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SOCCER

Drawn in by the Copa America Draw

By Jose Romero - Feb 21, 2016

OK fine, CONCACAF and FS2. You won. 

Your stage show/celebration of the Official Draw of the Copa America Centenario in New York was on the corny side. Your musical performances were from people I wasn't familiar with, though the second song was kinda catchy . Your co-hosts weren't all that spunky. I'm pretty sure you didn't show any footage of the town where I live, Phoenix, in that video of the 10 game sites. 

Yes, our stadium in Glendale has a roof. It's silver. It's kind of in the middle of not much, well outside of downtown Phoenix. And we have a lot of desert and cacti and rocks and mountains. I undertstand I guess. But we pack the joint when El Tri comes to town, and that is why, no doubt, we got selected to host some matches.

But I was already excited for the tournament coming this summer, so no over-the-top production of a bunch of balls full of team names drawn into four groups was going to be that bad. I've watched World Cup draws. It is what it is. 

It was nice to see a guy I have met before, Jurgen Mainka, the new Deputy General Secretary of CONCACAF. Mainka was the head of the New York Red Bulls media relations department not so long ago, and he's big time now. He's perfectly bilingual and did a nice job running the draw. 

They also trotted out a couple of legends of the game, the two that stood out to me being former Mexico goalie Jorge Campos, who played the position with flair, and another electric player, Colombia's Carlos "Pibe" Valderrama. 

After about 40 minutes of stuff, the actual draw began. The four main powers, well actually three plus the host nation USA, headlined each group. 

When all of the balls containing team names were picked, the groups were formed. Argentina had to be thrilled to have Panama and Bolivia in its group plus rival Chile, the other good team in that four. Brazil got Haiti, Ecuador and Peru, which is the easiest group. 

Which meant that Mexico and the U.S. had the most difficult groups. El Tri ended up with Venezuela and Jamaica. The USMNT led the Group of Death with Costa Rica, Paraguay and mighty Colombia. 

The Americans might have a hard time making it out of that group. Colombia and Costa Rica were very good in the most recent World Cup. Mexico should advance, but Uruguay could end up the winner in Group C with Jamaica and Venezuela likely the bottom two.

Brazil's group is laughable. Ecuador was a World Cup team but the Selecao should breeze through group play.

And while the draw gave Phoenix an Ecuador-Peru matchup that isn't likely to draw big -- though Ecuador was in the 2014 World Cup -- it did place one of the marquee matchups of Copa America at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mexico takes on Uruguay, the land of such biting superstars as Luis Suarez and scorer Edinson Cavani of mighty French club Paris Saint-Germain, on June 5. 

Soccer fans are in for a major treat. Those who get to see Colombia will enjoy their fun soccer and talented players. James Rodriguez, a World Cup star figures to be in Copa America. Not mention Lionel Messi and all of Argentina's stars, and Neymar of Brazil. 

We'll be there. 

 

 

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