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U.S. to Open Against Copa Favorites
The Guardian, June 26th, 2007 4:30PM

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By the looks of the USA's 22-man squad, you'd think that Coach Bob Bradley is more interested in blooding new talent at the 2007 Copa America rather than actually winning it. Indeed, he isn't taking its most of his Gold Cup-winning stars, and while the Copa America may be little more than an experiment for the United States, the rest of the world clearly regards it as the international showcase of the summer.      

Unfortunately for U.S. fans, tournament favorite Argentina, the Americans' first opponent on Thursday, is sending its strongest team. The Argentines have certainly flattered to deceive as favorites before, but the Albicelestes desperately want this tournament, especially after being dumped out of the World Cup by host Germany on penalties at the World Cup last year, and also by Brazil in the 2004 Copa final two years before that. It's been a long time, in fact, since Argentina won a major international title -- the 1993 Copa America being its last significant triumph.

Headed by the fearsome quartet of Barcelona's Leo Messi, Boca Juniors' Juan Roman Riquelme, Inter Milan's Hernan Crespo and Estudiantes' Juan Sebastian Veron, Argentina will be a powerhouse moving forward. Its bench is equally impressive, too, boasting the likes of West Ham's Carlos Tevez and Pablo Aimar and Diego Milito of Real Zaragoza. Without Ronaldinho or Kaka, Brazil, Argentina's main rival, is the firm second-favorite.

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