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Players to watch at the Copa America

Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports
Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports

The 2016 Copa America will have no shortage of talent, as many of the world’s best players take the field in the U.S. this summer.

Featuring traditional powerhouses like Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, the South American tournament always features an abundance of talent. With the likes of Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez and Luis Suarez set to take the field once again, this summer’s tournament promises plenty of fireworks from the CONMEBOL sides.

In honor of the tournament’s 100 year anniversary, the 2016 Copa America adds several CONCACAF sides to the mix, as the U.S. Men’s National Team joins Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama and Haiti in the tournament field.

Have a look at the top non-USMNT players that are set to headline this summer’s Copa America:


DIEGO ALVES. (BRAZIL). A star with La Liga club Valencia, Alves is the lone veteran goalkeeper on a very young Brazil roster.

CLAUDIO BRAVO (CHILE). Bravo made 35 appearances for Spanish champions Barcelona this season, and is likely the most highly-touted goalkeeper in the field in the absence of Keylor Navas.

DAVID OSPINA (COLOMBIA). The Arsenal goalkeeper may be buried behind Petr Cech on the club level, but Ospina has made 64 appearances for Colombia and could be looking to impress a new club this summer.

ANDRE BLAKE (JAMAICA) Blake will look to carry a hot-streak into the Copa America as he continues to develop as a budding star with the Philadelphia Union.

FERNANDO MUSLERA (URUGUAY). Muslera has been Uruguay’s go-to goalkeeper for years, playing every minute at the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America.


NICHOLAS OTAMENDI (ARGENTINA). Defense has long been La Albiceleste’s weakness, but the Manchester City centerback is entering his prime at 28-years-old.

MARQUINHOS (BRAZIL). Long recognized as Brazil’s next big centerback, Marquinhos will be given his chance to shine in the absence of David Luiz and Thiago Silva.

GARY MEDEL (CHILE). Medel is a player that can slot in on defense or in the midfield, and provides a pit bull mentality despite his five-foot-seven-inch stature.

JEISON MURILLO (COLOMBIA). Just 24-years-old, Murillo enjoyed a breakout year with Inter Milan and will look to continue his emergence in the center of Colombia’s defense.

WES MORGAN (JAMAICA). After captaining Leicester City to the Premier League title, Morgan returns to Jamaica after beginning his remarkable run at last year’s Copa America.

HECTOR MORENO (MEXICO). The PSV Eindhoven defender missed out on last summer’s Gold Cup and will be looking to lead Mexico from the back in this year’s tournament.

PAULO DA SILVA (PARAGUAY). A true veteran, the 36-year-old centerback has been a key member of the Paraguay backline for over a decade.

JOSE GIMENEZ (URUGUAY). Alongside club and country teammate Godin, Gimenez has emerged as a legitimate defender at just 21-years-old.

DIEGO GODIN (URUGUAY). Widely-recognized as a contender for the world’s best defender, Diego Godin is the backbone of both Uruguay and Atletico Madrid.


DANI ALVES (BRAZIL). One of the most decorated players in the history of the game, Alves has won countless trophies in his career while bringing an attacking flair to the right back position for Brazil and Barcelona.

FELIPE LUIS (BRAZIL). A talented left back, Luis has rebuilt his career with Atletico Madrid and played a key role in what was one of the world’s top defensive units this past season.

MAURICIO ISLA (CHILE). Isla is a versatile right-sided player that fits in perfectly to Chile’s favorited three-at-the-back formation.

SANTIAGO ARIAS (COLOMBIA). The PSV Eindhoven fullback has been a part of the Colombian setup for the past several years and can cover ridiculous amounts of ground due to his wealth of pace.

RONALD MATARRITA (COSTA RICA). The fullback has become a key member during his short stint with NYCFC and provides a legitimate attacking threat down the right side.

WATER AYOVI (ECUADOR). The 36-year-old fullback has seen better days, but, with 111 caps to his name, Ayovi brings a wealth of experience to a talented Ecuador team.

KEMAR LAWRENCE (JAMAICA). The 23-year-old New York Red Bulls defender broke out in 2015, and could be looking at a potential move to Europe with another impressive summer.

MIGUEL LAYUN (MEXICO). A fullback with attacking and defensive skills in abundance, Layun is a remarkable two-way player and is coming off a wonderful season with Porto.

PAUL AGUILAR (MEXICO). An attack-minded right back with a wonderful shot, Aguilar has the pace and technique to cause havoc down the right side.

MAXI PEREIRA (URUGUAY). Pereira is a hard-nosed defender, who was a standout for Porto after joining the club from rivals Benfica ahead of this past season.


JAVIER MASCHERANO (ARGENTINA). A true bulldog in the midfield or in defense, Mascherano is one of the game’s most fearless players and brings a lot of bite to the Argentina lineup.

JAVIER PASTORE (ARGENTINA). On a team full of playmakers, Pastore is one of the most comfortable with the ball at his feet while also providing on the defensive end.

PHILLIPE COUTINHO (BRAZIL). The 23-year-old has become a star with Liverpool, with his highlight-reel long shots and ability to pick out a pass serving as a welcome addition to the Brazil squad.

