copa_america_centenario

What would a Copa America Centenario field, draw look like? Let’s get hypothetical

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A 16-team, U.S.-based Copa America sounds great, but until the well after 2015 Gold Cup, we won’t know who’s actually playing. Granted, 12 spots are set — the 10 South American teams; Mexico; and the United States — but the champions for the Caribbean and Central America won’t be known for until later this year. The two remaining spots will go to the winners of a four-team playoff among the top four non-qualified finishers in next year’s CONCACAF Championship …

All of which is big fun-killer, right now. But what if we looked back at the previous Gold, Caribbean, and Central American Cups and used that to fuel our imaginations?

In other words, if CONCACAF’s tournaments play out like they did in 2012 and 2013, what will the Centenario Copa look like?

If you’re not into hypotheticals and thought experiments, “Ctrl+W” now. If, however, you feel like playing along, here’s who would have qualified:

  • South American teams (10): Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
  • CONCACAF automatic qualifiers (2): Mexico, United States
  • Caribbean champions: Cuba
  • Central America champions: Costa Rica
  • Four other top finishers, Gold Cup: Honduras, Panama (Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador)*

* Those four would enter a tournament to determine the final spots. Since Honduras and Panama made last year’s semifinals, we’re pretending they won the tournament. Congratulations, Honduras and Panama!

But why stop there? Those teams have to be draw into groups eventually, right? Luckily I just finished a pack of Starbuck and have all these little pieces of paper sitting around. Let’s do this!

The pots:

  • Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States go into Pot 1
  • The rest of CONCACAF’s teams go into Pot 2
  • Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay go into Pot 3
  • Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela go into Pot 4

Copa America’s 2015 results might have a say in who goes into which post, but generally, this way ensures a.) no more than two CONCACAF teams end up in one group; b.) each group has at least one CONCACAF representative; and c.) South America’s other strong teams (here, the World Cup qualifiers) get dispersed. Bottom line: We needed some kind of methodology to do a draw.

Wrappers in a trash bag, four at time, here we go:

  • Group A: Argentina, Panama, Ecuador, Peru
  • Group B: Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay
  • Group C: United States, Honduras, Uruguay, Venezuela
  • Group D: Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Bolivia

I can’t believe the U.S. got the Group of Death! Sorry – just a reflex. These groups actually look pretty even. Then again, with my patented methodology, it was hard to have a truly killer group. The worst possible would have been Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, and Venezuela. That’s stacked, but if Costa Rica and Venezuela aren’t in the final eight, we’re not going to cry about it.

As for the rest of the tournament? My imagination’s tapped out, but thanks to my favorite fruit chew, I have a much better idea of what this Centenario-thing might look like two years from now.

 

Ex-Guatemalan soccer chief pleads guilty in FIFA bribe case

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.

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Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.

The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.

Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.

Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.

D.C. United acquires Igboananike from Fire in trade

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MARCH 06:  Andrea Pirlo #21 of the New York City FC looks to pass against Kennedy Igboananike #77 of the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on March 6, 2016 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The New York City FC defeated the Fire 4-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With the playoffs still very much in sight, D.C. United is making another attempt to boost its struggling attack.

[ MORE: NYCFC, Rapids meet in Bronx on Saturday ]

After recently trading for New York City FC forward Patrick Mullins and New York Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam, D.C. has completed a trade for Chicago Fire attacker Kennedy Igboananike in exchange for target allocation money and a third-round draft selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

In over a season-and-a-half in MLS with the Fire, Igboananike notched 11 goals and four assists in 49 matches. The Nigerian forward is a Designated Player, and is due to make over $900,000, according to the MLS Players’ Union website.

[ MORE: Christian Vieri trying to make comeback in Chinese Super League ]

D.C United is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, sitting on 20 points through 21 matches. The team is four points behind the New England Revolution for the final playoff position.

Report: Atletico set to offer $52 million for Chelsea’s Costa

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Diego Costa of Chelsea shoots past Thiago Silva of PSG to score a gol to level the scores at 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, second leg match between Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 9, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Already with one of the world’s most dangerous attacks, Atletico Madrid is prepared to add another dimension into the mix.

[ MORE: Man City makes final bid for defender John Stones ]

Daily Mail is reporting that the Spanish side is prepared to offer Chelsea over $52 million for striker Diego Costa, who joined the team from Atletico back in 2014.

While the Blues have maintained their position that Costa isn’t for sale, Atletico looks to boost its already strong offense with the 27-year-old Spaniard. Diego Simeone’s group already features talented attacking duo Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres.

During his previous stint in La Liga, Costa netted 56 goals across all competitions in two seasons with the Rojiblancos.

[ MORE: Christian Vieri trying to make comeback in Chinese Super League ]

Chelsea is reportedly pursuing former striker Romelu Lukaku after signing Belgian Michy Batshuayi this summer. Antonio Conte’s side also features young forward Bertrand Traore, who has made a strong impression during the preseason.

Report: Manchester City makes final bid for John Stones

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Diego Costa of Chelsea and John Stones of Everton compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on January 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Take it or leave it.

Manchester City has made a final push for Everton defender John Stones, and has set its last offer at $52 million. Last month, the Citizens made the same exact bid for the 22-year-old, which was rejected by Everton.

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City is said to be looking to avoid overpaying for Stones, after compensating Porto over $55 million for centerback Eliaquim Mangala two years ago.

While Stones has gone on record saying that he wants to play for manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, it remains to be seen if Everton will part ways with its prized defender.