As we count down the 16 best moments in 2016, we arrive at the No. 12 spot: the Copa America Centenario.
For the first time in the tournament’s 100 years of existence, it was held outside of South America in 10 cities throughout the U.S. Luckily for fans in the Bay Area, one of those locations was Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara.
The home of the San Francisco 49ers hosted some of the most important games in the tournament disputed amongst the biggest teams. National teams from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, United States and Uruguay played in the Bay Area, with the U.S. and Colombia kicking off the tournament in Santa Clara on June 3.
On June 6, fans got a sneak peak as to what the final would be when Argentina and Chile faced each other at the sold-out stadium, although the 2-1 win for Argentina was not an accurate prediction for the final result.
The most memorable game, however, took place between Chile, who eventually won the tournament defeating Argentina 4-2 on penalties, and Mexico. Fans and soccer analysts alike were expecting a competitive game, but Chile ended up thrashing Mexico 7-0.
Games at Levi’s® Stadium
June 3, 2016: USA 0 – 2 Colombia
June 6, 2016: Argentina 2 – 1 Chile
June 13, 2016: Uruguay 3 – 0 Jamaica
June 18, 2016: Mexico 0 – 7 Chile
The Copa America not only provided exciting soccer games for the fans to watch, the Earthquakes Academy also enjoyed the benefits of having some of the biggest names in soccer training in the area.
In preparation for their opening match against Chile at Levi’s® Stadium, Argentina trained nearby at San Jose State. Argentina sought a professional academy to train with them for the week, and members of the U-16, U-18 academy teams and the Burlingame Dragons FC took advantage of the opportunity.
“They truly made us feel like we were a part of their special group and their preparation as they headed into their match against Chile,” said interim general manager Chris Leitch. “Our players on the U-16 and U-18 teams as well as those on the PDL team, got the chance of a lifetime and handled themselves like young professions through this experience.”
U-16 goalkeeper Dominic Peters participated in multiple days of morning training sessions.
“It was just surreal speaking to Sergio Romero during finishing drills,” he said. “He gave me a few pointers while we took shots from the San Jose State players.”
“I was put into a finishing drill on one of the last days with all of the Argentine strikers Messi, Aguero and Lamela,” Peters said. “They were all participating. It was probably the best experience of the whole week. These are world-class players. Every shot was either nestled into the top corner or off the bar. It was unreal.”