This summer is about to get very good for soccer fans and it all starts tonight.
The U.S. takes on Colombia in the opener of the Copa America Centenario at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. That kicks off the biggest tournament to be played on American soil since the 1994 World Cup.
There’s been plenty of hype about the Copa America, from ads featuring Kobe Bryant to hype videos. Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez and Javier Hernandez are among the world superstars that will be taking part in the tournament. Huge crowds creating fun atmospheres will flock to the games and there will be cool watch parties, including one the Chicago Fire are hosting for the U.S. opener.
A few of the big ones will take place right here in Chicago at Soldier Field. The first game at Soldier Field is Sunday with Jamaica taking on Venezuela. In terms of prestige, this game is more of the warm-up to the main events that follow. On June 7, the U.S. will play Costa Rica in its first game in Chicago since the 2013 Gold Cup final against Panama, a 1-0 American victory.
Three days after that Messi's Argentina takes on Panama. If Messi plays it will mark the first, and possibly only, time arguably the greatest player of his generation will play a competitive match in Chicago. That’s something worth seeing. The entire tournament could be the only competitive matches Messi will play on this continent in his career.
Sure, Messi has been in Chicago before. He brought an exhibition to Soldier Field in 2013, but that was more of an All-Star game than something resembling a real match and the best highlight came from an out of contract Northwestern grad.
On top of that, Soldier Field will also host one of the semifinals on June 22. Unless one of the baseball teams makes the World Series, that will probably be the biggest event hosted at a Chicago venue in 2016.
If you’re a true soccer junkie and the Copa America isn’t enough, there’s also Euro 2016 going from June 10-July 10 and the Olympics from August 3-20. The U.S. Women can follow up on their World Cup title, but the men won’t be involved.
CSNChicago.com will have coverage of this crazy summer of soccer, including coverage from Soldier Field of the Copa America games in Chicago.