The U.S. men's national soccer team will kick off its run in the Copa America tournament in Venezuela on June 28. VOA's Jim Stevenson has more on the U.S. team that is competing in the biennial event for the first time since 1995.
The draw for the 12-nation event was held in Caracas on Wednesday. The United States was placed in Group-C and will open against Argentina. Paraguay and Colombia are also in the group.
Speaking to the media in a conference call following the draw, U.S. coach Bob Bradley said the tournament will be a good test for his players.
"Whenever we have the opportunity to play against teams like Mexico and Argentina, we are seeing how our players stack up against the best teams," Bradley said. "And we understand how important it is that we play well, that we are able to compete and still play for results.
Peru and Uruguay join Bolivia and host Venezuela in Group-A. Reigning champion Brazil will open defense of its Copa America title against Mexico in Group-B. Chile and Ecuador are also in the group.
The United States and Mexico are not members of the South American Football Confederation and are playing by invitation. U.S. coach Bob Bradley says it is a special event.
"We are excited about our participation in Copa America," Bradley says. "I think quite obviously we have been put in a very competitive group. When we decided that we wanted to enter Copa America, we did so with the hope and the understanding that we would have excellent games for our players. And I know that will be the case."
Bradley says the opening game against Argentina will present special challenges to his players.
"They have some tremendous players, real stars," Bradley says. "And whenever you play against a team like that, obviously the bar gets raised to incredible heights in terms of what every player on the field must do, how they must step up, how they must concentrate. Argentina is not only a team that is very good with the ball, but they are a team that understands how to put pressure on the opponent.
Host Venezuela plays the tournament opener against Bolivia on June 26. Nine Venezuelan cites will host games. The Copa America concludes July 15.