This year’s Copa America has been one filled with plenty of surprises. South American powerhouses such as Uruguay and Brazil have been knocked out in the group stage while underdogs Venezuela and Peru have advanced into the quarterfinal. The upcoming quarterfinal stage of the tournament will be an exciting one and below is a preview of each of the upcoming matches.
United States VS Ecuador Thursday, June 16
Group A winners USA will be playing Group B runner-ups Ecuador at Century Link Field to kickoff the quarterfinal stage of this years Copa America.
Both of these teams played well for the most part in their group stage matches. The U.S defied the odds once again as they won arguably the toughest group in the tournament. They finished 2-0-1 losing to Colombia 2-0 in their first match, then dominated Costa Rica in their second match winning 4-0, and then finishing with a 1-0 win against Paraguay in their third match. Ecuador finished 1-2-0 drawing 0-0 against Brazil in their opening match, 2-2 in a thriller with Peru, and then thrashing Haiti 4-0 in their final match.
This opening quarterfinal match could be the most exciting of the four as both of these teams have styles that will counter each other. Ecuador plays an exciting style consisting of speed throughout the middle and wings while the USMNT plays a strong counterattacking style that could always result in goals. Believe it or not, the USMNT plays better when the other team maintains possession. In their loss to Colombia they maintained possession more and ended up losing. When they faced off with Costa Rica and Paraguay, they held the ball 40% of the time or less but managed to be the better team and win. With the way Ecuador plays, this could benefit the USMNT. Ecuador will rely on the connection of Antonio Valencia to Enner Valencia to help them put the ball in the net as the USMNT will rely on Geoff Cameron and John Brooks to help slow down that attack and feed the ball out to Michael Bradley who will look for young up and comer Bobby Wood and veteran Clint Dempsey to capitalize in the final third. The USMNT could struggle with the Ecuadorian attack though as speedy fullback Deandre Yedlin will miss the match after receiving two yellows in the final group stage match against Paraguay.
I believe that this will be an exciting back and forth match. I have the USMNT defeating Ecuador 3-2 and advancing to the semifinal of the Copa America.
Colombia VS Peru Friday, June 17
Surprising Group B winners Peru will be taking on Group A runner-ups Colombia at MetLife Stadium on Friday.
Peru won a group that they weren’t expected to make it out of. They finished 2-1-0 beating Haiti 1-0, they drew 2-2 with Ecuador, and they beat Brazil 1-0 scoring on what should have been a handball but nonetheless they came out on top of Group B. Colombia finished 2-0-1 in their group beating the USMNT 2-0, Paraguay 2-1, and then they lost their last match 3-2 against Costa Rica. Both of these teams have played well so far in the tournament. Peru will look for Paolo Guerrero to create for them as he has one goal and two assists in the tournament so far. Colombia will rely on their attack to help them win this game. James Rodriguez has played well so far scoring two goals and Juan Cuadrado will be looking to use his speed to fly down the wing and send the ball into the middle for Carlos Bacca to score for this exciting Colombia team. Another player who could will excel for this Colombia team is Edwin Cardona. Cardona doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because of world class players surrounding him. I expect this to be a lopsided game. I have Colombia winning 3-1 and advancing to the semifinal.
Argentina VS Venezuela Saturday, June 18
Copa America title favorites Argentina will be kicking off against Venezuela at Gillette Stadium Saturday as they look to win their first major tournament title since 1993. Argentina have looked like the best team in the tournament so far and that is significant because they have had Lionel Messi come off the bench and winger Angel Di Maria picked up an injury in the team’s second group stage match and it is unknown if he will be back. Argentina won all three of their group stage matches decisively beating Chile 2-1, Panama 5-0, and Bolivia 3-0. Their opponents Venezuela surprised everyone and finished second in Group C and they played well doing so. They defeated Jamaica 1-0 in their opening match, then defeated CONMEBOL WCQ leaders Uruguay 1-0, and drew with Group C winners Mexico in an exciting 1-1 match. On paper this Argentina team is extremely better than this Venezuela squad and they’ve been playing like it also. Their attack has put the ball in the net 10 times which is the most out of every team in the tournament so far. This Venezuela squad has surprised many and played well but Lionel Messi and Co. will not be stopped this match. I have Argentina winning comfortably 3-0 against Venezuela.
Mexico VS Chile Saturday, June 18
This match between Mexico and Chile has the makings to become a very exciting back and forth thriller. Both of these teams match up well against each other. Mexico won their group finishing 2-1-0 beating Uruguay 3-1, Jamaica 2-0, and they drew with Venezuela 1-1. Chile started off slow in the tournament but are starting to look like their old selves defeating Bolivia and Panama after being outclassed by Argentina in their first match. Chile’s attack is starting to come together as both Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas scored two goals in their last match against Panama. That was Sanchez’s first goal in his last 8 matches and Vargas’ first in his last six matches. Sanchez has played well in spite of just scoring in the third group stage game. Chile will also look for world class midfielder Arturo Vidal to control the center of the pitch along with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Charles Aranguiz.
Mexico have played well although they’ve had a different lineup in every game so far. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio has received some criticism for his tinkering of the lineups but has obtained solid results so far as the Mexico manager. Mexico are currently riding a streak of 22 games without a loss. Mexico will look for Javier Hernandez’s movement to cause problems for the Chilean defense as the Mexican striker is looking to break Jared Borgetti’s all time scoring record. There have been questions as to whether the Mexican defense will be able to withstand the Chilean attack as Juan Carlos Osorio has not had a set back line so far in the tournament. This is not a match for Osorio to continue tinkering with the lineup. He needs to put the best four defenders back there in order to contain Vargas and Sanchez. I expect this match to be a good one.
I have Mexico winning 2-1 and advancing to play Colombia in the semifinals.