Some big news for American soccer yesterday, as CONCACAF and CONMEBOL announced that a unified 2016 Copa America will be hosted in the United States. The tournament will include all 10 members of CONMEBOL, the USA and Mexico, and four other CONCACAF teams to be determined through other CONCACAF tournaments. This news could be a huge boost to American soccer and help the game reach new levels of popularity in the U.S.
For starters, excitement and interest about soccer has been building leading up to the World Cup, as it always does. However, it is difficult to keep that interest level high in the years following the world’s biggest tournament. With the Copa America coming just two years after the World Cup, instead waiting four years for the next World Cup, soccer might be able to keep and build on the interest generated among casual fans.
The USMNT will see some benefits of this as well, as they will be able to play in a meaningful international tournament on home soil in front of their own fans. The Copa America is more prestigious and has a higher level of competition than the Gold Cup, and there is every reason to believe that the U.S. will send a strong side to the tournament. A successful run there will help keep the U.S. team in the spotlight and continue to build support.
The fans are the biggest winners here, as they will get to watch some of the world’s best play in their backyard. Superstars such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are likely to be involved, and for the diverse population of the U.S. with Central and South American heritage, it is an opportunity to watch their home country up close and personal.
Finally, MLS could see some benefits here as well. There is a chance that MLS will have to take a small break to allow players to join the tournament, much like the NHL does for the Olympics. However, fans who attend the Copa America games are likely to be very excited about soccer and looking for more, and that could lead to a boost in MLS attendance.
All in all, this is fantastic news for everyone who has an interest in American soccer, and this tournament could lead to some big benefits for everyone involved.