2016 is shaping up to be a great soccer year. Outside of the World Cup, it doesn’t get any better.
You’ve got the Euro 2016 – the world’s second best international tournament – and the centennial edition of the Copa America, to be hosted by the USA, both coming up in June.
The inclusion of the United States and Mexico in this iteration of the Copa America elevates the tournament “worth a watch” to “most important competition of the year” for American soccer fans.
Traditionally, the Copa America has been exclusively for Central and South American teams, but the lure of big corporate sponsors and major network coverage brought the tournament stateside for its 100th anniversary.
While the commercialization of the beautiful game certainly has its thorns (I’m looking at you, Qatar, and your hot ass country full of dead slaves), the proliferation of soccer into mainstream American culture has been a blessing for fans.
Here are the dates you need to know:
June 3rd: USA vs. Colombia in Santa Clara
June 7th: USA vs. Costa Rica in Chicago
June 11th: USA vs. Paraguay in Philadelphia
Colombia should be the USA’s toughest match in group play, on paper at least.
The Colombians went deep in the 2014 World Cup, and they did so without team captain and chief goal-scorer Radamel Falcao.
In other groups, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay are the headliners to watch. Look for those teams to be in medal contention at the end of the tournament.
In my opinion, South Americans play the most attractive football anywhere.
Their top export, little dribbling wizards – the Messis, Neymars, and Sánchezes of the world – dazzle fans on seven continents.
Even scientists in Antarctica bootleg streams on their jenky, no-polar-bear-having Antarctica-net. I mean, what else are you going to do on that big shitty ice cube?
What I’m trying to say is that the South Americans play with an undeniable passion that bleeds onto the field.
It’s a rare opportunity to see the world’s best playing real matches on American soil.
Don’t squander it come June.