Having successfully hosted three previously Concacaf playoff events including the 2013, 2017, and 2019 Gold Cups, Denver has once again been selected to play host city, this time for Concacaf’s inaugural Nation Leagues Finals. The Finals will crown the first-ever champion of a competition that was created to provide high-quality competition and boost rivals between all 41 Concacaf Member Associations.
Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, home to the NFL’s Denver Broncos, will be the venue for the June 3-6 matches between regional men’s rivals including United States, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica.
The Finals were originally set for June 2020 but were rescheduled as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could not be happier that Denver was selected to host the inaugural Concacaf Nations League Finals at Empower Field at Mile High,” said Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission. “We’re always excited to showcase our world-class stadium and welcoming visiting soccer fans.”
The semifinals, third-place match, and final, will all be played in Mile High Stadium. The schedule has Honduras playing the United States, followed by Mexico playing against Costa Rica.
The semifinal matchups were determined by the outcome of Group Stage play in the fall of 2019. All four matches will take place during the first June FIFA match window. The semifinals will be played on June 3, followed by the third-place match, and the final on June 6.
Concacaf ranked the four “League A Group” winners to determine the semifinal matchups. The highest-ranked team plays the lowest-ranked team. The national teams’ final ranking and schedule is as follows:
- Mexico (12 pts, +10)
- Honduras (10 pts, +7)
- USA (9 pts, +12)
- Costa Rica (6 pts, +1)
June 3, 2021 – Semifinals:
- SF1: Honduras vs United States
- SF2: Mexico vs Costa Rica
June 6, 2021 – Third Place Match and Final:
- 3rd: Loser SF1 vs Loser SF2
- F: Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2
“The Concacaf Nations League includes all 41 of our Member Associations, making it a true celebration of our football, our region, and our unity as One Concacaf,” said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani. “The 2019 group stage was a huge success in delivering more competitive football for all men’s national teams across Concacaf. Now we can look forward to a great final four in the outstanding facility that is Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High, and to crowning a first-ever Concacaf Nations League champion.”
Tickets for the match will go on sale to the general public on Monday, April 26.
Fans interested in attending the matches in Denver should sign up at www.ConcacafNationsLeague.com for more information.
Concacaf said it will provide information regarding local and federal COVID-19 protocols which will need to be observed by attending fans, as well as the attendance cap for the venue. According to 9News, fan capacity will be set approximately 32,000 people, but a final decision on the numbers of tickets that will be available will be announced in the coming weeks.
What this means for the Colorado Rapids and Denver’s World Cup bid
With the U23 U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) not qualifying for the Summer Olympics, there is a good possibility that local fans might see Colorado Rapids’ Sam Vines, Kellyn Acosta, and Jonathan Lewis on the U.S.’s Nation Leagues Finals camp and team roster. All three were in the most recent USMNT camps. They have played in international friendlies and as well as in competitive matches, especially Vines and Lewis in the Concacaf Olympics Qualifying tournament in Mexico.
The Finals are expected to bring several of the senior USMNT players. In a recent meeting with the media, the team’s head coach Gregg Berhalter stated that a number of his Europe-based players — including Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Sergino Dest — would earn time off following the Nations League tournament to be fresh for World Cup qualifiers, which will commence in September.
The selection bodes well for the local Denver 2026 Bid Committee who has been promoting metropolitan Denver as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Games that will be played in 16 cities within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It will be the first time in World Cup history that three neighboring nations have hosted the games.
The United States has offered FIFA’s Selection Committee 17 cities to consider. Ultimately, 10 will be selected. Both Canada and Mexico have nominated three cities each. FIFA and the host city associations are expected to begin in-person tours and evaluations this July.
After the visits are completed, FIFA will formally announce the host cities in the three partnering nations.