On a warm evening in New York City the hottest event was not on Broadway or at Madison Square Garden as the Hammerstein Ballroom was the venue to host this 100th Anniversary tournament of the joint venture between CONCACAF & CONMEBOL for the Copa America Centenario that will be performing this June all over the United States.
In a star studded event with former players that graced the field like Carlos Valderrama from Colombia, Jorge campos of Mexico, Mario Kempes of Argentina and former USA defender and current Fox Sports analyst Alexi Lalas were behind the tables that held the ball to draw the nations and which group they were going to be placed into.
Once all the seeded teams were placed in their proper groups the USA was ready to see who they were going to face and when the they drew from the bottom to the second pot it would be Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay who will join the host nation in a group that seems to be a bit difficult for the Stars and Stripes.
But for Jurgen Klinsmann who attended the draw for US Soccer he is ready for the challenge that has already presented him as a repeat of the difficult group he had in the 2014 World Cup down in Brazil two summers ago. "Obviously it's a difficult group no doubt about it, but it's doable" Said Klinsmamn, " We had the same thing down in Brazil but we start against Colombia instead of Ghana."
There is familiarity with Costa Rica as the USA have faced the Central American side many times in the Gold Cup & World Cup Qualifying thru CONCACAF, we also know what Jose Pekerman has done for Colombia and the rise of their young striker at Real Madrid with James Rodriguez. Of course their big Quarterfinal run at the World Cup was big news to the world. "Colombia is one of the top teams in South America along with Paraguay that we know, so we start against a good side in Santa Clara and it's exciting"
The United States will begin on Friday, June 3rd against Colombia in Levis Stadium, then travel to Chicago and face Costa Rica at Soldier Field on Tuesday, June 7th and finish of the group stage against Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 11th.
The top two teams in all four groups will advance to the Quarterfinals that start on Thursday June 16th in Seattle, Washington. The US Soccer Federation is ready to get this tournament underway that will be sandwiched between the months of March & September as the USA will play World Cup Qualifiers against Guatemala by the end of next month and on the road at St. Vincent/Grenadines then at home against Trinidad & Tobago.
For myself personally this was a wonderful event that had some flair, good music and the tension of seeing those teams being picked out of a pot from the left side and then seeing their fate being delivered by the positional pots on the right side of which group they will be placed in.
This was the first time I was at a live production of a draw whether it's the FA Cup, World Cup Qualifying preliminary draw, UEFA Champions League draw or the World Cup Final Draw its self. A lot of work goes into the production of such a prestigious tournament as it is the oldest Continental tournament in World Soccer and now for the first time in the United States this tournament will be performed right here in the United States in four months.
GROUP A: USA, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay
GROUP B: Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru
GROUP C: Mexico, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela
GROUP D: Argentina, Chile, Panama, Bolivia