Philadelphia, Pa (Sports Network) – The United States Men’s National Soccer team has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2007 Copa America, the regional tournament of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela.

The U.S. is competing in the biannual event for the first time since 1995, because of a number of reasons – the biggest being the U.S. Soccer Federation’s preoccupation with building Major League Soccer’s foundation in the United States.

The first phase of the tournament consists of three groups of four teams each that compete in a round-robin format. The top two teams from each group, along with the two best third-place teams, advance to the knockout phase. Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have been designated to head the three groups.

Copa America is the second international tournament in which the U.S. will compete next summer, and will begin just a few days after the USA tries to defend its title against 11 other teams at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States.

One of the main issues that had to be resolved before the U.S. would accept the invitation to the tournament was scheduling conflicts involved with both the Gold Cup and the MLS.

“We have for several months been looking at the possibility of playing in Copa America, a process which started formally on July 8th when (U.S. Soccer Secretary General) Dan Flynn and I met with the General Secretary of CONCACAF Chuck Blazer in Berlin,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in a conference call Monday. “We had a very positive meeting the day before the World Cup final. Basically we laid out what I would say are some prerequisites for us to be able to consider our participation in Copa America. The most important of those prerequisites was that the date on which the U.S. might potentially start would need to be later in the first round of Copa America because the Gold Cup ends on June 24th and Copa America starts on June 26th.

“So physically, the thought of playing the final of the Gold Cup if the U.S. team were in it and the playing Copa America preliminary or first game two days later was an impossibility. They thought they would be able to work with us on that. It took some time for us to be able to get a confirmation of that in writing. They needed to go through their channels, but we finally got that we would not start in the beginning of the competition. We obviously would start in the first round, but in the latter part of the first round. So lets say the last day of group play,” Gulati added.

Another issue that needed to be dealt with was the fact that the tournament would fall right in the middle of the MLS season, which would make it hard to keep that league in top form, while putting together the best possible team for the American side.

Gulati and Flynn met with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis to work out those details before accepting the Copa America invitation.

“We have gotten to a place that both Don and I are comfortable,” Gulati said. “We are very, very thankful that the MLS is going to be working with us as to make sure that we have a good team go to both of those events (The Gold Cup and Copa America). I can’t tell you what all of that means in terms of exact details, but I think it is safe to say that Don and the league (MLS) understand how important the events would be for us in terms of preparing the team and especially as we are starting a new cycle yet they are in the middle of the season.”

The third and final issue the U.S. Soccer Federation had to deal with before accepting the invitation to Copa America was that the new head coach of the team was comfortable playing in two tournaments so close together.

“What we have done to deal with that issue is asked the question of everyone of the people that Dan Flynn and I have talked to,” Gulati said.

Gulati also said that the federation would be naming a coach in late November or early December at the latest.

“I said a few weeks ago that we four to five people we are in the process of talking to and that is still the case,” Gulati said.

Gulati also confirmed that one of the potential candidates is former German coach Juergen Klinsmann.

“If it (the announcement of the U.S. National team’s new head coach) slips into the first week in December, I am not going to lose any sleep,” Gulati said, “but it is our intention still to make that announcement in November.”

  • kicks22

    Thank you! Even if the US crashes out of Copa America early, it’ll be a good experience. Now hire a coach!

  • Heath Young

    Definitely… The more experience they can get against quality opponents like Copa America provides the better. It would be a travesty to have turned down the invitation.

  • Cheese

    I am so ready for a new head coach, I’ve been waiting ever since the world cup was over. I agree that it will be good experience but I believe that we can & will compete to win the Copa America!

  • Trym

    Cheese & Heath & Kick …

    You all sound like a group of young girls all giddy to catch a glimpse of your favorite pop idol or some bible thumping religious fanatics waiting for the second coming of Christ.All this …(Hire a new coach!)& …we can compete to win the Copa America! Get real & put your glass pipes away. Clear your head. A new cpach won’t do it sorry to say! As for the Copa America, as usual with big cups expect an early exit. It will be business like always for your team & you all know it!

