Copa Centenario, News

Copa America Centenario Day Four: All We Really Want Is Goals

by on 7 June 2016

A word about the attendance

Did you know? Bolivia vs. Panama might not be a particularly popular match for American fans. That’s right: it wasn’t a sellout! Be still, my beating heart!

For some observers, the lagging attendances has been a knock on this tournament (never mind that a tropical storm was barreling toward Orlando, were Panama was playing Bolivia, last night). I’m not sure if Panama-Bolivia would have been a sellout in either La Paz or Panama City, either. Bolivia is a bad South American team, Panama an okay Central American one, and both countries aren’t exactly next door to Orlando, where the game was played.

This is not the World Cup, and this game did not have the attention of the soccer world. Who cares? This is the closest Panama has ever been to a World Cup, and Bolivia has been to the biggest stage once since 1950. Just because it drew the same sparse crowd that usually shows up at FC Dallas games didn’t make it less important for the people on the field, or less fun to watch.

Anyway, we’re through the first round of games. Let’s start appreciating this tournament for what it actually is.

Panama 2, Bolivia 1

Quick recap: Blas Perez scored early and late to clinch the win for Panama in their first-ever game in the Copa America. Here’s the second goal, in the 87th minute:

The second half of this game was a pretty good combination of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF. It was played in a monsoon; it was in constant danger of devolving into a riot or the second act of an opera; the referee called three million fouls, handed out three dozen cards, and in general looked like an overmatched kindergarten teacher on his first day of student teaching.

A win was huge for Panama, which will now entertain dreams of taking a point off of Argentina or Chile (or both!) and qualifying for the second round. Meanwhile, Bolivia is officially on vacation for the summer. Their new goal is to ruin things for either Argentina or Chile.

Argentina 2, Chile 1

The big headline in this one was NO MESSI REPEAT NO MESSI, but Argentina was fine. (The great little man had a back problem and didn’t play.) Anyway, this kind of thing is more what we all envisioned when we thought about how entertaining this tournament would be – two CONMEBOL powerhouses, stars of the world game, and three goals, including a pair of counterattacking classics from Argentina.

Again, just like we’ve already written off Bolivia, we now have Argentina penciled into the D1 spot in the quarterfinal bracket. Chile, meanwhile, has some work to do, with Panama three points ahead of them. They will work to pummel Bolivia on Friday; assuming that happens, along with Argentina rolling past Panama, that’ll set up an entertaining Chile-Panama match in the final group-stage game, with the victor going to the quarterfinals.

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