The Copa America Centenario draw took place on February 21, 2016, in New York City. (Photo: Mexsport)
NEW YORK – The Copa America Centenario was launched Sunday night with the Official Draw at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The historic, once-in-a-lifetime tournament will take place from June 3-26 across 10 cities in the United States.
Under the direction of CONCACAF Deputy General Secretary Jurgen Mainka -- and with the assistance of legendary former players Alexi Lalas (United States), Carlos Valderrama (Colombia), Mario Kempes (Argentina) and Jorge Campos (Mexico) -- the 16 participants discovered their opponents by the conclusion of the hour-long ceremony televised worldwide.
The draw was executed with a double-blind system involving the use of eight pots. The first four pots - the 'team pots' - contained groupings of four nations each. The final four pots - the 'group pots' – were used to sort the nations randomly, once drawn from the team pots into the four groups.
The teams (10 from South America and six from CONCACAF) were divided into four groups with host United States placed in Group A, which quickly earned the “Group of Death” moniker.
The U.S. will meet Colombia in the opening match of the tournament at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on June 3. It is the fourth time the Americans are competing in the Copa America and first since 2007.
Also in Group A is Costa Rica and Paraguay, which will faceoff at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on June 4. The Central American champion, a 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalist, reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in its only other appearance in 2001.
U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann acknowledged the strength of the group, but believes his squad will be up to the challenge, as it was when advancing out of a group in the 2014 FIFA World Cup that featured Germany, Ghana and Portugal.
“Obviously it’s a difficult group, no doubt about it, but it’s doable,” Klinsmann said. “We had a similar kind of scenario in Brazil and we went through, so now we start with Colombia right away instead of Ghana.”
Joining eight-time champion Brazil in Group B is Ecuador, Peru and Haiti, which is competing in the tournament for the first time after defeating Trinidad & Tobago in a play-in match last month.
Mexico heads Group C and is competing in the tournament for the 10th time. The CONCACAF Gold Cup will take on Uruguay in its opening match at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on June 5.
Jamaica competed well in last summer’s Copa America and, in this edition, will open against Venezuela on June 5 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Headlining Group D is Argentina, which last won the competition in 1993 and was runner-up last summer. faces Chile in a rematch of the 2015 final at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on June 6.
Panama defeated Cuba, 4-0, in a qualifying playoff last month, will kick-off its campaign on June 6 against Bolivia at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played from June 16-18 in Seattle, Foxborough, East Rutherford and Santa Clara.
The semifinals, on June 21 and 22, will take place in Chicago and Houston. The third-place game is in Glendale on June 25, while the final will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on June 26.
Complete draw results:
Group A: United States, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay
Group B: Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru
Group C: Mexico, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela
Group D: Argentina, Chile, Panama, Bolivia