3 MATCHUPS TO WATCH
The best games within the games
ARGENTINA VS. CHILE
A year after Chile claimed the 2015 Copa title on home soil by beating Argentina in a penalty shootout, the two sides meet again in Santa Clara, Calif. Whoever wins the star-packed Group D matchup—Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María (above, in blue) against Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal—becomes a knockout-round favorite.
COPA VS. THE OLYMPICS
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia are competing at both the Copa (June) and the Summer Games in Rio (August), which poses the challenge of balancing two squads. (Olympic teams can use three players over the age of 23.) Having never won Olympic gold, Brazil is focused on the event it is hosting—which means star forward Neymar won't be coming to the U.S.
JURGEN KLINSMANN VS. MOUNTING PRESSURE
This isn't the most important competition on the U.S. manager's horizon—that would be World Cup '18 qualification—but after a rocky lead-up to the Copa, a successful summer run could relieve some stress.
Three fresh faces whose names you'll know by July
CHRISTIAN PULISIC / U.S.
Try to pretend you've never heard this before: The 17--year--old Borussia Dortmund forward (right) from Hershey, Pa., is the "transformative soccer star America has been waiting for."
DERLIS GONZÁLEZ / Paraguay
The 22-year-old winger impressed during Paraguay's run to the 2015 Copa semifinal then became his country's second-most-expensive signing and helped lead Dynamo Kiev to the Champions League round of 16.
MARQUINHOS / Brazil
Three years after joining PSG, the 22-year-old looks ready to lead the next generation of Seleção defenders. If you witnessed Brazil's exit from World Cup 2014, you know how important that is.
Four killer coifs that'll catch your eye
The new and the obsolete of this year's Copa
U! S! A!
The USMNT has competed in past Copas (2-2-8), but for the first time the U.S. is hosting. If this event is as big a financial success as hoped, it won't be the last.
The defending champ for the first time in 36 appearances, Chile is also in transition: New manager Juan Antonio Pizzi has only four games under his belt.
Mexico and the U.S. are historical North American heavyweights, but the region is deeper than usual. Costa Rica is on the rise, and Panama could surprise in Group D.
An investigation into FIFA malfeasance hit the Americas particularly hard, with at least 16 CONMEBOL and CONCACAF officials implicated (and absent).
The U.S. midfielder-turned-defender retired in '14, after his fourth World Cup, then returned for the '15 Gold Cup. He's finally out of the picture. (Until he's not....)
Tickets to Jamaica-Venezuela (Chicago) cost only a few bucks, but good luck seeing any of the powers for less than $80. For the final even nosebleeds are about $200.
BE OUR GUESTS
Copa countries, as they're represented in the U.S. population
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
*Figures based on 2014 census estimates
LUIS HIDALGO/AP (DI MARIA)
MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AP (VIDAL)
ERIC BOLTE/USA TODAY SPORTS (MATTOCKS)
RINGO H.W. CHIU/AP (ZARDES)
IMAGO/ZUMA PRESS (WILLIAN)
MOISES CASTILLO/AP (JIMENEZ)
RAÚL JIMÉNEZ > Mexico