  • Heath Young

    Actually, we sound like people that want to see US Soccer get some experience against quality competition.

    I’m tired of US Soccer only competing in the gold cup and thinking that is good enough competition and preparation. It helps, but in the scheme of things, it’s a joke. The US needs to enter into every high level international competition they can in order to gain experience and improve.

    Nowhere in any of my posts to you see me saying we’re going to win the World Cup, Copa America or anything else. What you do see me say is that we need to take part in competitions such as Copa America in order to improve as a national program, which is exactly what kicks said as well. In fact he even went so far as to say it’s worth the experience even if they crash out early in the competition, so save the condescention.

    As for a new coach, I want to see a new coach named, because the program is wasting time and drifting aimlessly without one, not because I think it will make the US an instant world football giant.

  • kicks22

    As far as I can tell, none of the previous posters are saying that the US will automatically be a great team. Nobody is smoking that crack. But it’s not impossible to get better, especially if you’re not great to begin with… And you can only getting better by taking small steps in the right direction, like getting a good coach with knowledge and experience of how to play well in the international game. And a team also needs to compete against top teams to become better. Playing in Copa America will be much more valuable than winning the Gold Cup again, even if there is an early exit.

    What’s the point in supporting a team if you can’t cheer for them to get better? (especially if there IS plenty of room for improvement). That’s nothing to ridicule. It’s a much more worthwhile effort than spending your time mocking others for amusement.

  • Grinder

    Why even bother sending the American team to any big cup. Its just a waste of money as like always they will have an early exit. American’s can’t play soccer!Face the music!

  • Barnabus Collins

    Kicks22,

    Nobody is mocking the Americans’ . Just bringing up the facts that’s all. It’s ok for Americans’ to look down on the rest of the world & I know Americans’ like being number one at everything but they will never be number one in soccer just like America will not alwyas be a super power as America’s days are already numbered & most American’s don’t even see it coming.

  • Heath Young

    This isn’t politics, it’s football. Americans that love the sport would just like to see their team improve, simple as that. Competing against teams like Brazil, Argentina, etc. will help, so it’s nice to see the invitation accepted instead of squandering a chance to learn from good competition.

    It’s just a chance to play and improve, lighten up.

  • kicks22

    Now you’re confusing real life and politics with a game. Just because I support US Soccer doesn’t mean I agree with US foreign policy or anything our president says for that matter.

    You have a real talent for twisting people’s words and running with them in a different direction. In fact, it reminds me of American politicians.

    Now back on topic, I don’t expect the US to become number one in the world, certainly not anytime soon. But it would be nice for them to become more competitive with the European and South American powers. Most people in Spain or Venezuela or Pakistan like to have their countries succeed as well. There is nothing uniquely American about it.

  • Raw Head Rex

    That will only happen if the USSF guts the entire American national team program & replaces their player base with imported players. This has nothing to do with politics but rather simple logic which is … To compete with the best you must have the same as the best which in this case would be non- American players playing for the American national team.

  • Barnabus Collins

    I did not, or do not twist other people’s words with anything. I just am rather blunt & straight forward & bring the facts out into the light. The problem is most people talk out of the corners of their mouths & want others to sugar coat anything they might say to them in return. I just brought to light what the typical American mentality is & I’m not alone with my views is their are millions upon millions of people the world over that share the same view so we can’t all be wrong. Maybe you need to wake upfrom your stupor & clear your eyes to see things as they really are.Back to American soccer, no world class coach is going to turn it all around for you. You also need a totally new crop of players to fill the ranks to have a realistic chance to compete. I have to agree with the above post as it will take an imported group of players to push the American national team towards the top. That’s the truth! That’s reality! Deal with it!

  • Mina

    I can’t understand why they evn waste time posting stories about the United States team? Afterall they are the weakest team in the world & will never amount to anything.

