Soccer fans, block off the month of June 2016, for what many call the 3rd-biggest international tournament in the world is coming to the United States.
In a joint press conference Thursday held by CONMEBOL (the South American confederation) and CONCACAF (the confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean), long-rumored plans were confirmed when it was announced that the 45th Copa América tournament would take place in the United States from June 3-26, 2016, marking the 100th anniversary (the Centenario) of the first Copa América that took place in 1916. As part of an agreement between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, the tournament will include the 10 South American teams and 6 from CONCACAF. The USMNT and Mexico will get automatic bids, and 4 more teams from CONCACAF will join the field: the champion of the 2014 Caribbean Cup, the champion of the 2014 Copa Centroamericana (which will also be in the United States), and two teams determined by a playoff between the top four non-qualified finishers at the 2015 Gold Cup.
Host venues will be determined at a later date, however our beloved RFK Stadium is reported to already be one of the stadiums under consideration to be a host venue. Other stadiums reported to be under consideration include Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida; the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California; MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey; the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida; Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California; and Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
It should be noted that the 2015 and 2017 Gold Cups will proceed as scheduled, along with the 2015 Copa América (hosted by Chile) and the 2019 Copa América (to be hosted by Brazil). Still, the opportunity to combine forces to create this supertournament featuring some of the world's best teams should excite even the casual soccer fan. Also, since 2016 is void of any major tournaments, it's expected that, assuming the World Cup qualifying schedule is worked out, all teams will be bringing their A teams. This will certainly give the U.S. Men's National Team valuable experience against incredibly talented sides.
There are questions on how this will affect the 3rd round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying as well as the Major League Soccer schedule. Will MLS take a break for Copa América or otherwise alter their schedule so as not to compete against these matches? Still, from MLS to the Copa América to Euro 2016 (which is scheduled to take place June 10-July 10, 2016) all the way to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, the 2016 summer soccer schedule will be packed full of excellent choices.
It's a great time to be a soccer fan.