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New competition may devalue Gold Cup
by Ridge Mahoney, October 25th, 2012 3:50PM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mexico, mls

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By Ridge Mahoney

The announcement Wednesday that a special centenary edition of the Copa America will be played in 2016 featuring Concacaf teams may both help and impair the Gold Cup.

Copa America Centenario 2016 will severely test the U.S. market’s appetite for international soccer, which to date has been mostly the province of European club teams, the Mexican national team, and the Gold Cup, the Concacaf regional championship played every two years. The past few Gold Cups have been scattered in stadiums across the country and that seeding process will again be in play as markets get their largest doses of a relatively unknown product. Visits by South American club teams are very rare, and while the national teams of Brazil and Argentina occasionally pass through, there’s not much interaction aside from exhibitions that appeal to the Colombian, Ecuadoran, and Peruvian communities.

Presumably, the 16-team tournament will feature four groups, likely anchored by the USA, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. The field will be comprised of all 10 Conmebol teams, and six from Concacaf. The United States -- as host -- and Mexico – as the biggest draw – will automatically be entered, with the remaining four Concacaf slots to be allotted by performances in the 2015 Gold Cup.

The tournament should draw huge television audiences in Mexico, Central America, and South America, though its appeal on U.S. television is hard to predict. Record TV ratings were generated by the European Championship last June but the Copa America and the Gold Cup are less visible properties.

A major player such as ESPN and its Spanish-language outlet ESPN Deportes is an obvious broadcast partner, yet newcomer BeinSport has a lot of cash as well as English and Spanish outlets. If these and other outlets bid big for the seductive newcomer, the other properties may suffer.

This proposed tournament, alluring as it is, might hit the saturation point for the U.S. market. Jamming yet another competition in between the 2015 and 2017 Gold Cups -- assuming those competitions are staged in the U.S. -- despite the allure of South American talent, may devalue the regional competition and stretch the market too thin.

MLS scheduling is already bogged down by the Gold Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international club exhibitions. Dropping 31 more games into its markets, as well as taking away American players, isn’t going to sit well with the Board of Governors. Remember how miffed executives were to learn of an expanded Concacaf Champions League that in effect drove their SuperLiga out of business?

And what will be the effect on the two dozen or so European club exhibitions staged every summer in the U.S.? Those games draw big crowds and generate huge revenues as well as media exposure; can Panama-Venezuela come close? And if the Copa America Centenario does well on TV and at the gate, it will surely shove the Gold Cup further into the background.

If there’s one competition that can’t afford to take a step back, it’s the Gold Cup, which is light years better than its rinky-dink debut in 1991, yet still struggles for significant television coverage and media presence. No longer does it need guest teams – Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador – to shine up its image and pump up its crowds, and despite its flaws has established an identity that greatly benefits U.S. Soccer and MLS.



14 comments
  1. Kyle Fanning
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
    Copa America is definitely worth the risks--it will be a WAY bigger draw than Gold Cup, and will go a long way to grow US soccer, moreso than any other event (outside of the WC) can. Soccer interest is at an all-time high, and this event would take it to the next level. US should do everything in their power to make sure this happens.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 4:58 p.m.
    Get rid of the GC except for every four years to determine the CC champion. Make the new GC that counts to be in '15. And then every four years. No GC in '17. Boom, Simple. CA would be a great fun, good for helping test our level of play and a money maker to boot.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 6:47 p.m.
    Can you say "Money Grab"? Maybe I'm missing something, but how does U.S. Soccer's progression gain from this arrangement, other than a potential appreciative moment from those that support some of these South American countries but live in the States? (citizens or not) Secondly, what do South Americans think of their tournament being recharacterized by a "Special Centenary Edition" of C.A.? Although the idea is intriguing, and no doubt most of us would attempt to see games, it stinks of financial expediency. I would rather see the G.C. continue its march towards equality with other major regional championships, then to begin to entertain the financial desires of other Conferderations, while at the same time undermining the success of our regional tournament. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see the U.S. take on the likes of Uruguay and Argentina in a meaningful contest, but if memory serves, that can be accomplished both at the World Cup and to a lesser likelihood the Confederations Cup, where are focus has been for decades now. The notion that we would create additional drama in the way of player availability and club team release requests, not to mention throwing less-than-ready U.S. players into a stretched player pool, for a one-time tournament, is a no-win situation for our real goal of winning the World Cup!

