Copa America is the championship of the Americas: national teams from all 10 nations in the South American federation, plus the top six teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean: U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and Haiti. The centennial edition is being played in the U.S. for the first time, all across the nation from June 3-26. As seems the norm, the United States is drawn into the toughest group for the first round, but there's some newfound optimism in their camp, after three recent wins in tune-up games, and solid performances from a new generation of talent such as DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Bobby Wood, Gyasi Zardes, and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic. We'll see how that plays out pretty quickly; the U.S. opens against Colombia, ranked No. 4 in the world, this Friday, June 3, at 8:30pm CT. The USA's other group stage games are against Costa Rica, 7pm, Tue., June 7 in Chicago, and Paraguay, 6pm, Sat., June 11 in Philadelphia. All games will be shown live on Fox Sports and Univision, and on TVs in soccer bars around town. See the full schedule and more info at www.ca2016.com.
Then the other big continental tournament, the quadrennial European Championship, kicks off next Friday, June 10 in France, running through July 10; more on that next week.
The nonprofit organization Soccer Assist holds a Soccer Social/Fundraiser this Friday, June 3 at Rock Rose Hall, with U.S. soccer legends Landon Donovan and Brian Ching in attendance. It's already sold out at press time, but see more info at www.soccerassist.org.