Copa America Centenario's bandwagon rattles back into New Jersey for a Colombia-Peru quarterfinal at MetLife Stadium. Next time we see this tournament in East Rutherford, it will be the final.
Expectations for this quarterfinal match were that it would feel like a final. When the groups were drawn, Brazil seemed the obvious favorite to win Group B and the USA seemed to be shooting for the runner-up spot in Group A: MetLife Stadium was the smart buy if you wanted to see USMNT take on a global soccer power on home soil in a competitive international.
When circumstances surprisingly delivered USMNT to the top of Group A, it still seemed like MetLife would host a final-before-the-final: the expectation shifting to a Brazil-Colombia game.
But Peru delivered the shock of the tournament to date, beating Brazil not-quite-fair but nonetheless square. No denying Los Incas are not as appetizing a prospect as their more illustrious CONMEBOL counterparts, but they have finished third in their last two outings in Copa America - and they are in these quarterfinals on (refereeing-error-assisted) merit.
Colombia's standing as one of the tournament favorites took a bit of a hit when Costa Rica swept aside Los Cafeteros' reserves in the final game of Group B. That result is the reason Colombia is in this game. Though perhaps the team is not so disappointed by that outcome: instead of having to think about navigating a path past Argentina (presently, the clear favorite to win this competition), Colombia has Peru and whichever side wins the Chile-Mexico quarterfinal to get by to book a return trip to East Rutherford for the final.
This game won't be easy for Colombia. Nor, if Los Cafeteros get that far, will the next. But Colombia is the heavyweight team in this half of the draw, and there are a lot of people preparing to crowd into MetLife stadium to see if Peru can spring the upset or if expectations of a Colombian victory will be fulfilled.
A game between Colombia and Peru at an 82,566-seat stadium in New Jersey has sold out more than a day in advance.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) June 16, 2016