The format of the tournament was changed beginning with the 1998 tournament and ending with the 2007 tournament. In the five tournaments during that time the top eight teams in the region were divided into two groups of four, each group hosted by a separate nation, and the top two sides from each group were qualified to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. There was no championship round within the CONCACAF region. The tournament served solely to qualify the four allotments given to CONCACAF by FIFA for the U-20 World Cup.
Beginning with the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament, the CONCACAF region returned to a championship-style tournament in which all four semifinalists qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.  The reintroduction of a championship round was done to reinvigorate to competition.