  1. Andrzej Kowalski
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 6:49 p.m.
    US has to play in Copa America! I agree with David Gold Cap only once every four years! no more please. Because US should have time play in as many high level competitive tournaments as possible. And only World Cap and Euro tournaments are more prestigious than Copa America.

  1. Andrzej Kowalski
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
    I disagree with Chris, in order to raise level of play US needs to play against stronger opponents than Concacaf! To CA US has free entrance, while to Confederations Cup US did not qualify last year.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 7:16 p.m.
    Stretch the player pool? Not good for our overall objective of winning the WC? What? Mexico will probably play in both competitions and will embrace the fact that their second team will get a shot at winning the Gold Cup and their top team winning the CA or vice versa. Just like they did when sending their U23 team to CA, that would have done better hadtheir 5 best players not gotten suspended right before that tourney, that gave them a unique experience and with no doubt prepared them to win the Olympics. This is what USA needs to do to find future stars and not worry about wether Donovan will retire or not. This is how 2-3 Mexico Olympic players got their chance on the top team. Chris your analogy is worrisome. More is better in USA case. That's for sure.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.
    Again, I think you're missing my point. One can agree, that having the opportunity to qualify/participate in an established regional championship besides their own, and with the development that should go along with it, that is definitely a desirable endeavor. The problem is no-one is suggesting this is anything more than a one-time proposition. Nor should anyone assume CONMEBOL would even sanction or be interested in doing anything to undermine the importance of their own championship in the future. But, what I hear you saying, is you would rather have both MLS and the Gold Cup play a distant second to their Special Centenary exhibition. (and that is exactly how those national teams would excuse away any bad performance) So, again how does U.S. Soccer benefit? I already said it would be intriquing, but as far as "big picture", it is of little lasting consequence, and the article infers as such. Do you guys even read between the lines, or is just about getting your jollies up for more games!? There was no analogy anywhere in my post. "Playing in" is different than hosting Luis, the effect of which is what a good portion of the story is dedicated to. Wow.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: October 25, 2012 at 8:42 p.m.
    Also, I would be more impressed and would find this whole idea more genuine, if the U.S., rather than Japan joined Mexico as one of the two invitees for the real Copa America in 2015! That would seal the deal for me!

  1. Alberto Mora
    commented on: October 26, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
    Copa America is the oldest futbol tournament in the world and the idea of include Concacaf teams is simply to celebrate our Special Centenary and to show the rest of America how to play world class futbol and to try to bring up the level of the Concacaf to become more competitive at international level. So far we can see that Mexico has increased their level to the present performance,nothing has to do with the Gold Cup since GC does not have much to offer yet for SouthAmerica.

  1. Alberto Mora
    commented on: October 26, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
    SouthAmerica has by far the largest pool of players in Europe and we are World Cup Champions more times than Europe. The US has to change that sick love for the English futbol, even the Germany the Superpower of Europe has respect for any SouthAmerican team in the World Cup that at the end is the real test for any national team, just check the latino talent in the current US national team.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: October 26, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
    Style does not translate into goals........ball still has to hit the back of the net......get over it.....

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: October 27, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
    Problem is that most of our top talent plays overseas, and what remains in the MLS is too few to count on. As for Mr. Sapien's comment, "style does not translate into goals." He's absolutely right, efficacy and a high level soccer IQ does.

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: October 28, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
    Comparing the Gold Cup to the Copa America is like comparing the NIT to the NCAA Tournament. The U.S. can only benefit by its participation. I like the Gold Cup because its the only internaitonal tournament that the U.S. has a chance to win. That being said, the exposure to superior players and teams from South America can only be thought of as a positive.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: October 29, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.
    Chris, so why is South America producing the best players? Does style not greatly influence efficacy and a high level IQ ? It appears it does. USA has too long wanted to mimic the English style but will never truly succeed with it only because its better talent plays the South American and Mexican style. It appears Klins is starting to figure that out. Spain did too. I think they are the Reigning kings in Europe. Ned more proof?


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