It is raining and lightning and thundering and nasty outside, but there is nothing but sunshine and rainbows and butterflies in my heart right now… and do you know why? Because the next month and a half or so starting exactly one week from Friday is going to be balls deep in awesome for anybody who loves soccer, or loves America, or loves making money – but especially if you love soccer.
“Why is that Sam? Does this have something to do with the ‘Copa’ that Mike Francesca spent half an hour trying to convince the world that he doesn’t know anything about it?”
Yes, yes it does. (Sorry for those of you who don’t get the reference but a dozen different people tweeted me the link to Francesca crying today about Sports Illustrated wasting “11 pages” of its once-great magazine on coverage of “soccuh” and somebody named “Messy”… for those of you who want to listen to him hem and haw about it the video is below, but know this going in: it’s not worth your time)
ANYWAY, for the more enlightened individuals in our midst, we’ve got two fantastically awesome tournaments looming in the not-too-distant future that will provide us with tons of entertainment and #content. They are:
COPA AMERICA: traditionally a tournament to determine the best country in South American, though this being the 100th anniversary (“Centenario”) edition they have opened it up to some nations in North America (eg, USA, Mexico, Haiti,
Paraguay and Jamaica). First game is on June 3 – hosts USMNT vs Colombia – and it runs for three and a half weeks until June 26. There will be games played at stadiums throughout the country and if Big Cat and I get off our lazy asses we might even put together a watch party or two. Get pumped.
UEFA EURO 2016: it is essentially the “World Cup” of Europe, and plain and simple the second best soccer tournament in all the land outside of the actual World Cup. This year’s edition has been expanded from the normal 16 teams to include 24, which has its positives and negatives but one thing that everybody should love: MORE MIDDAY GAMES TO WATCH WHEN YOU WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE TO DO DUMB SHIT LIKE WORK! If you can’t get pumped about that fact, well, sucks to be you. First game is (Friday) June 10 – hosts France vs Romania – and it will run for precisely one month to July 10. Stay pumped.
So that’s the very quick and very dirty explanation for why the next couple months of your life is going to be awesome. You’re welcome. I’ll have more detailed breakdowns of the two respective tournaments in the days leading up to their official starts.
For now though let’s take a quick peek at the USMNT roster that Jurgen Klinsmann has assembled, and what to look for in tonight’s friendly/tune-up/practice game against Ecuador.
UNITED STATES MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM
Jurgy announced the final 23-man roster for the tournament over the weekend and here it is:
• BVB’s Christian Pulisic was included… choo chooooooooooooo
• Lots of puzzle pieces to work with in the midfield. No, we still don’t have a world class talisman there, so let’s stop complaining about that and move on. I’m hoping for good things from Nagbe and Bedoya in particular.
• Guzan was named the starting GK from day one, which I am cool with for two reasons: Howard has lost his fastball (and as not-great as Guzan was at Villa, he got plenty of shot-stopping practice – heyooooooooo) and going with a muddled “rotation” system would have helped nobody
• BOBBY MOTHER FCKIN WOOD, Y’ALL… and Altidore’s 75th hamstring injury should give our boy plenty of playing time to show what he’s got
• The fact Wondolowski is on the team boggles my mind, and the fact he obviously took the slot Jordan Morris should have taken is just ridiculous to me. Wondo is a good MLS player and by all accounts a good locker room presence, but this tournament should have been the perfect opportunity to get a guy like Morris – one of the big hopes for the future of our NT – some invaluable experience. Instead we get Wondo.
• Why is Michael Orozco on this team? I have no idea. I get that Omar Gonzalez has been pretty disappointing in NT colors, but Orozco has been way waaaaaay worse, and Gonzo has been playing well in Mexico since transferring from the Galaxy. I also get that Miazga is young, but godamit, this is precisely the kind of tournament where we should get young guys like that some time. Fucking Jurgen, man.
• Fabian Johnson is listed as a defender. Dude is fresh off a great season at Borussia Monchenpenisgladbach and Klinsmann seems dead set on playing him at defender. I hope to go not, but wouldn’t be surprised. This will be something to watch for in tonight’s game and going forward.
Keep in mind this is just a friendly, and the first this particular group will have played together (anybody suggesting Puerto Rico counted should be slapped upside his head), so the “keys” are getting time on the field together in a game situation, building some confidence, not getting hurt and avoiding total ass-hat mistakes.
Prediction: USA to win 2-1.
Not that I’m biased or anything.
So there you have it. Another practice game coming up this weekend against Bolivia on Saturday… stay tuned.
Sam U. L. Army