The 2016 Copa America draw was like a early Radiohead album, bad at first but promising upon further review.
“You do not want to get in front of the super nova ball of fire that is going to be the Colombia revenge tour for the global humiliation suffered during the Miss Universe contest at the hands of Steve Harvey” – Me, circa 2/19/2016
In Sunday’s 2016 Copa America draw the USMNT was grouped with Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay. Grading the draw against the best case scenario we laid out I give it a C- (more on this below) but on a scale of panache, “Pitbull-ism”, and stage presence the grade is an obvious A+. Go ahead and get lost in this clip of some of the entertainment on hand at the drawing:
No holds barred pomp, fluff and unbridled enthusiasm the likes of which this city hasn’t seen since billy mumphrey’s cockeyed optimism got him mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy. An almost impossible task to follow up the electricity of Yandel on a stage with fireworks and fake Messi’s doing flipsy tricks emulating a miami futsal tournament half time show. But in a stroke of American mind-melting metaphorical ingenuity, we did it. It happened. Following the silky smooth, flowing, decisive, raw entertainment on display from Yandel we put our guy out there to do his thing:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) February 22, 2016
Hey I’ll caption it: “Very American 1998 World Cup-esque”
The bottom line is the USA’s group ended up being one of the more difficult permutations available. As discussed in the drawing’s preview post there were some teams (Haiti) we would have liked to see in our group. However, i will admit this was a naive outlook and somewhat ignorant of the USMNT history and the American tradition in general. There is a long list of matches against the best nations in the world where the US has played to the maximum of their ability, a skill which has sometimes lacked against the world’s laggards:
- In the 2002 world cup the US made the quarterfinals after beating Portugal in the group stages and Mexico in the Round of 16. The loss in the quarterfinals to runners up Germany was perhaps the greatest injustice to America since Bieber being born in Canada.
- In the 2009 Confederations Cup semi-final we beat #1 in the world Spain who hadn’t lost in 35 games and then barely lost out to Brazil in the final.
- There was the go-go USA moment in 2010 with the US topping a group including England and Slovenia.
- Most recently in the 2014 world cup in Brazil the US made it out of a group consisting of Germany, Portugal and the USMNT’s quadrennial kryptonite Ghana and put on an unbelievable display (thanks, Tim) against an extremely talented Belgian side.
- But perhaps the most impressive example of the USMNT punching above their weight was in the 1994 World Cup which was hosted in the USA for the first time. The US was in a group with then #4 in the world Colombia. Under constant pressure from the perceived weakness of the USMNT due to things like not having a professional outdoor league and not qualifying for a world cup since 1950, the boys in blue decided it was time to go all in. That’s right, denim uniforms:
Yes – the US won that game but crashed out in the Round of 16 to eventual winners Brazil. And yes, a member of the Colombian national team may have been brutally murdered because of it. But the ability for the USMNT to sack up when times/uniforms are tough is unrivaled. We expect more of the same this summer at the Copa America.