This summer, some of the game’s biggest stars will descend upon the U.S. for the 2016 Copa America Centenario, including five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
You may not know that Messi and the Argentine national team actually spent some time in the U.S. last year as well. And Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Cole Seiler was front and centre.
In March of last year, Argentina’s national team trained at Georgetown University’s facilities for over a week, which gave Seiler an opportunity to meet and play against the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, and Ezequiel Lavezzi – among others.
And it almost didn’t happen.
The day before Argentina arrived, Messi injured his foot in a match against Real Madrid. Fortunately, for Messi and those at Georgetown, he turned out to be just fine. Unfortunately for Seiler, he wasn’t able to miss class on Argentina’s first day in town, so he missed out on the training session.
But he managed to be there the rest of the week – and he’ll never forget it.
“Amazing experience,” said Seiler, who went head-to-head with Aguero three or four times throughout the week. “What I also enjoyed was watching their centre backs and just the trust they place in Mascherano. Sometimes you think there’s an, ‘Oh crap’ moment but they’re completely calm on the ball. Defensively, they never looked panicked at all.”
Funny, that’s what people have been saying about Seiler. They also say that about Matias Laba, Vancouver’s own defensive midfielder from Argentina, who Seiler likened to Mascherano.
“I remember one play where I passed it on to [Laba], there was kind of a man on to him, and he handled it with ease,” Seiler said. “We were able to get out of it and we actually went on to go score. I said sorry after for the pass. He said don’t worry about it. I definitely see the similarities.”
MLS will break from June 2-14 for the Copa America Centenario. Seiler’s allegiances lie with the U.S., but it’s safe to say he’ll be watching Argentina closely – again.
Whitecaps FC are set to open the 2016 MLS regular season on Sunday, March 6 against Montreal Impact (2:30 p.m. PT at BC Place). Single match tickets are on sale now.
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 2016 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale from $39/month all in. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.