This closes the loop on Week 7’s most outrageous, surreal moment.
Seconds after scoring a dramatic, late game-winning goal to beat the MLS Cup champions, FC Dallas center back George John was left bloodied by an aluminum beer bottle thrown from the nearby supporters group area, just behind the FC Dallas Stadium north stands.
John needed stitches to close the gash in his head but was otherwise in good humor about the entire, bizarre episode.
Authorities have identified the individual who threw an object onto the field during Saturday’s match against the LA Galaxy. We sincerely appreciate the FC Dallas supporters who helped identify the person responsible. This individual was not a member of any of our supporters’ groups, and as a result of his actions, he has been banned from FC Dallas Stadium and complex.”
The team also announced that it will no longer sell beer in the aluminum cans; smart choice. Let’s hope other clubs take note if they are still selling aluminum bottles. Because fans do react, and things do get thrown. We see it every week.
The trick, of course, is not to offer up anything dangerous for the mad moments when emotion takes over. The most damage a cup of beer is likely to do: dousing the person in front of you.
Runners-up in three of the last four Copa America tournaments, Argentina would love to break through for a title in the United States. The 1991 and 1993 winners are going on 23 years without a championship.
Star player: Lionel Messi — What else needs to be said for the world’s best player, other than his international record is missing some titles. The Copa America is one of them.
It goes well for them if they play within any reasonable distance of their talent. With Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina run through the group stage and cruise to a final.
But what if Messi is just drained, and neither Aguero and Higuain carry over their club form for country. Second place in this group is no waltz through the knockouts, as Uruguay knocks out the Argentines and cue up more questions about Messi in his national team uniform.
Alexis Sanchez (below) and La Roja look to build on its first ever Copa America crown, won on home soil last summer in somewhat controversial fashion.
Star player: Arturo Vidal — Yes, Alexis Sanchez might deliver shots, but Vidal stirs the drink. The tempestuous midfielder has everything it takes to turn a game on its head.
Deep from top to bottom: Chile powers through Argentina and then lays waste to Bolivia, able to rest many stars against Panama before beating Group C’s runner-up to set itself up for a repeat of its 2015 title run.
A combustible lineup and aging core combine to leave Chile struggling after a big loss to Argentina. Unable to gather itself together, the Chileans stumble to a draw against Bolivia that leaves them Group D’s runner-up and the victim of Uruguay in the knockout rounds.
This is a sneaky capable unit coming off a third place finish in the Gold Cup.
Star player: We’ll tap Jaime Penedo, perhaps the lynchpin of a veteran squad. The longtime New York Red Bulls keeper now calls Saprissa his home.
Now is the time for Panama’s experienced core to do big things; Blas Perez, Luis Tejeda, Gabriel Gomez and Felipe Baloy are likely on the end of their national team runs, and San Jose’s Panamaniacs connection of Alberto Quintero and Anibal Godoy — at 28 and 26 — are two of the younger parts of the unit.
But age is a factor when it comes to tournament play, and can Panama possibly outlast either Chile or Argentina? It’s unlikely.
Surprising quarterfinalists last summer, Bolivia sits second-last in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification table. Their only wins since late 2014 have come against Venezuela (2) and Ecuador, and there are a total of just 15 international goals in their 23-man squad.
Star player: Romel Quiñónez — The goalkeeper from Bolivar is set to get a lot of work.
This tournament goes well if: Bolivia handles Panama and manages a draw against Argentina or Chile.
But in all honesty: There will be growing pains for La Verde this summer in the U.S.
El Tri hopes to rebound from a difficult 2015 Copa America that saw them fail to win a match. Top Three appearances in the tournament were once the expectation for Mexico, and being closer to home will raise expectations. And rightly so, as this Mexico team is still in the midst of a very good generation of players.
Star player: Andres Guardado — The PSV Eindhoven midfielder can control a game like a wizard, weaving the ball through back lines and seemingly always in the right place on the pitch.
What a run: Mexico hasn’t lost a single match its 2015 Copa America ouster at the hands of Ecuador, a 17-match stretch that includes a sound defeat of the USMNT in the CONCACAF Cup and a draw against Argentina. With Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta firing, Mexico has it in them to make a run to the final. Oh, and El Tri hasn’t allowed a goal in six matches.
But are they sheep in wolves’ clothing? Mexico may be on an incredible run of form, but that win over a moribund U.S. isn’t much to love, and those 17 matches include a pretty weak slate of opponents. Are Mexico’s last few Copa Americas (11th and 12th place finishes) more indicative of its 2016 fate?
Edinson Cavani will be the star man in the group stage as Uruguay attempts to win its second tournament in three tries. La Celeste have won four Copa Americas and been to six finals.
Star player: Diego Godin — With Luis Suarez’ entire tournament in question, defense is a back part of Uruguay’s hopes. Godin will likely earn his 100th cap during the tournament. With the Atletico Madrid back might be coming off a UEFA Champions League final, and confidence could be a key part of Uruguay’s back line.
And here we go… La Celeste leads CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying through six matches, and Uruguay looks primed to succeed despite the potential loss of Suarez through the group stage. They can navigate that problem thanks to Diego Rolan, Abel Hernandez and Edinson Cavani, and shouldn’t have any trouble with a this group.
But Suarez, though: Yes, Uruguay has depth, but replacing a man who scored 59 goals in 53 games for Barcelona this season? Woof. See what happened when Neymar was injured late in the World Cup for Brazil. Star injuries can sap a team’s courage, and that could hurt Uruguay.
Three straight 1-0 losses saw the Reggae Boyz bounced from the 2015 edition of the tournament, their maiden voyage at Copa America.
Star player: Wes Morgan — Talk about momentum: Jamaica’s strong Gold Cup run worked almost seamlessly into his fairytale season in the middle of Leicester City’s back line.
Coming into its own? After several years off the radar, Winfried Schafer has Jamaica looking capable of doing well in a tournament setting. With a good group of backs including Morgan, Adrian Mariappa and Kemar Lawrence, it’ll be tough for anyone to break down the Reggae Boyz.
All a mirage: Jamaica’s surprising Gold Cup run might’ve been a red herring. Jamaica has lost four of seven matches since Mexico bounced them in controversial fashion.
Los Llaneros have the misfortune of being in the deep, deep confederation on CONMEBOL, but that doesn’t excuse a brutal year. After beating Colombia to kickoff the 2015 Copa America, Venezuela has won exactly one game. That was a 1-0 win over Costa Rica, and the national team has been dealing with controversy and internal strife.
Star player: Salomon Rondon — West Bromwich Albion’s big striker can turn a defense on its heels with powerful turns and good use of his frame.
Underdog story of a lifetime: With wily veterans making what could be their last runs for the national team, Venezuela sneaks through a winnable group by out-muscling Jamaica and Mexico while battening down the hatches against Uruguay. The world takes notice.
But really, though… We’d be talking about the tournament equivalent of a Leicester City season. Three-and-out.
And scoring a 90th minute winner against Ecuador, even in a 1-0 friendly win, is going to help his odds of sticking in the coach’s mind. Klinsmann said Nagbe “knows he has to push the envelope”, and lauded him for doing so while cautioning that he’s never questioned the offensive acumen of Portland Timbers’ man.
“Now you also want to tell him ‘Listen, you’ve got to make an impression. You’ve got to learn to play both ways and grind it out defensively, go into 1v1s and win balls as well,’” Klinsmann said.
“And that’s just going forward. He has tremendous talent with the ball at his feet going forward. That’s what we enjoy in MLS every weekend. But the international side is both ways, and that’s what we’re working on. And he’s getting better and better at doing that.”
Nagbe was among a handful of U.S. players to shine during a dominant second half that saw the Timbers midfielder snare the decisive goal, and it’s not a stretch to say he was the brightest. Let’s hope to see him get a chance to start on Saturday against Bolivia.