The road to the 2015 Gold Cup and 2016 Copa América Centenario begins in the United States.
The Central American Football Union (UNCAF) announced on Tuesday that it will hold the Copa Centroamericana in the US during 10 days in September (3-13) to celebrate UNCAF’s upcoming 25th anniversary and serve as a qualifying process for CONCACAF's marquee competition.
The 2014 Central American Cup will decide up to five teams that will qualify for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the top four finishers guarenteed a spot and the fifth pitted against the fifth-place finisher in the 2014 Caribbean Cup. The champion of the 2015 Gold Cup will then participate in a play-in match against the United States, the 2013 champion, for a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
There is a massive reward for the winner as well, with the champion granted a place in the recently-announced Copa América Centenario 2016, also be played in the United States. The tournament will include two teams who will participate in next month's World Cup in Brazil: Costa Rica and Honduras.
Costa Rica are the current Central American Cup champions and have lifted the trophy a record seven times. Honduras are next with three titles, while Guatemala and Panama have won one each. Belize, El Salvador and Nicaragua round out the list of participants.
The Central American Cup has been contested 12 times, starting in 1991. Costa Rica and Honduras have each hosted it three times, while it has been played in El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama twice.
The match dates have been selected to coordinate with FIFA’s international calendar, meaning all teams will have their full complement of players. Host cities are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.