Thursday, July 05, 2007


Ok, I realize that the USMNT squad that is taking part in the Copa America isn't exactly the A team that won the Gold Cup. Yes there are several guys who have worn the Red, White & Blue that have under 5 caps for the squad. I understand that calling them a "B-" squad would be an accurate title.

These things aside, CONMEBOL really has no ground whatsoever to blast the USSF for sending this squad to the Copa America.

According to, CONMEBOL general secretary Eduardo Deluca told The Associated Press on in a telephone interview on Wednesday -

"We like for the continent's most important competition to be respected with the best players."

Deluca needs to understand what he is saying before he says it, that or become tennis buddies with Alexi Lalas. CONMEBOL nations have been short changing the Copa America for the last 8 or so years. When was the last time a full strength Brazil actually showed up for the tournament? If I am not wrong, this is the first year that Argentina has actually sent it's first team to the Copa America in several years.

I realize that the Copa America is the championship of South America, but does Deluca realize that we aren't members of his confederation? We were invited guests. Had the CONMEBOL officials said that as per stipulation for the invite, the USSF must send it's best team to the tournament, I think that they would have done as best as they could to send the best team. However, they didn't and the USSF IMHO, did the right thing and is using this tournament just like the US Military uses live fire exercises; they are giving less experienced guys a real taste of what they will get in World Cup Qualifying and in the World Cup.

The USSF, as they are not a member of CONMEBOL actually had other reasons for not bringing Deuce, Bocanegra, Howard, and other European based players. As the Gold Cup, and not the Copa America is the USSF's regional championship, the European based players only had to be released for that tournament. Other players like Feilhaber & DeMerit play for clubs that recognized that having their guys play in the Copa will benefit their clubs, so they released them. As for the MLS based players who didn't make the squad, (Donovan for example), that has more to do with MLS and the fact that Donovan's club sucks without him, as exhibited by them finally winning once he returned to the team.

I am happy that the US has been given such a valuable oppritunity to get real world experience on the international level. Would I have honestly liked to have seen the first team play down there? You bet your ass I would. I think we would have tied Argentine, beaten Paraguay, knocked off Columbia, dropped Mexico another 2-0 score line and made it to the Semi-Finals and either faced Brazil or Argentina again. That said, considering the situation that the USSF was in with the Gold Cup, the MLS season, European based player availability and the need to get new players into the fold, I think that they made the best decision.

On a different, but same note concerning the Copa America and player selections, I think that CONMEBOL should re-examine its schedule to allow for more players to play. Namely, I think that CONMEBOL should look at trying to shift the Copa America to the same year as the European Championships. If they did that, it would give their players a chance to get a full summer off the year after the World Cup and before it, along with giving European clubs less of a complaint for releasing players. I think that the one group of people who would be able to get this done is the media.

Think of it, the South American, Mexican and US based media outlets that get the broadcast rights to the European Championships and Copa America would have a soccer bonanza on their hands. With the time differences in match scheduling, they could lock fans into their TV's for the entire day. They can start the morning with the Euro Championships matches, then have a 30/60 minute recap show. Follow that with the Copa America preview show and two Copa matches that evening. Of course, this is assuming that the two tournaments start at the same time.

Having the Copa America every 4 years on the same schedule as the Euro Championships would allow for more rest with South American players and then Brazil could have it's entire first team for the tournament. This might also lead to a change to the South American World Cup qualifying, which could be shortened to allow for the tournament.

Instead of all 10 teams playing each other, have two groups of 5, with each side playing 8 matches. The top two sides from each group advance to the World Cup and the two third place finishers face off in a home/away series that determines who plays the 4th place CONCACAF side for that extra World Cup slot.

Oh well, a guy can dream.

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Blogger QJA said...

Great post. It would seem that CONMEBOL didn't realize exactly what the Copa was worth to USSF when they sent the invite. I agree with what you're saying, especially when you suggested the Copa coincide with the Euro Championships. Great stuff.

9:57 AM  
Blogger soccermad said...

I agree with your sentiments (especially concerning under-strength Bra/Arg sides), but when looked at through the prism of money, I understand where the CONMEBOL official is coming from.

For a continent that lags behind Europe in terms of finances (the reasons we can get into later), having a full-strength U.S. side that gets into the later stages of the Copa America is beneficial in terms of TV dollars.

The same goes for having the marathon World Cup qualifying system. This allows both CONMEBOL and each country's federation to make some money off of their prized commodity, their national teams. Plus, you most likely avoid the situation where an Argentina (in 1993) or Brazil have to go up against a country half a world away to playoff for the last spot at the World Cup.

Thus, the Copa America will continue to be the summer after a World Cup as long as the current WC qualifing system is in place. And that system seems like it's here to stay.


Soccer Mad in America

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Gabriel said...

About scheduling I have to agree with soccermad: The current scheme is actually much more profitable for CONMEBOL.

Why would you shorten the qualifiers to 8 games each (the system up to '94) instead of 18, when it's precisely the qualifiers where there's more public interest in South America? Plus, remember there's no qualifying for Copa America (unlike Euro), so extending the WC qualifiers over more than 2 years gives teams time to play together on a somewhat regular basis. And competent scheduling can avoid problems with clubs to a large extent.

CONMEBOL is planning (I hope it remains that way) to stage Copa America every 4 years now, instead of the 2 and 3 of recent times. And it makes sense: just before the start of the WC qualifiers. The reason why Copa America declined in quality recently was because it used to be in the middle of the qualifiers so coaches opted to neglect it. Look at this year: other than Brazil and the CONCACAF teams everyone sent their full squads. It's now an opportunity to test their teams rather than a distraction.

Brazil's case is special because they only care about the World Cup. Their top players won't show up to Copa America no matter when you schedule it. Except maybe they'll realize it's a worthy competition to star in for future editions, once it becomes commonplace for everyone else to field their strongest teams.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment... and yes, CONMEBOL should understand what the USMNT's priorities are when they invite them.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Taylor said...

I'm Sorry but I disagree! Not with the fact that CONMEBOL has it's own interests, they have not been the least kind to Mexico either, but with all this denial about the USMT and their priorities. First of all when you mention that Brazil and Argentina don't normally take their A teams to Copa America, let me just remind you that those two teams have NOTHING to prove in the world of Futbol!!!NOTHING!!!
To the rest of the world (but who cares, right?) the U.S. will be the worst team in the tournament, period! And the only memory that lingers in the rest of the worlds collective memory is that of the the World Cup disaster.
Also in two of the three games Mexico has played, including against Brazil, they fielded teams that had never played together before. Aginst Brazil without five of the players that played the Gold Cup final.
I think that the U.S. made a mistake, and I have a feeling it will come back to haunt them.
The USMT had momentum on their side and two guys that could have shined, Donovan and Spector.
Now that's long gone! Let's hope the gamble to be in the Confederations Cup pays off the way the USMT thought it should.

10:54 PM  

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