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 5, 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: Andre Blake, Jamaica ($7,010). With only two matches and the best attacking options in the day’s other contest between Mexico and Uruguay, Blake is a value pick here given Jamaica’s confidence after reaching the Gold Cup final last year and facing a Venezuela team that has been out of sorts throughout South American World Cup qualifying.
Defenders: Wes Morgan, Jamaica ($7,160). This selection essentially is a doubling down on Jamaica’s ability to turn in a clean sheet. The talisman of longshot Premier League title-winner Leicester City, Morgan is keenly familiar with Venezuela’s chief attacking option of Salomon Rondon, who also played in England for West Bromwich Albion.
Miguel Layun, Mexico ($7,440). Being able to utilize Layun as a defender makes him arguably the best value player in this tournament, and he may be Mexico’s breakout performer at Copa America. The defender had 15 assists for FC Porto and he’s made a seamless transition as a two-way player for El Tri since Juan Carlos Osorio took charge.
Diego Godin, Uruguay ($9,190). Sure it’s a high price for a defender, but given the match schedule, it’s OK to splurge here and take the Atletico Madrid man. He’s also proven to be a consistent yet unexpected producer offensively for La Celeste during this cycle of World Cup qualifying with three goals in four matches.
Jose Maria Gimenez, Uruguay ($8,560). There are a few options here given there isn’t an expensive superstar to spend on lavishly with Luis Suarez out through injury. Mexico’s Rafa Marquez could be an option, but El Tri’s three-man backline makes that sketchy. So using Gimenez, Godin’s central defense partner at Atletico Madrid as well as La Celeste, makes sense here.
Midfielders: Andres Guardado ($7,500). The talisman of Mexico, Guardado has come into his own over the past 12 months, winning the Golden Ball at last year’s Gold Cup and helping PSV Eindhoven win the Dutch title. Guardado is another player who has found a high comfort level for Osorio and should be at the top of his game for this tournament.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Uruguay ($7,310). With Cavani pushed forward to fill Suarez’s spot, someone has to provide the PSG striker service, and that will likely be Lodeiro. This could be a make-or-break tournament for the 27-year-old, who has played well the last two seasons for Argentine side Boca Juniors and could appeal to European teams with a strong showing in the U.S.
Tomas Rincon, Venezuela ($7,280). Given that Rondon is behind Hernandez and Cavani on the pecking order for strikers on this matchday, Rincon becomes the most attractive attacking option for La Vinotinto. He has been one of Genoa’s top playmakers in Italy the past two seasons and is a full-time starter in Venezuela’s current World Cup qualifying cycle.
Hector Herrera, Mexico ($8,000). This is a testament to how well he and Guardardo work together in Mexico’s midfield. While both prefer to attack through the middle, they also know how to work in tandem with one another and have the green light to shoot wherever they find open spaces in the final third. Herrera may be the more unlikely goal-scorer of the two, but it won’t be for lack of effort.
Forwards: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico ($8,380). His match-winning goal against Chile in Mexico’s final tune-up for this tournament continued Hernandez’s blistering form. He had 26 goals across all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen this past season and while he missed the Gold Cup last year through injury, Chicharito has always delivered for El Tri on the biggest international stages.
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay ($9,500). With Suarez out through injury, there is a lot of pressure on Cavani’s shoulders to get La Celeste through the group stage with the hopes his prolific teammate will be healthy enough to return. Cavani scored 25 goals in all matches for PSG, closing the club’s side treble-winning campaign with a flourish, and he’ll be eager to atone for a poor Copa America performance last year in which he failed to score in four matches and was given a red card.
By Chris Altruda