  • Cheese

    So everyone, humor me for a minute…who was the only team in World Cup 2006 to play Italy (Champions) and to NOT get beat by them…o yea, the United States of America. Pretty cool huh? Also, what is all this talk about getting all new players for the team? Remember in WC 2002 when France totally sucked? Who was their captain and star player this time around…who was their top striker this time around? I believe these two men, Zidane and Henry, were on the team in 2002.

  • Trym

    What’s so cool about getting knocked out of the world cup in Germany & not being able to win one single game. By the way the one goal that the mighty American’s got against Italy was an own goal scored by a stupid mistake a stupid Italian player made when he put it into his own net. So let’s see … America was kocked out of the first round, could not win one single game, & could only manage two goals in three games, one! the Italians stupid Italians scored for them. So …..Pretty …NOT! cool huh!

  • Phil Lynott

    One more correction to the comment Cheese made about France. France did not play all that bad in Germany 2006. Against Brazil they held Brazil to only one shot on goal for the entire game & that was the third time they had met Brazil in a world cup game & beat them so I think it’s safe to say it was anything but luck. Besides that they also beat Spain & Portugal.

  • tommygun

    Hey Phil, you’re right, France played very well in this year’s world cup. THey surprised alot of people by handling Brazil. They played even better in ’98 when they won. But Cheese specifically said 2002, which was when France didn’t even score a goal. Seems like he was saying any team, even one as skilled and proven as France can have a bad go at it.

  • Cheese

    Thank you tommygun, you interpreted what I said correctly. Phil I think France played well in Germany 2006, but a 1-0 win is not a domination as was stated in another post…that is what I was referring to. I also did not say anything about France getting lucky, I feel they deserved to beat Brazil becuase Brazil did not playi well in the world cup.

  • Varg Vikernes

    A one to nothing win is a domination if the team you play is Brazil’s national team & you keep them so pinned down that they only manage one shot on goal for the entire game. Yes! Sounds like domination to me & it also soulds like Cheese knows nothing about soccer as Cheese’s post are unrealistic.

  • Rasputin

    As for what happened with Brazil in the world cup there were a number of factors. First they have very good players but for some strange reason could not get it together as a team. Second I think they started to belive all the media & public hype about them as it went to their heads. I think they felt they could just cruise all the way to the final game & then turn it up a few notche’s at the final. They should have turned it up a few notche’s in round one. Second even though it was a low scoring game I have to agree that France dominated Brazil on every level as they out classed them & kept them to only one shot on goal dispite the fact Brazil is known to be an offense attacking type team, they always have been & they could not created any real offense against France this year.

  • Marduk Panzer Squad

    France has won the world cup in 98. How about the United States. France has also beat Brazil in the last 3 times they met in world cups. How many times has America beat Brazil in the world cup? Please tell me!

  • Keeeper King

    My colleuge and I are very excited about this tournament because i think this will expose the U.S. national team to different talents and skills so they can enhance their own skillz.

  • Myles

    The only thing the United States will be exposeed to is more defeats.

  • Heath Young

    Fine, they can lose every match in Copa America and it will still be worth the trip. Every bit of experience against top quality teams like Brazil and Argentina is worth more in defeat than any win against the lesser CONCACAF competition they usually face.

    Degrade the US program all you want, it is still the correct decision to accept the invitation and get the experience.

  • expert

    americans can’t play soccer. That’s why you gringos got disqualified in the first round of the world cup 5 months ago. The only wothy american soccer players are women.

  • Nicholas

    I don’t agree the fact that US has nothing to do in major tournaments like american cup.
    Look to Greece, they’ ve became european champions besides they never had a decent perform in history.
    But I think US should use their influence to get into european cup (Israel plays in european qualys but is an asian country). Stopping aside Argentina or Brazil, american cup suck.
    Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela or Peru are in a lower level than US.