May 1, 2014, 9:12 PM EDT
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!
- 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.
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