The COPA America quarterfinals begin this evening in Seattle, and the group stage provided plenty of surprises. Perhaps most shockingly, Brazil is out of the tournament. Though they put seven goals past outmatched Haiti, those were the only goals they managed to score in three games. Brazil finished with one win, one draw, and one loss. Both the loss and the draw were controversial. Ecuador actually scored against Brazil, but the ball was mistakenly ruled out of bounds by a distant linesman before it was bungled into the net by the Brazilian keeper. The game ended 0-0. Peru’s goal to defeat Brazil was actually slapped in with a forearm swipe. That handball, unseen by the officials in real time, cost Brazil’s manager, the great Dunga, his job. It’s time for soccer to come of age and introduce official replay on goals scored.
The United States team winning their group was another unexpected result. Despite what the pundits have said, the US played composed, promising soccer against a strong Colombian side, but lost 2-0. In their next game, the team looked jittery, repeatedly giving the ball away to Costa Rica. But they finished many of their chances and won going away at 4-0. The US played their rugged best beating Paraguay 1-0 to win their group over Colombia on goal differential — the first tiebreaker. It’s understandable that FIFA wants to promote scoring, but this is absurd. Head-to-head results should always and automatically be the first tiebreaker in any competition. Nonetheless, in this format the US has earned a match against Ecuador with a COPA semifinal on the line!