The Copa America is now in knockout mode, with the preliminary stages of the competition now finished.
But last weekend, the tournament certainly had knockout vibes running throughout Philly as three teams said goodbye to their Copa America dreams.
Last Thursday night, Luis Suarez and Uruguay were fighting for their lives against a dark horse Venezuela team at Lincoln Financial Field. Everyone expected a return to winning ways for Uruguay, with their backs against the wall after a loss in the opener to Mexico.
It was not meant to be, however, as West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon snatched his second goal in as many games for the Venezuelans. They then defended their lead resolutely, while Luis Suarez made headlines off the pitch as he threw fits on the bench for being listed ineligible to play by his head coach. In the end, Uruguay was not good enough to survive, and was eliminated from contention for the knockout rounds.
Another national team was also in Philly on Thursday, but they weren't playing a match. The U.S. camped out on Rhodes Field at Penn for a training session Thursday afternoon, with the entire team, Jürgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff on site. Fans lined up around the field, but a tight security team kept only credentialed media from entering the fences.
This wasn't the first time a big sports team has used Penn Athletics' facilities to practice before a game. In addition to Rhodes Field, NHL teams in the past have used the Class of 1923 Ice Rink to prepare for match-ups with the Fliers or other games in the city.
The U.S. faced off on Saturday against Paraguay in a high stakes game that would determine who lived, and who died in the Copa America. If the U.S. had lost, it would have been Paraguay who secured the second birth from the group — along with Colombia — to the quarterfinals. A predatory goal from Clint Dempsey put the Red, White and Blue up 1-0 midway through the first half, and things were looking bright for the hosts heading into halftime. Shortly after the restart, though, things went awry.
DeAndre Yedlin had a minute of indiscipline that saw him booked twice for bad tackles. With 40 minutes left in the game, the Americans had to defend their lead with ten men. They fought tooth and nail to cling on, with German-American John Brooks of Hertha Berlin in particular playing one of his best games as an American. The U.S.'s gritty win coupled with Colombia's surprise loss to Costa Rica meant that the host nation won the group, and they ultimately got a more favorable quarterfinal match, pitted against Ecuador.
The penultimate match of the group stage and the third game hosted by Lincoln Financial Field took place on Tuesday night, with Chile and Panama dueling for a single spot in the quarterfinals. This goal fest was perhaps the most entertaining of the bunch, and two sumptuous goals from the Chilean firecracker Alexis Sanchez secured a 4-2 win for the defending Copa America champions.
Several members of the Chilean national team were spotted hanging around the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art the day before the match, and some Penn students were even reported to have taken selfies with their players.
So while this grand-scale international tournament airs on televisions in all corners of the globe, last weekend's installations had enough local flavor to draw in thousands of eyes from around the city, too.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.