by G.D. Morrill
Today begins the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, or America Cup One Hundred Year anniversary. The USA confronts Ecuador in Seattle. On Friday, Peru plays Colombia, and on Saturday Argentina v Venezuela, and Mexico v Chile.
That you don’t see Brazil anywhere in these games would appear to be an omission of humongous proportions. However, it’s true. Never in our imaginations would anyone expect for the Brazilians to not be still playing. Of course the Peruians are beside themselves with joy beating the Brazilians completely unexpectedly, which will last at least until the elimination rounds of the World Cup this next year. Also, the Brazilians were without superstars Neymar Jr. and Marcelo. These would appear to be tremendous mistakes by newly fired coach, Dunga, and the leadership of Brazil’s soccer federation, Marcelo not playing a game which pleased Dunga, moving forward from a defensive position, and with Barcelona’s ultimatum that Neymar Jr. having to choose between the Copa and the Olympics, meant that the Brazilians were left with the most talented team in the Copa not to advance. Unimaginable for Brazilians and amazing for the rest of us.
Venezuela also shocked themselves and the world. Venezuela has been a non factor in South American soccer forever. For them to rise to the occasion and beat perennial soccer power Uruguay, means a tectonic shift in South American soccer. This, along with Peru’s unbelievable win over Brazil, pundits are running around in circles to figure out what the hell just took place in the USA soccer tournament. And that’s without the results for the rest of the tournament!
This is not to even mention that in all of this turmoil, the USA has found its way into the quarters while other supposed superpower countries are out. South American soccer powers have always looked down their noses at the USA. And now it would appear that they need to shut their mouths and figure out where countries like the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and even Ecuador, all of whom have advanced into the quarters, stand in the new alignment.
Personally, I think it’s great that soccer purists now have to admit that their view of the soccer world has been altered, even though it might be just until those other power houses figure out what the hell all of these changes mean. But, these results are wonderful and surprising, making the Copa the surprise of the soccer world. This should also alter for the better, the attention this tournament receives in the soccer world for years to come. That the USA hosted this tournament, can only elevate us in the eyes of the rest of the world, is a huge bonus.