Staff Roundtable: Copa America Predictions

The United States to host Copa America Centenario for the first time!

Today, history will be made as the United States host the Copa America Centenario for the first time! Over 16 countries will visit the U.S. in 10 host cities for a chance to win the Copa America Championship. This tournament will feature soccer legends like: Lionel Messi, Javier (Chicharito) Hernandez, James Rodriguez, Luis Suarez and many more!

With one change to the roster, the USMNT will be starting the tournament following a 4-0 victory over Bolivia at Children’s Mercy Park. A few weeks ago, it was officially announced three of Sporting Kansas City players: Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Soni Mustivar have been called up to join their nation’s rosters, respectively. The USMNT will kick off their tournament campaign against Colombia in Santa Clara, California at 8:30 pm CT.

During the intense build-up to this historic event, the Reporting KC staff took a few moments to discuss with one another about Copa America Centenario and their predictions.

What are your expectations for Copa America?

Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; The Copa America Cup is on display prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

RJ: I think Argentina wins the tournament. I’m also very excited to see the growth in the interest of soccer because of this tournament in the U.S.

Eric: I expect the big South American teams – Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia – to dominate. CONCACAF could put in a good showing through Mexico, Costa Rica, or (less likely) the United States, but I’m not terribly optimistic. I think the smart odds are on an all-South American final. But in terms of cultural expectations, this is big-the biggest men’s tournament the US has hosted since World Cup 1994, and I hope we throw a memorable party for the Centenario. I think we will.

Ellie: I think Chile will win it all.

Which international players and/or teams are you looking forward to playing?

RJ: Of course you have to excited to watch Argentina and Brazil, but I’m excited to see how Jamaica does actually. Jamaica did very well during the last Gold Cup and I think they are very capable of making it out of their group. I’m also excited to watch Kaka probably get his last run with the Brazilian national team. Also as a U.S. fan I’m of course excited to see Pulisic play.

Eric: Within the USMNT’s group, James Rodriguez and Colombia are the obvious answer, but outside of our group, I’m very interested to see how Haiti does – not just because our own Soni is likely to be anchoring its midfield, but because it has several exciting young players worth keeping an eye on. Jeff Louis is a well-regarded attacking midfielder for Caen in Ligue 1, and he’s only 23, and Stephane Lambese is a massive center back who has come up through PSG’s youth academy and currently plays for the Parisien’s B team, he’s 21. They’ve got a good enough core that, if they develop as they should, they could become a potential hexagonal opponent in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

What are your predictions for the USMNT?

RJ: If the U.S. are to get first place in their group then I think they have a very good chance of making to the semi final, if they are runners-up in their group they will likely have a very difficult match in the quarterfinal against Brazil. I do think they will also have a very tough time in the group stage because Costa Rica and Paraguay are not very easy teams. I give the U.S. a small chance to win the tournament as long as they are defensively very organized and try to hit teams on the counter.

Eric: I may just be full of piss and vinegar at this point, but I’m not banking on the US making it out of the group stage. To do this, they’d have to beat either Paraguay or Costa Rica and at a minimum tie the other (assuming they lose to Colombia, which is the probable outcome). Last year’s Gold Cup debacle showed that home field advantage doesn’t really count for much when your form has gone to pieces, and I’m not sure a 4-0 thrashing of a hapless Bolivia is enough evidence to weigh against the string of desultory results the USMNT has strung together under Klinsmann pretty much ever since the minute the 2014 World Cup ended.

Do you think there will be any additional cuts and/or additions to the U.S. squad before the tournament begins? If so, why?

RJ: If there’s any player I’d like to see get a call up it’d be Sebastian Lletget or Dax McCarty but I don’t think either really have a chance.

Eric: I hope not, because it would imply that there has been a serious injury. That said, I would have liked to see Tim Ream or Eric Lichaj brought in from England to play left back so that didn’t have to see Matt Besler become the latest guinea pig of Klinsi’s “let’s play as many guys out of position as possible” experiment. I get that left back is always a weak depth spot for the Yanks – despite getting called in as Timmy Chandler’s replacement, Edgar Castillo has probably used up his last chance with Klinsmann, and for good reason – but Ream and Lichaj were playing regularly in the Championship League and could have provided actual fullback depth at the Copa.

Schedule:

  • Group Matches: June 3-14
  • Quarterfinals: June 16-18
  • Semifinals: June 21-22
  • Third Place Match: June 25
  • Final: June 26th

The 16 participating countries have been split up into four groups:

Group A

  • USA
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Paraguay

Group B

  • Haiti
  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador

Group C

  • Jamaica
  • Venezuela
  • Mexico
  • Uruguay

Group D

  • Panama
  • Bolivia
  • Argentina
  • Chile

Are you traveling to any of the Copa America matches? Let us know on twitter!

Load Comments