If you were expecting the broadcast of the Copa America Centenario draw to kick off and get right down to business, well then this was probably the first live draw for a major FIFA tournament you’ve ever watched. Right from the get go we were treated to talks of ticket sales and some pointless musical acts which I believe served to distract us from the fact that they needed to fill an hour of TV programming for a draw that should have taken about 10 minutes. If CONCACAF and CONMEBOL were trying to hide the true purpose of this tournament behind the mask of “a celebration of 100 years of Copa America” they did a poor job.
It turned out, the spectacle of the draw was a great metaphor for what the Copa America was all about. It will feature the coming together of soccer nations, some entertainment, but mostly it’s about making money (seriously, they had two different discussions about ticket sales).
As for the actual draw, well it couldn’t have gotten much worse for the United States.
As was already pre-determined (so that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL could pre-plan their games and thus maximize ticket sales) the four teams from Pot 1 (USA, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina) were already pre-determined and pre-drawn into specific groups.
Joining the US in Group A will be Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay, which has quickly been labeled the “Group of Death.” If you’re a fan of the USMNT, you must be feeling like this is the worst draw you could have gotten. In truth the US probably are better off with Colombia rather then Uruguay, or Chile, but it’s not exactly like any USMNT fans are dancing about facing Colombia either.
“The objective remains the same and that’s to get out of the group.” US manager Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters after the draw. “This is what the Copa America is all about.”
A difficult group is nothing new to Jurgen Klinsmann or the USMNT. The team was drawn into what many people believed was the toughest group at the 2014 World Cup when they were pitted against Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. Very few people picked the US to advance out of the group but the team did just enough to get by, and should have done better against Portugal. The US was also drawn into what was considered the Group of Death in the 2006 World Cup (with worse results) along with the 2002 World Cup which saw them advance from the group.
Should the US manage to finish second in the group, which is more likely scenario should they advance, things will not exactly get any easier. The second place team from Group A will face the first place team from Group B in East Rutherford, which will likely be Brazil who have been gifted a group of Ecuador, Haiti, and Peru. This is by far considered the easiest group in the tournament.
At the end of the day, the onus is on the United States. They will be the home team in every match they play. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. While the US is unbeaten in their last 15 home games against Costa Rica, the last one was a 1-0 win that came amidst a blizzard in Denver during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. You certainly can’t count on getting weather like that when the two teams meet again at Chicago in June.
If the US play up to the potential that we know they could play at (think wins over Germany, the Netherlands, a should have been win against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup) they have as good of a chance as anyone at getting out of the group. The issue right now is the US is coming off their worst year in quite some time. If they carry their 2015 form into this summer, it will be “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night” for the USMNT at the Copa America Centenario.
Here is the complete draw:
Group A Group B Group C Group D
United States Brazil Mexico Argentina
Colombia Ecuador Uruguay Chile
Costa Rica Haiti Jamaica Panama
Parguay Peru Venezuela Bolivia