Copa America: A team-by-team look at each group – Los Angeles Times

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World ranking: 16

Best Copa America/South American Championship finish: 2nd twice, last in 2001

2015 Copa America finish: Group stage

Key players: F Oribe Peralta, MF Hector Herrera, D Paul Aguilar

Outlook: Mexico may have a new coach in Juan Carlos Osorio, but the internal strife that has long buffeted the team remains. That resulted in Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos turning down a national team call-up for personal reasons, while forward Carlos Vela, who has long feuded with the Mexican federation, wasn’t invited at all. The experienced squad Osorio is left with is still pretty good, though. Forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is coming off a career year at Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored 26 goals in all competitions. He needs four more international goals to become Mexico’s all-time leading scorer. Also back is 37-year-old defender Rafael Marquez and midfielder Andres Guardado, who scored the go-ahead goal in all three of Mexico’s knockout-round wins in last summer’s Gold Cup. Mexico has won an Olympic title and U-17 world championship in the last five years, but two Gold Cups are all this senior team — arguably among the most talented in Mexico’s history — has won in that span. A deep run in this event could end the bickering.


World ranking: 9

Best Copa America/South American Championship finish: Champion 15 times, last in 2011

2015 Copa America finish: Quarterfinals

Key players: D Diego Godin, MF Crisitian Rodriguez, D Max Pereira

Outlook: The loss of striker Luis Suarez to a hamstring injury in last week’s Copa del Rey final was a crippling blow for Uruguay, which has won more Copa America titles than any other country. Suarez, who scored 59 times in all competitions for Barcelona this season, might not be available until the knockout round — if he plays at all. Also working against Uruguay is a schedule that will require the team to travel more than 5,200 miles and play three games in nine days. But the good news is a veteran backline, combined with Paris Saint-Germain forward Edison Cavani up front, that should provide more than enough talent to help the team advance out of a relatively soft group. Uruguay will need Suarez after that, however, because its likely quarterfinal opponent will be Chile or Argentina, two teams ranked among the top three in the world.


World ranking: 74

Best Copa America/South American Championship finish: 4th, 2011

2015 Copa America finish: Group stage

Key players: F Josef Martinez, D Roberto Rosales, MF Tomas Rincon

Outlook: The Bolivar isn’t the only thing plummeting in Venezuela. The national soccer team dropped 38 spots in the world rankings since 2013 and it’s doing even worse in World Cup qualifying, where Venezuela is the only South American country to go through the first six games winless, giving up an average of nearly three goals a game. Things won’t get any better here, where Venezuela has been drawn into a group with Mexico, a team it has never beaten, and Uruguay, which it has beaten only four times in 28 tries. Clearly, Venezuela is hoping for better results under former goalkeeper Rafael Dudamel, who was named coach of the national team in April after the most recent qualifying loss. Dudamel has talent at his disposal, beginning with forward Salomon Rondon, who plays for English club West Bromwich Albion, and center back Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, captain of French first-division team Nantes.


June 5: Jamaica vs. Venezuela, Chicago; Mexico vs. Uruguay, Glendale, Ariz.

June 9: Mexico vs. Jamaica, Rose Bowl; Uruguay vs. Venezuela, Philadelphia

June 13: Mexico vs. Venezuela, Houston; Uruguay vs. Jamaica, Santa Clara



World ranking: 1

Best Copa America/South American Championship finish: Champions 14 times, last in 1993

2015 Copa America finish: 2nd

Key players: F Lionel Messi, GK Sergio Romero, F Gonzalo Higuain

Outlook: Pity Lionel Messi. Arguably the greatest scorer ever, the five-time world player of the year has never won a major senior tournament, losing in the final of the last World Cup and twice falling in the final of the Copa America. And that’s starting to get old for Messi, who glumly accepted the Golden Ball as best player in the 2014 World Cup but refused to collect the MVP award at last summer’s Copa America after Argentina lost to Chile. Messi will once again be surrounded with an outstanding supporting cast that will include Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria and Barcelona clubmate Javier Mascherano.  Missing, however, is Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta, who needed surgery to repair an ankle injury.  So the pressure will be on Messi who, at 28, can feel the window on his career beginning to close. Diego Maradona, Argentina’s favored son, had already won a World Cup by his 28th birthday. But he never won a South American title, something Messi can do here.


World ranking: 79

Best Copa America/South American Championship finish: Champion, 1963

2015 Copa America finish: Quarterfinals

Key players: F Juan Carlos Arce, MF Jhasmani Campos, D Luis Gutierrez

Outlook:  Bolivia, the lowest-rated team in the tournament, will face two of the world’s top three teams in group play, so there’s probably little reason to bother unpacking. But that’s only the beginning of the troubles for Bolivia. Marcelo Martins, the team’s leading scorer in last summer’s Copa America, quit the team along with captain Ronald Raldes in September, citing differences with Coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso. That left much of the offensive load at the feet of Juan Carlos Arce, whose eight international goals make him Bolivar’s leading active scorer. Then there’s Bolivia’s trio of green goalkeepers, who had only 17 international caps between them heading into Saturday’s friendly with the U.S. Bolivia surprised in last summer’s Copa, advancing out of group play for the first time in 18 years. That won’t happen again this year.

Copa America: A team-by-team look at each group – Los Angeles Times