CASEMIRO (BRAZIL). In all likelihood, Casemiro is Real Madrid’s most under-appreciated player, as the defensive-minded midfielder holds down the fort for one of the Champions League winners.

LUIS GUSTAVO (BRAZIL). A true defensive midfielder, Gustavo missed last year’s Copa America due to a knee injury and will be looking to marshall a young Brazil midfield in 2016.

ARTURO VIDAL (CHILE). The Bayern Munich midfielder overcame a summer full of off-the-field transgressions to help lead Chile to the title last year. 

JAMES RODRIGUEZ (COLOMBIA). The playmaker’s run through the 2014 World Cup remains one of the most memorable in recent years, despite Rodriguez’s struggles with Real Madrid this season.

ANDRES GUARDADO (MEXICO). Guardado remains the heart and soul of El Tri, as evidenced by his heroic performances in last year’s Gold Cup.

HECTOR HERRERA (MEXICO). Herrera became a star for FC Porto this past season by scoring a career-high nine goals for the Portuguese powerhouse.

NICHOLAS LODEIRO (URUGUAY). The Boca Juniors star has provided five goals and three assists for Boca Junior in 2016 and has been a key member of Uruguay since the 2010 World Cup.


EZEQUIEL LAVEZZI (ARGENTINA). This summer’s tournament will be a big one for Lavezzi, who looks to prove he still belongs after a move to China’s Hebei China Fortune.

ANGEL DI MARIA (ARGENTINA). A move to Paris Saint-Germain helped reinvigorate Di Maria’s career, and the 28-year-old playmaker has the tools to pick apart even the world’s top defenses.

LIONEL MESSI (ARGENTINA). The Argentinian star cannot be done justice by a quick description, as Messi will look to justify his standing as world’s best with an international trophy this summer.

ERIK LAMELA (ARGENTINA). Lamela and Tottenham came up short in their title run, but the Argentine winger contributed 11 total goals for the club this past season.

HULK (BRAZIL). A somewhat underrated player on the club level due to where he plays, the Zenit St. Petersburg is one of the most physically gifted players in the field while also possessing a rocket of a shot from the right side.

WILLIAN (BRAZIL). Willian was one of the only players to actually show up for Chelsea this season, and the winger’s free kick ability could prove a valuable asset to a weakened Brazil squad.

JUAN CUADRADO (COLOMBIA). One of the trickiest players out there, Cuadrado is as fast as anyone in the field and is one of the most electric dribblers in soccer today.

JOEL CAMPBELL (COSTA RICA). Still a young player pursuing minutes at Arsenal, Campbell is already a star for Costa Rica and has shined plenty of times on the international level.

BRYAN RUIZ (COSTA RICA). A true veteran, Ruiz had a spectacular season for Sporting Club de Portugal that saw the Costa Rican net nine goals.

JUAN ITURBE (PARAGUAY). Previously an Argentinian youth international, Iturbe switched allegiances to Paraguay and was cap-tied in March.


SERGIO AGUERO (ARGENTINA). Aguero has been one of the Premier League’s best for quite some time, and has generally served as the primary forward in Argentina’s 2015 Copa America lineup.

GONZALO HIGUAIN (ARGENTINA). One of the most in-form forwards in the world, Higuain broke a 66-year-old record for most goals in a Serie A season with 36.

JONAS (BRAZIL). Although he wasn’t originally called up to Brazil’s roster, the Benfica forward probably should have been after 32 goals for Benfica.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ (CHILE). The Arsenal star was a star in Chile’s run to the Copa America crown last year, and will be the most important players to the nation’s hopes of repeating.

CARLOS BACCA (COLOMBIA). Bacca continued his emergence as a star with AC Milan, scoring 18 goals in 34 games this past season.

ENNER VALENCIA (ECUADOR). A key cog in West Ham’s run to a Europa League birth, Valencia is a tricky forward that should serve as the focal point of Ecuador’s attack.

JAVIER ‘CHICHARITO’ HERNANDEZ (MEXICO). The Mexican striker enjoyed what might have been his best season to date, scoring 17 goals while leading Bayer Leverkusen to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga.

EDINSON CAVANI (URUGUAY). With 19 league goals for Paris Saint-Germain this season, Cavani provides a hulking presence for one of the world’s most dangerous attacks.

LUIS SUAREZ (URUGUAY). Although he enters the tournament with an injury, the Barcelona forward is perhaps the best in the world today, a fact legitimized by 40 goals and 16 assists in La Liga.

SALOMON RONDON (VENEZUELA) The West Brom star is a battering ram of a player, and has used his large frame to score a goal in each of the last two Copa America.

Which players do you expect to standout at the Copa America?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I know this is meant to be a non-USMNT list, but it would be nice to have had some of the most promising US players included in the list of top football talent from the Americas. At least to see where they stand versus the best in this part of the world.

  2. Kemar Lawrence has been a sieve with the Red Bulls this season. He was anointed a “future European player” last year by his coach with half of a very good campaign on his career resume. Somehow the positive reputation has stuck.

  3. Really? Not a single American? What about Brooks, Yedlin, Pulisic or Nagbe? I think at least 1 of this players is worthy of recognition or consideration for this list.


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