Written by: Julio Vega
Don’t let the winter season freeze your soccer spirits. A new year is just around the corner, which means we’re inching closer to the 2024 edition of the Copa America. Next summer, we’ll see some of the sport’s hottest stars compete in the world’s longest-running international tournament.
The best part: it’s all in our own backyard.
Soccer fans in Atlanta and Miami can rejoice, with Mercedes-Benz Stadium set to host the inaugural match while the final will take place at Hard Rock Stadium. Other cities wait to see if they’ll take part in the summer soccer party.
The ultimate prize will be up for grabs among 16 teams – 10 representatives from CONMEBOL and the rest coming from Concacaf. The full picture of the competition is starting to come into focus as the Concacaf Nations League semifinalists booked automatic tickets to the finals.
The U.S. Men’s National Team, a two-time defending Nations League champion, took care of business against Trinidad and Tobago with a 4-2 aggregate win. High-flying left-back Antonee Robinson scored in both legs while super-sub Ricardo Pepi and silky playmaker Gio Reyna also found the net.
Reigning Gold Cup trophy-holder Mexico overcame a feisty Honduras side, advancing through a penalty shootout following a 2-2 aggregate score. Free-kick specialist Luis Chávez and midfield commander Edson Álvarez powered La Selección Azteca to a comeback in the second leg.
After reaching the Gold Cup final last summer, Panama continued its upward trajectory by cruising past Costa Rica, 6-1. Los Canaleros scored three times in each leg, with seasoned forward José Fajardo netting in both games.
Finally, Jamaica got the better of Canada, advancing through away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw. Shamar Nicholson bagged three goals in the tie while Premier League forward Bobby De Cordova-Reid added another to help the Reggae Boys qualify for their third Copa America.
The final two teams from Concacaf will be determined via a pair of single-game playoffs next March, with Trinidad and Tobago taking on Canada while Costa Rica battles Honduras.
North America’s standouts will join a slew of South American stars at the tournament. Reigning Copa America and FIFA World Cup™ champion Argentina aims to retain its status as the globe’s best team, with Lionel Messi leading the way.
Uruguay refreshed its experienced squad with a new generation of stars. Darwin Núñez spearheads the attack, Federico Valverde commands the midfield, and they’ll line up alongside captain José María Giménez. Colombia and Ecuador are also on the rise, with Luis Díaz bringing new life to Los Cafeteros’ attack. Moisés Caicedo shines as La Tricolor’s midfield linchpin.
Normally a powerhouse, Brazil looks like a sleeping giant this time around. The squad has yet to reach its full potential, but with stars like Vini Jr., Bruno Guimarães and Alisson Becker, along with several young burgeoning stars, such as Rodrygo, Gabriel Martinelli and Endrick, the Seleção boasts the quality to wake up in a flash.
The Copa America is still months away, but the anticipation for it only heats up as we get closer to the summer tournament.