Copa America draw: groups, schedule, venues


CONMEBOL

The 2024 Copa America groups and schedule were revealed at a glitzy draw ceremony in downtown Miami Thursday night, and South Florida fans now know who will be playing at Hard Rock Stadium this summer in the tournament’s group stage.

Uruguay plays Panama on June 23. Defending champion Argentina, featuring Inter Miami star Lionel Messi, will face Peru on June 29 in a game that should sell out in minutes. Hard Rock Stadium will also host the tournament final on July 14.

The highly anticipated 16-team tournament, an expanded version of the prestigious South American championship, kicks off in Atlanta on June 20.

After some confusion in the final round of the draw, held at the James L. Knight Center, the groups were finalized:

A: Argentina, Peru, Chile, Winner of Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago

B: Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica

C: United States, Uruguay, Panama, Bolivia

D: Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Winner of Honduras vs. Costa Rica.

The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout stage.

Argentina plays in the opening match June 20 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta against the winner of Canada vs. Trinidad and Tobago play-in match. Argentina’s second game is June 25 against Chile in East Rutherford, New Jersey, before the Albiceleste head to Miami for the group finale.

The United States opens June 23 against Bolivia in Arlington, Texas. Its second game is June 27 against Panama in Atlanta, and the final group game will be against its toughest opponent, Uruguay, on July 1 in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium.

Bolivia is one of the weakest teams in South America. Panama is a familiar opponent. Kansas City will be a USA-friendly venue. The U.S. team will be favored to advance from the group, but coach Gregg Berhalter is taking nothing for granted.

“There’s a danger in skipping past the first two games and thinking, `It’s the Uruguay game’’’, Berhalter said after the draw. “Every game is going to be meaningful. Our goal is to get as many points as possible in the group stage and then continue on.”

Berhalter anticipates packed stadiums and a great atmosphere throughout the tournament as the United States gears up to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

“We have so many different cultures in the United States that I think there’s going to be a huge appreciation for what’s happening,” he said. “This is a mini World Cup and the fans want to get a taste of what it’s going to be like in 2026. Now it’s time to check it out. I think you’re going to see great stadiums, great soccer, and some really great support.”

Five-time World Cup champion Brazil, which has won nine Copa America titles, opens June 24 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, versus the winner of the Honduras-Costa Rica play-in game. Brazil’s second game is against Paraguay in Las Vegas June 28 and the group final is July 2 against Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford will host the first semifinal matchup on July 9. Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina will host the other semifinal on July 10 and the third-place match on July 13.

“This will be the Copa America of the world because the reigning World Cup champion will be participating, and also, we will have the best player in the world,” said Alejandro Dominguez, president of CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation.

“We are here to change football in this country and celebrate all the teams that will travel here for this tournament,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

The four groups seem evenly matched, based on FIFA rankings.

A: Argentina (1), Peru (26), Chile (37), Canada (48) or Trinidad and Tobago (96)

B: Mexico (12), Ecuador (36), Venezuela (49), Jamaica (55)

C: USA (11), Uruguay (15), Panama (44), Bolivia (85)

D: Brazil (3), Colombia (17), Paraguay (53), Costa Rica (52) or Honduras (76).

As the host nation, the U.S. team has a special responsibility, Berhalter said.

“The whole idea with this and the World Cup is trying to captivate the public and grow the game,” he said. “We want the public to get to know our players as people because it’s a special group of guys, and we want to perform well so that everyone wants to turn on the TV and watch us.”

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Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, Super Bowls and has been the soccer writer and University of Miami basketball beat writer for 25 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.



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