Brazil legend Ronaldinho may not be watching the tournament, but you can be sure Sportsnet’s soccer analysts will be, and they get things started ahead of the Canada-Argentina tournament opener with some picks, bold predictions and players to watch.

Jonathan Osorio is a professional footballer, but he’s also a football fan. 

As a kid growing up in Brampton, Ont., the current Toronto FC captain would run around in his backyard emulating the game’s biggest stars he’d watched on TV with his father, Diego, a native of Colombia. 

He still remembers watching the 2001 Copa América, when Colombia hosted the tournament and won it for the first and only time with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Mexico in the final in Bogotá. Twenty-three years later, Osorio will get the chance to play in the Copa América for Canada, who will make its debut in the South American championship being held in the United States from June 20 to July 14. 

The veteran midfielder is the most experienced member of Canada’s 26-man Copa roster, with 72 caps to his credit. Since making his international debut in 2013, he’s played in a FIFA World Cup, the Concacaf Gold Cup and the Concacaf Nations League final. One of the nine goals he scored for his country came in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico at legendary Estadio Azteca, considered one of the greatest cathedrals of world soccer. 

But being able to compete at the Copa América holds a special place in the heart of a player who spent part of his formative years playing for the youth academy of Nacional, one of the biggest clubs in Uruguay, and who is immensely proud of his South American background. 

“I can tell you that this is very special to me because of my roots, my Colombian roots. I grew up watching Copa América. I always remember watching 2001 when they won their only one and how big that was for my family in Canada, how big it was for the relatives I had in Colombia,” Osorio told Sportsnet. 

“This is a special moment for me, but I feel like if anything it’s even bigger for my family. It’s a proud moment for them and for myself. I never thought I would have the chance to play in a Copa América and to have that chance now is just amazing.” 

Canada enters the Copa as outsiders, ranked No. 49 in the world, well behind Group A opponents Argentina (No. 1), Peru (No. 32) and Chile (No. 42). Between them, those three nations have won the tournament 19 times, and Argentina is the defending champion, as well as the current World Cup holder. 

It’s fair to say that the shine has worn off the Canadian men’s team since its fabulous run through the Concacaf qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The team bowed out in the first round of the tournament in Qatar on the back of three consecutive losses and was eliminated after its first two games, while managing to score only a single goal. 

Results since Qatar haven’t been much better. The Canadians put in a meek performance in losing to the United States in last year’s Concacaf Nations League final. They followed that up with a tepid run to the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup, where they once again lost to the U.S. A two-legged, aggregate defeat to Jamaica in November meant it didn’t even qualify for the final four of this year’s Nations League. John Herdman unexpectedly stepped down as coach last summer, leaving the program in the lurch. 

But there is renewed hope following last month’s hiring of Jesse Marsch, a 50-year-old native of Wisconsin. Marsch is a former MLS star and U.S. international who previously coached European clubs Red Bull Salzburg (leading them to a pair of Austrian league titles), RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga and English outfit Leeds United. 

His first two matches in charge earlier this month saw the Canadians suffer a 4-0 loss to the Netherlands in Rotterdam and earn a credible 0-0 draw vs. France in Bordeaux. 

Canada put in a solid opening 45 minutes against the seventh-ranked Dutch before running out of gas in the second half and went toe-to-toe for 90 minutes against No. 2 France. Had winger Liam Millar’s curling shot from distance early in the second half been a touch lower instead of smacking the crossbar, we’d be talking about a famous win over the French right now. 

Things won’t get any easier for Canada, who’ll take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in the opening match of the Copa América on Thursday in Atlanta. On paper, this is a mismatch pitting the upstart Concacaf nation against the reigning World Cup champions. 

But the strength of Canada’s recent performances against two European giants in the Netherlands and France gives it a major boost of self-belief going into the competition. 

“Probably more so from the France game, but there were a lot of positives from both games. We learned a lot about ourselves in the second half of that Dutch game, which helped us going into the game against France. We can take a lot of confidence from those two games, feeling the speed of play against those types of teams at that level. That’s going to help us and be fresh in our minds as we go into this first match against the defending world champions,” Osorio said. 

Only by routinely testing itself against the best teams in international soccer can Canada hope to become a competitive force when it co-hosts the 2026 World Cup. That’s one reason why the Copa América is so important for the Canadians, as it allows them to go up against the best that South America has to offer. 

Osorio insists it’s much more than just about building towards 2026, though. 

“Listen, we want to perform well, but we want to get results, too. That’s the next step for us. We want to get results. We’re not here just to put on goo

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