EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Add another championship to the resume of the best generation of Chilean soccer.
Against the top-ranked team in the world led by the top player on the planet, Chile defeated Argentina for the Copa America title – for a second year in a row.
And as Arturo Vidal said, the sky is the limit for La Roja.
“This generation doesn’t have a roof, no limit,” the Bayern Munich midfielder said after Chile defeated Argentina on penalties Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
“People talk a lot, there’s always people who talk more than they should and they don’t know what we do. This is for those who trusted us.”
The journey started back in 2007, Vidal explained, when this group competed in the Under-20 World Cup in Canada.
“We just won two Copas America, but hopefully we can also win the World Cup,” he said.
A year ago, Chile won their first Copa America on home soil, beating Argentina in the same fashion. The ability to repeat as champions, though, was perhaps more gratifying for a group that had its share of critics before the tournament started.
“Criticism sometimes is excessive, especially with this generation of players that have left their skin on every game,” goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said. “This is a lesson for the whole world. We’re the only ones who have always believed in this team.”
That joy escaped defender Gonzalo Jara a year ago after he was suspended for the final following an altercation with Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani in the quarterfinals.
“I didn’t have the chance to be in the last Copa America and now I have the chance to be champion here with a generation of players who are like brothers to me,” he said. “We might have our arguments, but the truth is on the field we’re a team. That shows on the way we play.”
Chilean coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said he’s had his share of heartbreaking losses, both as a coach and a player. But he believes this group of players has great potential to continue to push the envelope and add to its resume.
“Luckily we managed to put together a group of players that really I came to admire. They worked hard,” Pizzi said. “I know they will continue growing with this national team. As time goes by, this group has really been pushing the ceiling on its abilities. Let’s hope we continue helping ourselves and achieving more.”