Copa America 2024, at face value, is a marquee and event that will draw eyes from all over the world. But it does that every time it is staged, no matter where the tournament is hosted. Even more than the special Centenario edition in 2016, this Copa America marks a new era of soccer in the United States.

Copa America to light a footy fire in the United States

The USA has hosted major soccer tournaments and events before. World Cup 1994, and the Women’s World Cups in 1999 and 2003, were watershed moments for the sport, sure. Major international friendlies are staged here each year, and CONCACAF competitions headlined by Mexico and the USA national teams showcase the enthusiasm for soccer that exists in this country.

But nothing like the stretch we’re about to embark on has ever happened before.

Copa America will bring arguably the best continental competition on the planet here. As a bonus, popular home sides USA, Mexico, and possibly Canada will be added to the mix. That’s exciting enough. But Copa is only the appetizer to an incredible upcoming buffet of the beautiful game.

The fire that Copa America will spark next summer will be followed up with the debut of the new, 32-team FIFA Club World Cup in 2025. This will bring some of the biggest and most popular clubs on the planet to the US. And for the first time, as part of a real, meaningful competition.

That will be followed with something even bigger – the 48-team FIFA World Cup in 2026. This will no doubt be the biggest, most attended World Cup ever.

And if that’s not enough, the US has its hat in the ring to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, too.

That’s at least three, and maybe four, years in a row of absolutely massive soccer events on our shores. This of course will be added on top of things like MLS, Liga MX, Leagues Cup, a revamped Champions Cup, the NWSL, an ever-expanding lower division scene, and multiple new women’s professional leagues in the USA.

Imagine the hype for soccer in America that surrounds a World Cup – but for four years in a row
Imagine the hype for soccer in America that surrounds a World Cup – but for four years in a row

Imagine the hype for soccer in America that surrounds a World Cup – but for four years in a row

America the Beautiful (game)

Just the fact that Copa America will be played here will get the soccer community buzzing.

But imagine if the USMNT actually did well? Or even, as unlikely as it may be, make the final or even win the whole thing?

That would surely see the excitement break out of the soccer community and into the mainstream. We get the “World Cup bump” every four years for both the men and women. Everyone gets riled up. Attendance usually picks up for domestic leagues around the tournament. The mainstream media catches on.

But it all quickly fades away when either the men inevitably crash out, or the (usual) women’s celebration tour ends. This nation’s love for the sport ebbs and flows, but has never truly latched on with the general population.

However, the US men making the final or winning Copa América would be a massive achievement, easily their biggest accomplishment ever. Even escaping the group stage and winning a single knockout game would set the tone for the buildup to what would then be an even more insane 2026.

With the US automatically qualified as 2026 co-hosts, the otherwise meaningless 2025 Gold Cup and other games would suddenly become much bigger events.

Even if the USA doesn’t do well, though, Copa America will still be the harbinger of the next evolution of soccer in the States.

There was the age of the games’ immigrant roots and the establishment of the US Open Cup in the early 1900s. Then the dark ages for decades when the sport was nearly non-existent. The brief sparkling lights of the NASL in the 1970s. World Cup ’94 and three decades of growth that have followed. And now, this is the moment for the next step.

Bring it on.

Photos: Imago

Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer