The draw for the 2020 Copa America took place on Tuesday, with the 12-team tournament bringing together 10 countries from South America along with Australia and Qatar on an invite basis.
The quadrennial event will run through July 12 with the final in Barranquilla, Colombia. The first match is set for June 12, when co-hosts Argentina will face Chile.
The draw is grueling for all involved, with Group A containing Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Meanwhile, Group B has Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Qatar and Venezuela. Eight teams, or the top four from each group, make it through to the quarterfinals. From that point on, single-elimination takes place.
The Copa America first began in 1916, and Uruguay holds the mantle of the most trophies raised with 15. Argentina, despite not winning the trophy since 1993, could equal that total this summer.
The tournament will bring together some of the world’s biggest stars, such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, but there are also plenty of MLS players who could feature for their respective countries.
While rosters won’t be set in stone for quite some time, early outlooks suggest the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers could be hit the hardest by call-ups next summer. Let’s take a look at which MLS players could see action:
With a star-studded squad, it’ll certainly be difficult for Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco to break into head coach Lionel Scaloni’s plans. But the 20-year-old has featured extensively for La Albiceleste’s U-20 side, and there’s always a chance he gets his first test of senior-side competition under the bright lights of South America's premier competition. There's also LA Galaxy forward Cristian Pavon, who played for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though has been out of the side as of late.
The big MLS connection to watch for comes via left back Brad Smith, who won an MLS Cup in 2019 with the Seattle Sounders. He was on loan from Premier League side Bournemouth this past season, and is not currently under contract with the Rave Green.
The 2015 and 2016 winners of Copa America could have some MLS flavor, as led by Sporting Kansas City veteran midfielder Felipe Gutierrez. Otherwise, Colorado Rapids striker Diego Rubio has featured in a handful of games for La Roja, while Houston Dynamo defender Jose Bizama is another candidate.
Can LAFC left back Diego Palacios continue his rapid rise for La Tricolor? That's one of the biggest MLS-centric questions around their possible Copa America squad, which could also include Seattle center back Xavier Arreaga. Otherwise, players to watch for include Orlando City midfielder Sebastian Mendez and forward Romario Ibarra, who's on loan at Pachuca from Minnesota United.
Outside back Jorge Moreira, who remains on loan with the Portland Timbers from River Plate, is a prime candidate to feature. The same applies to his Portland teammate, midfielder Cristhian Paredes, and former Atlanta star Miguel Almiron, who’s now with Newcastle. Hector Villalba, Almiron’s former attacking partner with the Five Stripes, could make the roster. Then there’s New York Red Bulls midfielder Kaku, whose international career is just taking off after filing a one-time switch from Argentina.
La Blanquirroja have a stronger MLS presence than you might think, with Seattle striker Raul Ruidiaz among the most notable. There’s also New York City FC center back Alexander Callens and San Jose Earthquakes outside back Marcos Lopez, as well as former Orlando midfielder Carlos Ascues. To round out the MLS contingent, Portland forward Andy Polo is another candidate for Copa America time.
A bright young star, LAFC winger Brian Rodriguez, will surely look to keep his rapid La Celeste rise going. The other big name to watch for is Seattle maestro Nicolas Lodeiro, who’s one of the squad’s more senior players.
Atlanta striker Josef Martinez is the star attraction for MLS fans when thinking of La Vinotinto, but there’s no guarantee the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS MVP even features. In September, he penned a letter explaining why he doesn't plan to accept future call-ups. A safer bet is Real Salt Lake winger Jefferson Savarino or LA Galaxy defender Rolf Feltscher. To round out the MLS possibilities, there’s Portland midfielder Renzo Zambrano and D.C. United midfielder Junior Moreno.