The Copa America opens Friday at Levi’s Stadium in the midst of a very crowded Bay Area sports scene. The San Jose Sharks are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time and the San Francisco Giants are in first place, but it is the Golden State Warriors who have truly captured the hearts and imagination of the Bay Area.
Although many big sports fans will be watching the major soccer tournament anyway, here are five reasons why Warriors fans, in particular, should be tuning in:
The styles on show
Bay Area soccer fans have embraced the Warriors, so it would make sense that Warriors fans embrace soccer. Futbol aficionados appreciate the Warriors' style, skill and it reminds many of the great soccer teams from the past and present. Brazil from the 1970’s, with their flair and artistry, and more recently the Barcelona teams which have been able to combine both playing an attractive style and winning.
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Everyone loves a winner, but those who win with style hold a special place and with Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia all in action over the next month, there should be plenty of excitement to look forward to.
Lionel Messi and Steph Curry
There are more similarities between Lionel Messi and Steph Curry than you might realise.
Curry is undersized, skilled and the superstar everyone can relate to, just like the small but mighty Argentine who plays for Barcelona.
There was a recent exchange on Instagram when Team Curry congratulated Team Messi with Curry’s #30 jersey after the footballer reached 30 million followers. Messi kindly responded by sending Curry his trademarked #10 jersey once he had reached 10 million.
In fact, if the NBA (or Adidas, given Curry's Under Armour presence and Lebron's recent lifetime commitment to Nike) has any marketing sense, they would look to arrange for Messi to be on the sideline for Game 1 or 2 while he is in the Bay Area and capitalise on his true global reach.
The Copa America will be a welcome distraction during the NBA Finals and a good warm-up for when the season ends. The European Championships in France also kick off June 10th, just as the Warriors expect to be tightening their grip on the Cavs.
Between the Copa America and Euro 2016, you will have plenty of ways to watch meaningful sporting events once the heavy favourites Warriors hoist the trophy before the Olympics.
You could tune into the Giants, currently keeping first place warm until the Dodgers make a late run.
Let's be honest, the Giants are less than 60 games into the season, which means you can catch one of the next 100 games on their schedule. Beware though, as after a summer filled with soccer, it is highly likely you will find yourself spending your Sundays next fall cheering on the Earthquakes at the Avaya Stadium instead of the 49ers at Levi’s. Once real futbol has gripped you, it’s hard to go back to helmets and pigskin.
The US team opens against Colombia, the third-ranked team in the FIFA world rankings, while the host nation enters the tournament at a more modest 31st position.
Colombia have fully earned their high placing and it promises to be a stern opening matchup for the American team. But hey, Warriors fans love a good challenge don’t they?
Just last week, sports fans across the States were ready to crown Kevin Durant. Here we are seven days later and the only thing connected to Durant is trade rumours.
Like the Warriors of a few years ago, the US side is a team in transition. The roster includes familiar faces currently plying their trade in MLS such as Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and San Jose Earthquake forward Chris Wondoloski being challenged by the new guard including DeAndre Yedlin, Bobby Wood and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic, who all play overseas.
We could just see the best football ever played in the majestic Levi's Stadium.
Let's hope some of Messi's magic will transform the frequently replaced sod (or can it be considered grass yet?) and act as an inspiration to the 49ers to return to the championship calibre of years gone by.
The Bay Area will host four games in the Copa America and while ticket prices might not be family friendly (which shouldn’t be a surprise when the games are played in an NFL stadium), the tournament promises to feature world-class players and teams.
The competitive nature and unpredictability of the games should also be an incentive as those involved look to join the Warriors as the champion of the Americas!