The 2016 Copa America Centenario kicks off on Friday June 3 with a Group A match featuring the United States, the host country, versus Colombia. Three games follow the next day as 16 nations divided into four groups will compete to win this 100th anniversary celebration of Copa America. Unlike the usual Copa America tournaments, which feature the South American CONMEBOL nations with a guest nation invited to fill out the tournament brackets, the Centenario will feature all ten CONMEBOL nations plus six qualifying nations from CONCACAF, the FIFA region representing North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Even though the tournament will be played across the Atlantic, 13 current Bundesliga players and several former players will be suiting up for their respective countries.
Brazil- Midfielders Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich) and Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
Chile- Midfielders Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) & Attacker Eduardo Vargas (Hoffenheim)
Costa Rica- None
Mexico- Attacker Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen)
Paraguay- Attacker Dario Lezcano (Ingolstadt)
USA- Defenders John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintract Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Midfielder Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), and Attacker Bobby Wood (Hamburger SV)
Venezuela- Defender Rolf Feltscher (Duisburg)
A number of former Bundesliga players are also on Copa America Centenario rosters include Peru’s Paolo Guererro (Bayern, HSV), Venezuela’s Tomas Rincón (HSV), Ecuador’s Carlos Gruezo (VfB Stuttgart), Chile’s Marcelo Diaz (HSV) and Gonzalo Jara (Mainz), Brazil’s Renato Augusto (Bayer Leverkusen), Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez (Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt) and Captain Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt of the United States. Panama’s Armando Cooper played briefly with St. Pauli in 2015.
Adding a bit more to the Bundesliga feel at the tournament, Jamaica’s coach Winfried Schäfer, 66, is a German who coached at Gladbach, Karlsruher SC, VfB Stuttgart and Tennis Borussia Berlin, while Mexico winger Jürgen Damm’s paternal grandfather is German and Damm holds a German passport.
There are far fewer players heading to the United States for the 100th anniversary of the founding of CONMEBOL and the first Copa America, than those who will be heading to France for the European Championships next month. The United States has the largest group of 5 players, while Brazil and Chile are the only other nations to have more than 1 representative. While there are fewer players in this tournament, each nation will be expecting key contributions from their Bundesliga stars. Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez and Ingolstadt’s Lezcano will be expected to score goals if Mexico and Paraguay are to advance past the group stages.
Fabian Johnson and John Brooks will play key roles for the United States defensively as well as helping bolster the attack while new Hamburg signee Bobby Wood is hoping to keep the momentum from his fine season at Union Berlin going for the United States. The Chilean trio of Aranguiz, Vidal and Vargas hope to repeat last year’s title away from home, when they defeated Argentina on penalties in the final in Santiago. The list shows a good mixture of field players, but there are no goalkeepers plying their trade in Germany that will be representing one of the 16 nations in the tournament.
Breakdown by Bundesliga Club:
Bayern Munich: 2
Bayer Leverkusen: 2
Hertha Berlin: 1
Eintract Frankfurt: 1
Borussia Monchengladbach: 1
Borussia Dortmund: 1
Hamburger SV: 1
Perhaps not surprisingly, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen are the only clubs to have multiple players in the tournament, but over half the Bundesliga 1 sides will have a representative in the tournament. So fans of most of Germany’s top clubs will have a reason to follow the tournament, even if their focus happens to be on the Euros in France. Even Bundesliga 2 side Duisburg, who are fighting for Bundesliga 2 survival in the relegation playoff, will see one of their players representing their nations as their defender Rolf Feltscher will be hoping to help Venezuela make an impact in this tournament.
The group stages of Copa America Centenario will conclude on June 14 and the final will take place on Sunday June 26 at MetLife Stadium just outside of New York City.