Copa America 2016 hosts USA kick off the 45th edition of the world's oldest international football competition when they take on Colombia in Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California on Friday.
Jurgen Klinsmann's side will be participating for the fourth time in the tournament—specially organised to celebrate the centenary of its formation—and have a best-place finish of fourth in 1995.
Per OddsShark, Colombia are expected to challenge for the tournament's top prize this month, with Real Madrid's James Rodriguez set to lead his side through Group A.
Take a look at the TV schedule and live streaming ahead of the Copa America's opening clash.
|Copa America 2016: Match One|
|USA vs Colombia||Friday June 3, 2016||21.30||Fox Sports, Premier Sports|
As tournament hosts the U.S., alongside Mexico, were handed automatic qualification, resulting in Klinsmann's side featuring mainly in friendly competition in the build up to the competition.
The Stars and Stripes have had mixed results in recent times, with 2016 proving more fruitful than the late period of last year. USA have won seven of their last nine matches in all formats, drawing once, per Soccerway.
This run of results came off the back of a torrid run of displays including five defeats in six matches, culminating in a fourth-place finish in the Gold Cup and a 3-2 defeat in the CONCACAF Confederations Play-off against Mexico.
German manager Klinsmann has come under increased pressure in recent months, with a draw to Trinidad & Tobago and a defeat at home to Guatemala at the start of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign forcing many observers to question his position. Per Nate Scott of USA Today, the team would have just an eight per cent chance of qualification if they were beaten by Guatemala in successive matches in March this year.
Meanwhile, Goal's Ives Galarcep claimed the national team had "hit rock bottom" under Klinsmann's tutelage as recently as three months previous following their dismal 2-0 defeat in qualifying.
Former USA international Jay DeMerit announced his excitement ahead of the first match of the competition:
However, ahead of this month's action, spirits have been raised. As hosts, the country has the opportunity—similar to when they hosted the World Cup in 1994—to show the world how they have embraced the sport.
In spite of their many foibles, the spine of USA's team remains their biggest strength. Aston Villa's Brad Guzan has taken the No. 1 jersey from Tim Howard, while Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron leads the back line. In midfield, Michael Bradley is ably partnered by Jermaine Jones, with experienced attacker Clint Dempsey supplying the team's goals.
Meanwhile for Colombia, Jose Pekerman's side will be hoping their patchy World Cup qualifying form does not continue into June's competition. Los Cafeteros sit fifth in the standings—one place away from the automatic position to progress—after two defeats from their opening six matches.
After a mixed season in La Liga, Rodriguez will be pleased to turn out for a team that cherishes the attacking playmaker as their main creative force. Shunned to a back-up role at the Santiago Bernabeu under head coach Zinedine Zidane, the former Porto and Monaco forward has completed over 45 minutes of first-team action in just five of his previous 10 appearances in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, the States have an unwelcome record when it comes to facing opposition from South America:
Should Rodriguez fail to fire from the off, Colombia can look towards Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado or AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca for inspiration. Former national team captain Falcao has not made the 23-man squad due to his ongoing fitness concerns and a barren spell with both Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premier League.
Group A has been kind to neither side, with the pair also drawn alongside Joel Campbell's Costa Rica and the ever-resilient Paraguay, a team that finished fourth last time out following their quarter-final elimination of Brazil.
A positive start, therefore, is necessary for both teams—but particularly for the hosts—in order to generate a frenzy of support to kick-start their campaign from the first whistle.