The U.S. men’s (3-0-1) matchup with Argentina (4-0-0) on Tuesday (9, Fox Sports 1) has understandably received most of the attention (at least in the States) since it was set over the weekend but the other 2016 Copa America semifinal-Chile (3-0-1) vs. Colombia (3-0-1)-on Wednesday (8, Fox Sports 1) at Chicago’s Soldier Field should also be a great event and it’s probably more likely to be a better game if we’re being honest here. If you put much credence into previous results, Chile comes in with more momentum after they absolutely destroyed Mexico 7-0 on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Since their impressive 2-0 opening win vs. the United States, Colombia has looked much less impressive and they needed penalty kicks (4-2) to squeak by Peru in the quarterfinals on Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
The 2015 Copa America defending champion Chile opened with a 2-1 loss to Argentina on June 6 but they’ve bounced back with three straight victories: 2-1 vs. Bolivia on June 10, 4-2 vs. Panama on June 14 and then Saturday’s unbelievably dominant offensive display against Mexico. Striker Eduardo Vargas (who won the Golden Boot for most goals last year) is on a roll as he bagged four goals against helpless Mexico, giving him six in this campaign to put him atop the leaderboard. His pal Alexis Sanchez had a goal and two assists against Mexico and together along with midfielder Arturo Vidal (2 assists vs. Mexico) they form the most dangerous goal-scoring trio in this tournament.
Colombia beat Paraguay 2-1 on June 7 but then stumbled 3-2 against Costa Rica in their Group A finale on June 11 which allowed the U.S. to slide into first-place. The result vs. Costa Rica didn’t seem like as much of a fluke after Colombia similarly struggled vs. Peru, another team that they should beat no questions asked. They only managed one shot on goal in the entire 90-plus minutes of action (note that Copa America doesn’t have extra time and goes straight to penalty kicks). Still, Colombia had enough skill to hit all four penalty kicks by midfielder James Rodriguez, midfielder Juan Cuadrado, striker Dayro Moreno and midfielder Sebastian Perez but that’s always an extremely tough way to advance. Chile will be the best team that Colombia has played so far in the 2016 Copa America therefore they’ll need to be at their best or else they’ll find themselves in Saturday’s third-place match and nobody wants that fate.
In their last meeting, a World Cup qualifying match on November 12, 2015 in Santiago (Chile), these teams played to a 1-1 draw. Vidal gave Chile a 1-0 lead with a header in stoppage time (45th minute) then Rodriguez tied it up in the 68th minute. Expect another hard-fought contest on Wednesday that could go either way.
Follow Metro Boston soccer writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate