The Copa America Centenario is big for many reasons _ the U.S. is serving as host, it’s the 100th anniversary of South America’s most prestigious tournament and the 16 countries participating will use it as a litmus test to see where they stand before resuming World Cup qualifying. For some players, this Copa will serve as a high-profile showcase that could lead to a big contract at the club level.
These picks cover the matches for June 3 and June 4, using a 4-4-2 formation and salary cap of $90,000 as part of Fan XT’s Daily Fantasy rules for the Copa America tournament.
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese, Peru ($7,040). Gallese had three shutouts in helping Peru to a third-place finish in last year’s Copa in Chile and has the luxury of facing an underwhelming Haiti squad to start. Gallese should turn in a clean sheet here without a lot of work.
Defenders: John Brooks, United States ($7,580). The U.S. backline is lacking cohesion and may allow a goal against Colombia, but if there is one player who can give your fantasy team a boost with a goal from the back line, it’s Brooks. The Hertha Berlin man is a dangerous presence on set pieces offensively and finally coming into his own as a central defender for both club and country.
Dani Alves, Brazil ($7,560). Given the timing of his announcement that Alves is leaving Barcelona despite having a year left on his contract, the veteran defender will be trying to use Copa America to show he still has some speed to burn on the wings while sending in crosses. It also helps Brazil should contain Ecuador defensively, which leads to adding one of his partners on the back line in the bid for bonus clean sheet points.
Gil, Brazil ($7,340). And that would be Gil, who has come into favor for Dunga of late after becoming a full-time starter for Chinese side Shandong Luneng.
Christian Ramos, Peru ($7,030). With the expectation Peru should have little trouble with Haiti in its group opener, finding defenders on the cheap who can provide bonus points for clean sheets is vital to success. Ramos is the most likely to fit that bill on Peru’s back line.
Midfielders: Willian, Brazil ($9,000). With Brazil likely to use a lone striker, this should provide multiple opportunities for the Chelsea star to threaten Ecuador’s goal. Willian is arguably the world’s best and definitely the Copa’s best when it comes to taking free kicks. He had six goals in such situations for Chelsea last season and 14 of his 21 attempts were on target.
Philippe Coutinho, Brazil ($9,000). While Willian will take care of the dead-ball situations, Coutinho will be the one pulling the strings in Brazil’s midfield attack. He is in good form after helping Liverpool reach the Europa League final and also has shown the capability to finish.
James Rodriguez, Colombia ($11,380). Rodriguez enters the Copa with something to prove after being a forgotten man for Champions League winner Real Madrid, totaling just seven goals and eight assists in 26 league matches. He is still a quality playmaker who is capable of world-class finishes. Given the current inconsistencies of the U.S. defense, Rodriguez should be able to create scoring chances.
Michael Bradley, United States ($7,190). At long last, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann is using Bradley in a deep midfielder role as part of a 4-3-3- formation. But that doesn’t define Bradley as solely a box-to-box player. He still is a deft playmaker who can provide an incisive pass and will be a dangerous provider of corner kicks, an area where the Yanks excel.
Attackers: Paolo Guerrero, Peru ($7,310). The leading goal-scorer at the 2011 Copa and the joint-leading scorer last year, Guerrero is a high-value pick for a bargain-basement price given Peru opens the tournament with Haiti. He has scored nine goals in his last 11 Copa matches, recording hat tricks twice.
Carlos Bacca, Colombia ($8,560). After scoring 18 goals _ five of them match-winners _ in a standout season for AC Milan, the combination of Bacca and Rodriguez in attack for Los Cafeteros should give the host U.S. fits in the opening match. He should receive plenty of service from both Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado as Colombia sets out to prove its quarterfinal exit at last year’s Copa was a fluke.
By Chris Altruda /Contributing Writer