Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Copa America Rising

According to ESPNsoccernet.com, USSF President Sunil Gulati expects to receive a formal invite for the USMNT to the 2007 Copa America within 24 hours. This makes me happy. However, the article goes on to say that Gulati says that the USSF will decide by the end of the month whether or not the USMNT will accept the offer and participate. This makes me sad.

I am happy because before the World Cup, if you checked the Copa America website, it listed that they already had their 12 teams lined up, with Mexico and Costa Rica being the two guest sides from CONCACAF. Gulati seemed to have taken the comments of The bitter One to heart after the World Cup and opened up a dialogue with the folks at the CONMEBOL head office and must have convinced them to invite the USMNT. There seems to be only two ways they feel that they can have the USMNT participate:

- revoke Costa Rica's invitation, which is the bush league option, but one that provides the least amount of problems on the ground.


- expand the tournament to 16 teams, to include 4 more CONCACAF or outside nations (South Korea, South Africa, Ivory Coast have been mentioned here and there) which would allow the Costa Rican's their spot and get the USMNT in. This way provides more problems for the organizers, as they will have one more group to deal with and schedule into the stadiums.

For Costa Rica's sake, I hope that they do not revoke their invite for the USMNT. Expanding the tournament to 16 teams would only seem right, and it would actually bring in more money for Venezuela. A 16 team Copa America might almost rival the European Championships, that is if the the big two of South America (Brasil & Argentina for those who have yet to have your morning coffee) send their First Teams.

One big question that I have is how Gulati was able to convince the big boys in CONMEBOL to invite us, without any guarantee that we would accept the invitation and participate. Maybe Sunil is just saying for the record that we will decide, just incase something unforeseen happens in the very near future. I really don't know, but it sounds odd that someone would lobby to be invited to a party, to then take more time after receiving the invite to decide on whether or not to really go. Sounds odd to me.

I have said it before and I will say it again, the USMNT needs to take part in this tournament. Playing in South America against CONMEBOL teams in unfriendly stadiums will be perfect experience for the new breed of USMNT players we will need to start "bloodying" to get ready for 2010. Sending a squad that has Michael Bradley, Freddy Adu, Kenny Cooper, Tim Howard and more would be a huge stepping stone for the side, as well as giving whomever the new coach is a chance to see how those guys do in a truly foreign tournament, which the Gold Cup is Not.


Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

You added something I didn't think about: whether we're going to boot out Costa Rica to claim a spot. Like you, I hope we don't.

But one thing I'm not seeing discussed is whether participation in the Copa is likely given MLS's current regular season schedule - i.e. through the summer, when the 2007 Copa will be played. On a related note, I'm wondering whether Gulati's tipping his hand on changes to that status quo. It's certainly not a trial balloon - at least not for soccer geeks.

Anyway, like I say in the post, this is pure speculation. I just don't get why Gulati would open this can of worms by discussing an invitation if he didn't see a way to accommodate it.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I figured that I would wait until the USSF and Sunil actually get invited and accept to start wrapping my brain around how they might actually send one competative team to the Gold Cup, one team to the Copa and not have either team be the deciding factor in the MLS season, like the World Cup was in Kansas City's season was this year.

3:01 PM  

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