The prestigious soccer tournament is held for the first time in the US as it celebrates 100 years
To paraphrase some lyrics from Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical, history is happening in Manhattan – well, East Rutherford, NJ and around the United States — and you just happen to be in the greatest city in the world for it. Taking place this June will be a month-long celebration of “The Beautiful Game”, as COPA America Centenario USA 2016 comes to the area. Marking the 100th anniversary of its inception, this is the first time this prestigious tournament is being held outside South America.
Beginning June 3rd, the soccer world will focus its attention on these 30 matches played over 24 days across 10 U.S. cities. Comprised of six teams from CONCACAF (Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, United States) and 10 teams from CONMEBOL (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela) the tournament will feature some of the most elite players in the world, all vying for a spot in the Final game to be played at MetLife Stadium, just a stone’s throw from midtown Manhattan.
It was an easy choice to hold the ultimate match there given the multitude of significant events that have taken place on its floor, from New York Jets and Giants games to sold out Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift concerts to previous international soccer matches.
“The United States has hosted matches against five-time World Cup champion Brazil and then No 1-ranked Argentina,” said Neil Buethe, spokesperson with the Copa America Centenario Local Organizing Committee. “The stadium has also been home to sold out doubleheaders of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.”
In 2012, the venue held a match between the aforementioned Argentina and Brazil before 81,994 fans, the most ever for a soccer match in the state of New Jersey. And in 2015, it saw one of the biggest events in the world, the Super Bowl. But you can be sure more worldwide eyes will be on it come Sunday, June 26th.
“The 82,000 seat stadium will host the climactic match of the summer’s special edition of the South American championship – a once-in-a-lifetime event that will honor 100 years of history and will feature some of the world’s best teams and players,” said Beuthe.
Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), James Rodriguez (Colombia) and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Mexico) are among the global superstars expected to take the pitch for their respective nations, along with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, the current faces of U.S. Soccer.
In addition to the championship contest, MetLife Stadium will also host Ecuador vs. Haiti (June 12, 6:30 p.m.) and one of the Quarterfinal matches (June 17, 8 p.m.).
Tickets and Getting There from NYC
If you would like to witness this historic event in person – and goodness what a frenzied, unparalleled scene it will be – you may purchase tickets at CA2016.com, ticketmaster.com or the MetLife Stadium box office. The stadium is easily accessible via public transportation, using the Meadowlands Rail Service from Penn Station or the Coach Bus Lines from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Official Fan Experience
The verve and flavor of the city soccer fanatics will be on full display throughout June. And there will be lots of outlets for you to engage and be part of the festivities. Copa America Centenario FanHQ, presented by Sprint, is the official fan destination, offering an opportunity to connect with fans from around the world. Located at Terminal 5 (610 W. 56th street), the New York City event will take place on Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. That evening’s match will be played on large video screens and there will also be live music along with food, beverage and Copa merchandise for purchase. Registration is free and can be found at www.ca2016.com/fan-events.
Where to Watch and Join the Party
The palpable passion of New York’s diversity will be obvious to anyone in the bars, bodegas, delis, parks, restaurants and streets of the five boroughs. Around town will be the bright-colors, festive music and frenzied fans, all synonymous with international soccer. With so many New Yorkers or their families originally from every country represented in the tournament and so many more making the trip for this occasion, supporters and revelers will be out drinking, eating, singing and dancing, especially on game day. Whether you are from one of the countries playing, a casual fan or know absolutely nothing about soccer, this will be one of the parties of the year.
You will be among throngs of people rooting for the same team which for this tournament, will be an unrivaled experience. With a little research or just by asking someone sporting a jersey, you will find a terrific place to go watch.
- Legends (6 W. 33rd Street)
Also known as The Football Factory, this is the place in Manhattan to watch soccer. The place. The USA games will be especially fun at this midtown locale.
- Nevada Smiths (300 W. 40th Street)
All soccer, all the time, the décor and scenery will let you know you are in the right place.
- Esperanto (145 Avenue C at 9th Street)
Feel as if you instantly went to Rio and soak in the atmosphere of this super cool spot, especially when the Brazil matches are going on. And when the game is over you’ll be in Alphabet City. Can’t get much cooler than all that (P.S. The part of town known as Little Brazil is on West 46th Street east of Seventh Avenue).
But for those truly in the know, there is one place to go to capture the spirit and vibe of Copa America Centenario. If you are looking for authentic soccer flavor along with the sights and sounds of Latin America, head out to the borough of Queens. It will be worth the trip. With too many to list, here are two outstanding choices.
- Basurero (32-17 Steinway Street, Astoria)
Worth the short subway ride, especially if you support Colombia or want to feel like you do for the game. And just think, the tournament’s opening match is USA vs Colombia (Friday, June 6, 9:30 p.m.) This may be the best time you have for a while.
- Studio Square (35-33 36th Street, Astoria)
With giant outdoor screens, tons of space and people from everywhere looking to have a fabulous few hours, this is like Spring Break meets soccer tournament. You will have too much fun.