Copa America is coming to the United States in 2016. The 10 South American countries, the U.S., Mexico and four other CONCACAF nations will compete in a truly giant tournament that can really challenge the Euros in terms of buzz, excitement and quality.
But all it not well. Yet.
The 2016 Copa America is not yet on the FIFA calendar and CONCACAF teams are technically guests so club teams will not have to release players for it. As wonderful as the tournament sounds, it may not actually be the congregation of the Americas' best talent that everyone has hoped for.
"I'm not clear if it will be on a FIFA date or not," said Figueredo. "We have been of late insisting that should be on the FIFA calendar."
USSF president Sunil Gulati has said repeatedly that the tournament doesn't make much sense if it doesn't get onto the FIFA calendar and that remains true. If clubs aren't obligated to release players than Copa America 2016 becomes a money grab and nothing more.
Without full releases, the U.S. would go to the tournament without Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Fabian Johnson or Aron Johannsson, not to mention other players who could move to Europe in the next two years. The team could feature the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis and Tony Beltran starting, fine players in their own right and good stewards for the U.S., but hardly who the Americans show off to the world.
Even Mexico would have issues, playing without Javier Hernandez, Hector Moreno, Diego Reyes, Andres Guardado, Javier Aquino or Giovani dos Santos. Honduras would be without Maynor Figueroa and Andy Najar, while Bryan Oviedo and Joel Campbell would be out for Costa Rica. That doesn't scream major tournament.
And that is all assuming MLS, Liga MX and the rest of the domestic leagues release players. That is not a given for each league and if not, it becomes a farce in a hurry.
The beauty of hosting the tournament in the U.S. is the giant, state of the art stadiums that will host matches. There will be a slew of full 60,000, 70,000, or even 90,000 seat stadiums, providing the setting for a truly massive tournament. The idea of Brazil, Argentina and the rest of South America's clubs joining the U.S. and Mexico for a meaningful trophy will bring people to TV sets too, not to mention sponsors, but what does that mean without the best players on the field?
That is the next step for CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and FIFA. They need to figure out a way to get Copa America 2016 on the calendar, or this will be a fraction of the tournament it could be.