Copa America 2024 Highlights Soccer Excellence in the United States

Copa America 2024 will see South America’s best soccer teams, including Brazil and Argentina, compete across 12 U.S. cities. This prestigious tournament promises thrilling matches and showcases the region’s rich soccer history.

Copa America is being held in the United States. It is the longest-running continental soccer competition, one that has played host to some of the greatest legends of the game, including Lionel Messi, Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Neymar.

This summer, across 12 American cities and 14 stadiums, South America’s finest—including Brazil, Uruguay, and a Messi-led Argentina—will compete again to take the ‘Champions of South America (and Others)’ title. To round out the numbers, the United States, Mexico, and a few other North and Central American countries have also been invited to join the fun.

The 16-team tournament will begin with four groups of four teams. After each team has played their group opposition once, the top two from each group will advance to the knockout stages. During the group phase, teams earn three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. The knockout stage consists of three rounds: the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final. In this phase, if the scores are tied after 90 minutes, the match goes into extra time, and if still level, it is decided by penalty kicks.

This year’s tournament will be hosted in various U.S. cities, including Miami, East Rutherford, Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta, Kansas City, Arlington, Houston, Austin, Glendale, Las Vegas, Inglewood, and Santa Clara. The final will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, home of the Miami Dolphins.

The groups for this year’s Copa America are as follows:

Group A: Argentina, Peru, Chile, Canada

Group B: Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica

Group C: USMNT, Uruguay, Panama, Bolivia

Group D: Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

A Rich History of Brilliance and Drama

Copa America has a storied history filled with brilliance and drama. First held in 1916, it is the oldest continental soccer competition. Historically, it has seen fierce rivalries and iconic moments. The last time it was held in the United States was in 2016 for Copa America ‘Centenario,’ celebrating the tournament’s 100th anniversary. That tournament ended painfully for Messi, who lost in a penalty shootout to Chile, yet it was a moment that endeared him to many when he broke down in tears on the pitch.

Uruguay and Argentina have dominated the tournament’s history, each boasting 15 titles. Uruguay, despite its small population of around 3.5 million, has consistently performed well, winning six of the first nine tournaments. Argentina, on the other hand, had most of its success before the tournament’s name changed from the South American Football Championship in 1975, winning 12 of its 15 trophies before 1960. In 2021, Argentina, inspired by Messi, captured the trophy again, ending a 28-year drought.

Brazil, however, has been the dominant team over the past three decades, securing five of its nine titles since 1989. It was back-to-back winners in 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2007, led by a golden generation of players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaka. Other notable winners include Chile, which won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016, Paraguay, and Peru.

The Inclusion of Guest Nations

Unlike UEFA, which holds qualifiers for its 32-team tournament, CONMEBOL, the governing body for South American soccer, is FIFA’s smallest confederation with only ten teams. As a result, all South American teams automatically qualify for Copa America, and guest nations are invited to make up the numbers. The United States, Mexico, Canada, and other CONCACAF nations will participate this year.

Since 1993, guest nations have been a regular feature of Copa America, adding more teams, more games, and higher viewership. While a guest nation has yet to win the tournament, Mexico has come close, reaching the final twice. The USMNT has also performed well, reaching the semi-finals in 1995 and 2016.

Stars to Watch

This year’s tournament will see many of soccer’s brightest stars. Now playing for Inter Miami, Lionel Messi will participate in his seventh Copa America. By playing in this tournament, Messi is set to break the record for the most appearances in Copa America, surpassing the record of 34 held by Chile’s Sergio Livingstone. Messi will also break the tournament’s all-time scoring record if he scores five goals.

Brazil will be led by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. in Neymar’s absence. Other notable Brazilian players include Alisson, Gabriel Martinelli, and Bruno Guimaraes. Colombia will feature Liverpool’s Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nunez will star for Uruguay. Ecuador’s Moises Caicedo is another player to watch.

Interestingly, several Major League Soccer (MLS) players will feature in Copa America this summer. Orlando City’s Pedro Gallese is expected to play for Peru, and Philadelphia Union’s Jose Martinez will likely represent Venezuela. MLS clubs must manage their squads as these players join their national teams for the tournament.

The Favorites and Underdogs

Argentina enters the tournament as a favorite, riding high on its international success, including its recent World Cup victory. Brazil, despite missing Neymar, remains a formidable opponent. Uruguay, with its strong squad, is also a contender. Among the dark horses, Colombia stands out as a team capable of making a deep run. The United States, with its talented young squad, could reach the semi-finals if the knockout stage draw is favorable.

The tournament’s format, which allows for intense group-stage matches followed by high-stakes knockout rounds, promises excitement and drama. With top teams and legendary players, Copa America 2024 is set to be a spectacular showcase of soccer excellence.

Copa America is not just a tournament but a celebration of Latin American soccer culture and its impact on the global stage. The tournament’s rich history highlights the region’s passion for the sport and its ability to produce world-class talent. Including guest nations from North and Central America adds to the tournament’s appeal, showcasing the growing influence of soccer across the Americas.

Latin American players have left an indelible mark on global soccer, with legends like Maradona, Pelé, and Messi inspiring millions. The region’s unique style of play, characterized by flair, creativity, and passion, continues to captivate fans worldwide. Copa America serves as a platform for these players to shine and for new talents to emerge.

As the tournament unfolds in the United States, fans will have an opportunity to witness firsthand the skill and excitement that Latin American soccer brings. The diverse host cities and stadiums will reflect the sport’s multicultural nature, bringing together fans from different backgrounds to celebrate their shared love of soccer.

The 2024 Copa America in the United States is set to be a landmark event, combining top-tier competition with the vibrant culture of Latin American soccer. It promises to be a thrilling spectacle, with memorable moments and outstanding performances from the world’s best players. As the tournament progresses, it will crown South America’s champions and reinforce the enduring legacy and global impact of Latin American soccer.

Also read: Mexico’s Preparations for 2026 World Cup Remembering Pelé 70 and Maradona 86

This summer’s tournament is a reminder of the unifying power of soccer, bringing together nations and fans to celebrate the beautiful game. Whether you are a long-time supporter or a newcomer to Copa America, this year’s competition will captivate and inspire, showcasing the best of what soccer has to offer.

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