At my church, we have some soccer fans who are as nuts about soccer as I am. I wore my new USA 2016 away kit on Friday in support of our men playing Colombia. I asked my friend, "Are you pumped about the Copa?" He gestured dismissively, "Oh, no! I'm ready for the Euros!" Granted, this gentleman was stationed in Germany and is a big Bayern Munich fan and follows European soccer big time, but hey, I had to ask.
I'm trying to get a gauge of how significant for American soccer fans the Copa Americano Centenario is in relation to the UEFA Euro 2016. Personally, any tournament where the USMNT are playing automatically holds priority. On the flip side of the coin, knowing that our chances of winning that tournament, much less progressing to the quarterfinals tempers my enthusiasm a bit.
Taking the question in the title straight up, does the Copa stand up in the same league as the Euros? I believe it does. With the Copa, you have Mexico (the US' main rival), Brazil, Argentina, Chile who play compelling and exciting soccer. You also have a truckload of MLS players contributing (like our Colorado Rapids' Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard), which is important for our league in moving forward to dispel the notion of our league being a 'retirement league.' MLS players are making an impact! (Posterity forces me to mention Blas Perez's brace against Bolivia in an impressive performance.)
As for the Euros, the usual suspects bring interest: England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, etc. have a history and a strength that draws as well, obviously. We as Rapids fans have Shkelzen Gashi ready to make some noise for Albania along with Kevin Doyle for Ireland, one of the few MLS connections we have in Europe
Personally, my interest is in Hungary. Yes, Hungary. This past August-September, I took a two-week missions trip with my church to Gyor and then Budapest. Tensions were quite high in Budapest, bringing the world's spotlight to that nation and their choices in dealing with immigrants coming through their country. I know everyone came to conclusions. I also know that I as an American did not feel I could impose my sensibilities on a country that had been around since the 800's--I had no superiority of judgment here.
But what I did was meet the Hungarian people and grew to care about them greatly. They have had a difficult history, with no major victories in any wars over the past 1200 years.
In other news regarding Hungarian football: Ferenc Puskas, who has an award named after him for the best, "most beautiful," goal of the year. The football they played in the 1950s was very special.
But I digress from Hungarian football.
The Copas will always hold sway over the Euros because (1) the USA is involved, (2) MLS players are involved en masse, and (3) I root against the USA's primary rival, Mexico.
So where are you? Do the Copas capture your primary interest, or are you just biding your time and waiting for the Euros to start? Let's talk about it!