U.S. put in deepest four-team group for Copa America

Alexi Lalas reacts after drawing the first ball of the night during the 2016 Copa America draw in New York on Sunday.

Alexi Lalas reacts after drawing the first ball of the night during the 2016 Copa America draw in New York on Sunday.

(Elsa / Getty Images)

The first Copa America to be played in the U.S. won’t be an easy one for the host country, which will play in the deepest of the four four-team groups that were drawn Sunday.

The U.S. is paired with two 2014 World Cup quarterfinalists in Colombia and Costa Rica, plus Paraguay, a semifinalist in last year’s Copa America.

But Coach Juergen Klinsmann, who guided the U.S. out of the so-called Group of Death two years ago in Brazil, said he was welcoming the challenge Sunday’s draw presented as well.


“Obviously Colombia is one of the top teams in South America,” he told Univision after the nationally televised draw in New York. “And also Costa Rica, a very strong side. It’s a very difficult group but it’s doable and this is what a Copa America is about. You want to measure yourself with the best teams from South America and also our region.

“So we can’t wait to get it started.”

The Americans will open the tournament against Colombia on June 3 in Santa Clara before going on to play Costa Rica in Chicago four days later. They will conclude group play June 11 in Philadelphia against Paraguay.

Meanwhile Mexico, the top seed in Group C, drew what looks to be one of the easiest groups. El Tri was matched with Uruguay, Jamaica and Venezuela, the latter two having failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1998.

“We are very satisfied with our group,” said new Mexican Coach Juan Carlos Osorio. “It’s a good combination. ... It’s going to be a very good challenge for us.”

Mexico will open its tournament against Uruguay on June 5 in Glendale, Ariz., then play Jamaica at the Rose Bowl four days later before closing group play against Venezuela on June 13 in Houston.

Teams must finish first or second in group play to advance to the knockout round of the 23-day tournament, which concludes June 26 in East Rutherford, N.J.

Klinsmann said advancing is his team’s goal.

“It’s definitely going through the group,” he told Univision. “And then take it one game at time. We are very ambitious. We want to do well. We will do well.

“But again it’s not an easy group. We know that.”

In the other two groups, Brazil was matched with Ecuador, Haiti and Peru while Argentina, a finalist in the last World Cup, was placed with Chile, Panama and Bolivia. In the final of last summer’s Copa America, Chile played Argentina to a scoreless draw before winning the title on penalty kicks.

This summer’s tournament will mark the 100th anniversary of the Copa America, which predates the World Cup and has traditionally served as the South American championship. It will be played in 10 U.S. cities this June with organizers anticipating a total attendance of more than 2 million.

Three first-round games will be played the Rose Bowl in Pasadena with Brazil facing Ecuador on June 4 and Colombia meeting Paraguay on June 7 in addition to the Mexico-Jamaica match June 9.

Group A

U.S., Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay


June 3: U.S. vs. Colombia, Santa Clara

June 4: Costa Rica vs. Paraguay, Orlando, Fla.

June 7: U.S. vs. Costa Rica, Chicago; Colombia vs. Paraguay, Rose Bowl

June 11: U.S. vs. Paraguay. Philadelphia; Colombia vs. Costa Rica, Houston

Group B

Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru


June 4: Brazil vs. Ecuador, Rose Bowl; Haiti vs. Peru, Seattle

June 8: Brazil vs. Haiti, Orlando, Fla.; Ecuador vs. Peru, Glendale, Ariz.

June 12: Brazil vs. Peru, Foxborough, Mass.; Ecuador vs. Haiti, East Rutherford, N.J.

Group C

Mexico, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela


June 5: Mexico vs. Uruguay, Glendale, Ariz.; Jamaica vs. Venezuela, Chicago

June 9: Mexico vs. Jamaica, Rose Bowl; Uruguay vs. Venezuela, Philadelphia.

June 13: Mexico vs. Venezuela, Houston; Uruguay vs. Jamaica, Santa Clara.

Group D

Argentina, Chile, Panama, Bolivia


June 6: Argentina vs. Chile, Santa Clara; Panama vs. Bolivia, Orlando, Fla.

June 10: Argentina vs. Panama, Chicago; Chile vs. Bolivia, Foxborough, Mass.

June 14: Argentina vs. Bolivia, Seattle; Chile vs. Panama, Philadelphia.


June 16: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up, Seattle

June 17: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up, East Rutherford, N.J.

June 18: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up, Foxborough, Mass.; Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up, Santa Clara


June 21: Houston

June 22: Chicago

Third-place game

June 25: Glendale, Ariz.


June 26: East Rutherford, N.J.