The United States will host Copa America in 2016, which will be a 16-team tournament including the 10 teams from South America and six from CONCACAF. CONMEBOL agreed to the plan on Wednesday, deciding to send the tournament to the U.S., where the Americans will be joining by Mexico and four other CONCACAF teams in the competition.
A Copa America including CONCACAF has been rumored for years and if it was going to be played it was always going to be in the U.S. That caused some problems in South America, where countries opposed the idea of playing their continental championship in North America. That led to this decision, which will keep Copa America in South America on its regular schedule in 2015 and 2019, but send it to the U.S. in 2016 as part of the tournament's centennial celebration, marking 100 years since the first Copa America.
The tournament will be played in July, presumably after Euro 2016 concludes, setting up a summer full of the world's best soccer.
Copa America 2016 will be the highest level competition that the U.S. has ever hosted aside from the 1994 World Cup. The South American championship is considered the third-best tournament in the world, behind the World Cup and Euro, and includes some of the world's best teams like Brazil and Argentina. Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay and Chile, among others, have had excellent teams in some years, too, strengthening the tournament further.
Normally CONMEBOL invites two guest teams to Copa America, with Mexico always getting one place and another team getting the other. The U.S. has participated before and Costa Rica has been a regular invitee, while Japan will take the spot in 2015. This is the first time that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF are truly joining for the tournament, though.
The tournament will be a cash cow for CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and anyone else involved in it. The U.S. has a slew of massive stadiums to host the matches, which should be full for most, if not all of the tournament. Sponsors will flock to the tournament as well and the TV rights should sell for a pretty penny as well.
The long-rumored tournament is now official, or has at least been confirmed by CONMEBOL. We'll see what CONCACAF and the USSF has to say, but for now, world class soccer is coming to the U.S. on a level not seen since 1994.