February 21, 2016
By Frank Dell'Apa
Klinsmann: U.S. group in Copa America Centenario 'doable'
Soccer News Net Contributing Editor
NEW YORK -- The Copa America Centenario will kick off with the U.S. meeting Colombia at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., June 3, organizers announced during the official draw at the Hammerstein Ballroom Sunday night.
The U.S. will then play against Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago June 7 and Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia June 11. Game times have not been announced for the event, which will be held outside South America for the first time.
This is expected to be the biggest soccer tournament in the U.S. in terms of attendance and television exposure since the 1994 World Cup and the biggest international sporting event in the U.S. since the Salt Lake City Olympics. More than 2 million spectators are anticipated for the 32-match schedule June 3-26.
“I think the next couple weeks people really will get aware of what’s coming this summer,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It’s an avalanche, it’s huge, the Copa America in the United States after having the World Cup. And I think it will really get all the soccer people excited and they’ll all want to be part of it. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to show again that the game is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and this will give the game, again, a huge boost in the United States.”
Klinsmann remained optimistic about the chances of the U.S., despite being placed in one of the tournament’s most competitive groups.
“Obviously, it’s a difficult group, no doubt about it, but it’s doable,” Klinsmann said. “We had a similar kind of scenario in Brazil and we went through, so now we start with Colombia right away instead of Ghana.
“Colombia is one of the top teams in South America, no doubt about it. Paraguay is strong, Costa Rica we know. We start right on our toes with the opening whistle in Santa Clara – it’s exciting.
“We’ll do everything to prepare very thoroughly for Colombia. Now, it’s good to know the teams, we can reach out and put together the scouting report, about all their strengths, weaknesses, all the individual players, get their homework done and then prepare. It’s exciting. We played them (Colombia) 1½ years ago in London and we had them right on the edge and then we gave an easy goal away right at the end of the game. It was an even game. So, it’s going to be cool.”
“Would you like an easier group? Yeah, maybe on paper. But then again no group is easy so we’ll take it the way it is. We’ve done the same with Brazil and we’ll do it now, too, we’ll go out there and give it a go. I mean, the objective is difficult to say. But, definitely, getting out of the group, that’s the objective, getting out of the group, even if it’s not easy. And then, we’re going to go, and that’s what we said after the experience in Brazil: we have to learn how to win knockout games. And no better way to start than in Copa America.”
Uruguay, which hosted and won the initial Copa America in 1916, opens play against Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., June 5. The Uruguayans have won 15 Copa America titles, one more than Argentina. The Argentinians open play against defending champion Chile at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., June 6.
Eight-time champion Brazil debuts against Ecuador at the Rose Bowl June 4.
“We all want to see the best players from South America,” Klinsmann said. “We can’t wait to have James Rodriguez here, Messi, Neymar, all these wonderful players, showcasing themselves here in the United States. They all have to come with their best teams.”
COPA AMERICA GROUPS
Group A: United States (A1), Colombia (A2), Costa Rica (A3), Paraguay (A4)
Group B: Brazil (B1), Ecuador (B2), Haiti (B3), Peru (B4)
Group C: Mexico (C1), Uruguay (C2), Jamaica (C3), Venezuela (C4)
Group D: Argentina (D1), Chile (D2), Panama (D3), Bolivia (D4)