By Ryan Mayer
After the excitement of the Women’s World Cup last summer and the World Cup in 2014, this summer may seem like a bit of a lull in the soccer world to the casual fan. However, that’s far from the case as the US Men’s National Team will be playing in matches of consequence over the next couple weeks. It begins tonight when the US takes on Colombia to kick off the 2016 Copa America Centenario. What is it? How do you watch? Let’s answer those questions for you.
What is the Copa America Centenario?
It is the 100th anniversary of the first Copa America tournament held in 1916, a special tournament is being put on this year to honor that anniversary. Copa America is traditionally a South American (CONMEBOL) championship. This year’s tournament features 10 countries from the CONMEBOL federation and six teams from CONCACAF.
The countries involved are:
CONMEBOL (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela)
CONCACAF (Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, USA, Panama, Haiti)
The teams have been split into four groups where the teams will play round robin matches to determine who advances to the elimination stage. The United States is hosting the tournament, the first time that it has been held outside of South America.
When Does the USA play?
The United States starts play tonight against Colombia at 9:30 pm ET in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. They will also face Costa Rica (June 7th, Soldier Field, Chicago) and Paraguay (June 11th, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia).
How Can I Watch?
The matches for the US will all be aired on Fox Sports 1.
Is It The Same Roster As The World Cup?
No, Jurgen Klinsmann has made some big changes to the group since the 2014 World Cup. Players from 2014 not on the roster are DeMarcus Beasley, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Julian Green, Jozi Altidore, and Aron Johannsson. So who’s on the team you ask?
GK: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath
D: Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco, DeAndre Yedlin
MF: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Perry Kitchen, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, Graham Zusi
F: Clint Dempsey, Bobby Wood, Chris Wondolowski, Gyasi Zardes
Who is everyone talking about?
Well, a lot of attention is being paid (understandably) to the next “savior” of American soccer, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic. Pulisic became the youngest player to score for the US in their last friendly against Bolivia on May 28th.
That’s not the sole reason people are excited. Pulisic has performed well in his appearances with the national team recently after showing well for top German club Borussia Dortmund this season. Pulisic has become the new “hope” for many US soccer fans to be that next star player.
Outside of Pulisic, players like DeAndre Yedlin (remember him from the World Cup?) and Darlington Nagbe have caught the attention of fans in recent matches.
Who’s Colombia’s Best Player?
James Rodriguez. You may remember Rodriguez from the World Cup when he scored six goals in his team’s five matches. Rodriguez has since moved on to playing for Real Madrid for the last two seasons tallying 25 goals and 27 assists in 78 matches played. Rodriguez leads the group but watch out for fellow midfielder Juan Cuadrado and forwards Carlos Bacca and Roger Martinez.
Everything gets underway tonight at 9:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1. So, for those of you who became fans during the 2014 World Cup run, here’s a perfect opportunity to check in on the team once again as they play some top international competition.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.