On Sunday I had the opportunity to watch the final game in the Copa America Centenario 2016 at MetLife Stadium. The Copa America is a soccer tournament run by CONMEBOL, which is the governing federation for soccer in South America. Because South America has only 10 countries participating, the tournament usually invites 2 teams from other parts of the world to create a 12 team competition.
But this year marked the 100th anniversary of the Copa, and to celebrate they held it in the United States (essentially for financial reasons) and invited 6 teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean, turning it into a true full Western Hemisphere competition. In the end, the 2 teams everyone expected found themselves in the final: Chile and Argentina.
By the way, the United States performed admirably well, ending in the semifinals and being the only non-South American team to reach the final four of the tournament. South America has 5 national teams ranked Top 10 in the world and the rest of the Americas have none, so that is a nice achievement.
In any event, the game started at 8 but to avoid massive traffic and to ensure a spot everyone was advised to arrive early. I was wondering what I could do to pass the time when I remembered my friend Armando Martinez’s Denver Super Fans project and book. He spent a whole season at Denver Broncos tailgate pregame parties shooting the fans and their creative costumes. It is a great book. So I packed my camera and determined to spend the time asking people to pose in their national and team colors, and ended up having a blast.
If you look through the gallery you will see a small few candids, but mostly I just walked up to people and asked to take their photo. Nobody refused and most thanked me after I was done. Their fun and pride are strongly evident in these images.
Chile won, on a penalty shootout, after 120 minutes of a surprisingly scoreless game. both of these teams have substantial offensive firepower. Argentina even had one of the world’s best goal scorers on its bench because it’s team is that strong. But on this day the defenses ruled and Chile became returning champions, having won the previous tournament.