Copa America Centenario begins tonight when the U.S. men's national soccer team takes on Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. So what is this tournament all about and why should you even care?
First of all, the Spurs are not in the NBA Finals and this three-week long soccer tournament could be the perfect cure for some sports action in between Finals games, which by the way are on KSAT 12! See what I did there.
Second, this is the biggest soccer tournament to hit the states since the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. squad rocked awesome denim unis back then and sadly will not bring them back.
Last, but not least because soccer is awesome and FIFA is greatest video game ever created!
No, really, soccer can be fun to watch with a group of passionate fans and we have seen with the success of the Scorpions and now SAFC, San Antonio has its share of dedicated fans out there. So let’s answer some questions about this soccer thing.
Podcast below with SA Crocketteers President James Hope, who joined RJ Marquez to discuss Copa America and where to watch the games across town. Click here for direct link.
What is Copa America?
The Copa America is South America's soccer championship, but a special 100th anniversary tournament was scheduled for this year thus the “Centenario” name.
It will be the first to be played outside South America and will feature all 10 South American nations and six nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
So essentially for the first time in history we get to see the U.S. and Mexico matchup against South American powers like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile outside of the World Cup.
There are four groups with four teams and the top two nations in each group advance to the quarterfinals/knockout rounds.
The final will be held on June 26 at MetLife Stadium, the home stadium of the New York Giants.
Does this mean anything for the 2018 World Cup?
Nope, it’s independent and means nothing for qualification purposes for the upcoming World Cup.
All continents have similar tournaments including this summer’s highly anticipated Euro Cup in France.
Who and when do the U.S. and Mexico play?
The U.S. national team opens up against Colombia Friday night, then Costa Rica on June 7 and Paraguay on June 11. Mexico opens against Uruguay on Sunday, then Jamaica on June 9 and Venezuela on June 13.
Do the U.S. or Mexico have a shot to win this thing?
I’m a big US soccer supporter, but it will take a miracle for them to win or even make it the semifinals. They are in the toughest group and if they make it out, they will likely play Brazil in the quarterfinal/knockout rounds.
Mexico on the other hand has a good shot to advance and make a deep run. They are in an easier group, have a talented squad and will have a massive home-field advantage.
Who are the favorites?
If I had to rank them or place money I don’t have in Vegas, I would go: Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile…then maybe the U.S. I can dream right!
What’s going to be the big story besides U.S. and Mexico matches?
It’s all about Lionel Messi. He’s the biggest soccer star in the world besides Cristiano Ronaldo and unfortunately Neymar will not be playing for Brazil because of his obligations with the Olympic team.
Messi has yet to win a major international trophy with Argentina and the country has not won a major tournament since 1993, which is hard to believe.
Where do I watch this thing?
The full schedule is right here. Fox Sports and Univision have the TV rights, but I would encourage people to watch the matches at a soccer watch party across the Alamo City.
Yes, there are actually designated soccer restaurants and bars in San Antonio. The San Antonio Crocketteers, the city’s premier soccer supporters group, will host watch parties and other places like Freetail brewery and the Lion & Rose are fun locations to catch a match.