The United States men’s national soccer team has learned who it will be facing in the first phase of this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
The Americans are faced with yet another tough draw (which has become a custom in recent years) and have been placed in Group A along with Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. The draw for this year’s tournament was announced earlier Sunday evening in New York City.
The 100th anniversary of the Copa America will be hosted by the United States and is the first time in the tournaments history that it will be hosted outside of South America.
The tournament will be held as part of an agreement between the South American football confederation (CONMEBOL) and the football confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) as a special edition cup celebrating 100 years of international continental football competition in-between the usual four-year cycle, which will feature an expanded field of 16 teams (10 from CONMEBOL and six from CONCACAF) rather than the usual 12.
Due to Chile winning the 2015 Copa America, the winner of this summer’s Copa America Centenario will not recieve a bid for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The tournament’s first game will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on June 3 and feature the United States against one of the most talented teams in South America, Colombia, who is led by Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.
The event is a great opportunity for American sport fans to gain better exposure to the world sport of soccer. According to ESPN, Argentinian great Lionel Messi– a five time Ballon d’Or winner–has already committed to playing in this summer’s tournament and organizers hope his decision will influence other top stars like Brazil’s Neymar and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez to commit in a tournament that will include 10 venues across the United States and run from June 3 thru 26.
There will be four groups with four teams in each group in this year’s cup with the top two teams of each group after the first round of matches advancing to the quarterfinals. The cup’s tournament page has announced that the semifinal matches will take place in Houston and Chicago, while the championship will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (home of the New York Jets & Giants).
Prior to the June tournament, The U.S. has a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala; the first on the road on March 25 and the next four days later back home in Columbus, Ohio.
Realistically, the United States may stand a chance in advancing in this summer’s tournament despite their poor play in 2015. They will have home field advantage in every game they play and can feed off their performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where they faced a tougher group and despite being an underdog in nearly each of their first round matches, managed to move on to the next round.
The four groups drawn for this year’s Copa America are listed below:
[AP Photo/Craig Ruttle]