PHILADELPHIA, Pa . − After hoping this summer of soccer would be a special one, especially on the heels of the greatest World Cup ever last summer, the tournaments so far have been massively underwhelming.
At the newly-expanded African Cup of Nations (from 16 to 24 teams), the added nations have really watered down the tournament. So far, after three 0-0 draws Saturday, 20 of the 24 matches have been under 2.5 goals, and the level of play has at times been poor.
In South America at the Copa America, three of the four quarterfinal matches ended 0-0 with penalty kicks, while Argentina was the lone team of the eight to score a goal.
The Gold Cup quarterfinals started Saturday night, as Canada blew a 2-1 lead to the 101st ranked team in the FIFA rankings, Haiti, while Mexico was underwhelming in a shootout win over Costa Rica.
At the Women's World Cup, England, United States, Netherlands, and Sweden have advanced. While the USA is probably going to win, this team pales in comparison to some of the other Cup-winning squads, although the English and Dutch sides have been very good.
What does all of this show? On the men's side, there are a handful of decent teams outside of Europe, something that was shown last summer as six of nine teams European sides advanced to the quarterfinals, and with the semifinals and final all-European affairs. On the women's side, there are about three or four good teams, with the USA the best of an average tournament.
But some team has to win each cup.
Sunday, the American men have a chance to lay down a marker in the final quarterfinal of the round, as they play Curacao in the second match of two at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. A big win here can set the stage for a run to the title, something this team desperately needs heading into Olympic and World Cup qualification.
Expect the Americans to make that statement.
Finally, one tournament that has surpassed expectations comes to an end, as the UEFA U21 Final is on tap in Italy. Spain and Germany have scored goals, and posted some big wins, but Sunday should be about the Spanish side that has looked the best from Day 1.
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UEFA U21 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Spain (+110) vs. Germany (+235), draw (+245), 2:45 p.m. EDT (ESPN 2)
Spain ML (+110)
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AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS
Uganda (+475) vs. Egypt (-125), draw (+220), 3 p.m. EDT (beIN Sports and Fubo.tv)
Egypt ML (-125)
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United States (-650) vs. Curacao (+1300), draw (+500), 8 p.m. EDT (FS1, Univision, and Fubo.tv)
USA -2 Asian Handicap (-118)
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