of official competitions like World Cup qualifying and regional tournaments.

"This is a watershed moment for CONCACAF. By focusing on football to provide all our teams with year-round, quality competition, the League of Nations platform means everyone wins," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said.

"This new tournament is highly beneficial to all our Member Associations and fans everywhere, since it provides significant opportunities to play important competitive matches with increased regularity throughout the year."

There is a question of how much countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the U.S. will get out of such a competition, as it would appear to further limit opportunities to play nations from other confederations.

But given the advent of a similar competition in Europe called the UEFA Nations League, as well as the fact that World Cup qualifying for South America will begin shortly after the 2018 World Cup concludes, those opportunities were already going to be limited.

"There will still be space for [intercontinental friendlies]," CONCACAF said in an FAQ accompanying the announcement. "In broader terms, the League of Nations aligns CONCACAF with the general movement in the world of international football, away from low-stakes friendly matches."

UEFA is also considering a Global Nations League that could invite all 223 members of FIFA's six continental confederations and take place every two years.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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