Christian Pulisic is expected to be one of the stars at this summer's Copa America Centenario.
Christian Pulisic is expected to be one of the stars at this summer's Copa America Centenario.

Copa America Centenario preview: USMNT target glory on home turf

When the Copa America Centenario kicks off at Levi's Stadium on 3 June, host nation United States will be hoping to put a good foot forward both on and off the pitch.

The 16-team tournament gets under way with Jürgen Klinsmann's side taking on Colombia on Friday night, arguably their toughest opponents in Group A. Paraguay and Costa Rica complete the group with the USMNT hoping to maintain the momentum they have generated with wins over Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Bolivia in the build-up to the competition.

Boasting a large Bundesliga contingent within his ranks, Klinsmann believes his charges are capable of doing much more than just making up the numbers and, with home support behind them, the USMNT will undoubtedly fancy their chances of enjoying a run deep into the tournament. Indeed, should they end up winning it, they would become only the fourth host nation to do so.

Bundesliga star in focus

Christian Pulisic is a name that would barely have produced an ear prick seven months ago, but could now be considered a household name in US soccer circles. For many Pulisic is one of a number of promising talents that represent a changing of the guard in the USMNT ranks. The Hershey, Pennsylvania native will continue playing down his meteoric rise, yet his modesty does little to take the shine off what has been an incredible 2016 for the 17-year-old.

After bursting onto the scene in the second half of the season with Borussia Dortmund, the technically gifted youngster broke a handful of records and received high praise from all corners for his level-headed attitude and work ethic. Those qualities have also shown in the national team set-up and the Copa America is another chance for Pulisic to underline that he is well on his way to competing at the highest level.

Tournament aim

The USMNT have been in perfect form coming into the tournament but the opening game against Colombia will go a long way to deciding their fate in Group A. Win and a place in the semi-finals is attainable when taking into consideration the likely runner-up in Group B (Ecuador, Haiti or Peru). Lose and a potential tie with Brazil looms in the quarter finals. Either way getting out of the group is a must for Klinsmann and company.

What they're saying

Jürgen Klinsmann (head coach): "They realise this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play this Copa America in the United States. You see some youngsters now coming through, getting stronger, physically more developed. I think there's a lot more confidence in these younger players. I think the older guys, they know that. There are not many opportunities anymore like this Copa America, so they are fighting, and that's what you want. You want the established players to understand, 'Listen, if I'm not attentive now, somebody steals my spot.' It gives it a good drive right now in the camp, but a very respectful drive."


3 June 2016 (kick-off 21:30 ET/01:30 GMT): vs Colombia

7 June 2016 (kick-off 20:00 ET/00:00 GMT): vs Costa Rica

11 June 2016 (kick-off 18:00 ET/22:00 GMT): vs Paraguay

Possible line-up

Guzan - Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, Johnson - Bradley (c), Bedoya, Jones - Zardes, Dempsey, Wood

Coach: Jürgen Klinsmann