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Copa soccer games at the Linc lived up to their billing

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann summed it up best. "This is a huge statement to teams in South America or whoever watches it on TV," Klinsmann said.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann summed it up best.

"This is a huge statement to teams in South America or whoever watches it on TV," Klinsmann said.

At the time, of course, he was referring to the U.S. men's national team 1-0 victory over Paraguay on Saturday. But his comment could easily have applied to any of the three Copa America Centenario group stage games played under the Lincoln Financial Field lights over the last week.

Each game made a statement and did so inside a football stadium that usually holds 69,000 rowdy Eagles fans on autumn Sundays. In the parking lots this week, tailgaters kicked soccer balls, while Copa America and Euro Cup matches were broadcast on a large outdoor screen at Xfinity Live.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, as Chile celebrated a 4-2 win over Panama, the spectacle of the competition came to an end in Philadelphia.

However, the Copa America games at the Linc were likely ones spectators won't soon forget.

On Tuesday, the 20,432 in attendance - mostly red-clad Chile fans - watched as Chile's relentless attacking style went up against the physicality of Panama's squad, which featured a familiar face in former Union midfielder Gabriel Gomez.

Chile's dominance with that aggressive style made its Group D finale a statement all to itself and the experience especially fun for viewers near and far. Eduardo Vargas, who plays for Hoffenheim, and Alexis Sanchez, a forward for Arsenal, proved unstoppable up front, knocking in two goals apiece. The two may not have the name recognition of a Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez, but they were stars on Tuesday.

Philadelphia did get to host Suarez, the soccer celebrity known as much for biting opponents as for his skill on the pitch. But in Philly the injured Barcelona standout was forced to watch from the bench as his Uruguay team, a favorite to advance in the tournament, lost to Venezuela.

After Venezuela's 1-0 win, one of the tournament's biggest upsets, Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel was aware of his surroundings. He compared his team's effort to that of Rocky Balboa.

However, for U.S. soccer fans, the biggest statement of all came Saturday night when Klinsmann's U.S. team overpowered Paraguay, 1-0.

In the stands, 51,041 spirited spectators watched the U.S. team advance to the quarterfinal, a complete rebound from its Copa-opening loss and the heightened criticism of Klinsmann that followed. Meanwhile, 2.061 million viewers, an FS1 record for a men's soccer game, tuned it at home to see veteran forward Clint Dempsey and powerful defender John Brooks spearhead the U.S. team's effort despite the United States being a man down for much of the game.

"The entire team, it was just a wonderful team performance. The crowd understood the moment, too," Klinsmann said. "This is a nail-biter. This is Copa America. [The crowd] gave them support. They gave them energy. . . . I think everyone in the stadium enjoyed it."