There really are no secrets left for all four teams playing Saturday and Sunday in the Copa America consolation and championship matches in the United States. The undercard in Arizona features the host Yanks looking to avenge a 2-0 defeat to Colombia that opened the tournament. Both goals came on set pieces _ Cristian Zapata volleyed home a corner kick and James Rodriguez converted a penalty after a handball was whistled on DeAndre Yedlin.
Los Cafeteros were clearly the better team in that match, though the U.S. showed its trademark resilience in bouncing back with wins over Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador before being overwhelmed by Argentina 4-0 in the semifinals. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann is still feeling a little heat despite having reached his semifinal target, and is expected to field what should be a lineup at or near full strength.
It’s a bit of a mystery what Colombia will do for its starting XI following its 2-0 defeat to Chile in the other semifinal _ manager Jose Pekerman did rest most of his regulars for the final group match against Costa Rica, and this contest could serve him well in looking at the younger players on the squad. That means the DFS player who selects Rodriguez and his $11,380 price tag is taking a huge risk given the Real Madrid man may not even play in this contest.
That sets the stage for Sunday’s mouth-watering final at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where Chile will meet Argentina in a Copa America final for the second straight year and for the second time in this tournament. La Albiceleste were able to post a 2-1 victory over Chile despite not having the services of superstar Lionel Messi, and the Barcelona striker has wreaked havoc in his limited playing time since his return _ he is in contention to win the Golden Boot.
There are plenty of stars beyond Messi in this contest _ Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria, Arturo Vidal and Gonzalo Higuain just to name a few. But all of them have very big price tags, and the challenge is to juggle cap-friendly players with those stars while striking the right balance of potential points offensively with defenders who may give you a clean sheet and any sort of offensive points as gravy.
This specific lineup includes Messi and Vidal as the two highest-priced players, with Eduardo Vargas and Edwin Cardona serving as value picks in the midfield. While there is risk in selecting Cardona, he would appear more likely to be included in an overturned roster than Rodriguez if Pekerman goes that rout.
If one wants to opt out of utilizing Messi and Vidal, an alternate lineup can be created with Sanchez and Higuain at the forward positions and Di Maria in the midfield as well as Vargas and Cardona. For that, you would need to swap in U.S. midfielder Fabian Johnson for Chile’s Jose Fuenzalida and Zapata for Argentina’s Marco Rojo. You can also choose between Johnson and Fuenzalida for the lineup below and barely sneak under the $90,000 salary cap.
These are the picks for the consolation and championship matches being played June 25 and 26 at the Copa America, using a 4-4-2 formation and $90,000 salary cap as part of FanXT’s DFS rules.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero, Argentina ($7,310). While there’s no guarantee Romero will turn in a clean sheet in the final, he’s definitely well-rested after the U.S. failed to even take a shot. The Manchester United No. 2 keeper had five saves in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Chile in group play, with the goal coming deep in second-half stoppage time. Romero has three wins and one loss in four lifetime matches against La Rojo, but the loss came in last year’s Copa America final on penalties.
Defenders: Gonzalo Jara, Chile ($7,060). Jara has been selected for every matchday, and this is no exception since he provides needed cap flexibility with Messi’s inclusion in this lineup. He has steadied a back line that has posted consecutive shutouts after being breached for five goals in group play.
Gabriel Mercado, Argentina ($7,280). Much like Jara, Mercado is a cap-friendly pick who also has the potential to get forward at times. While Chile’s high-pressing style may limit those opportunities, Mercado has shown to be a heady player on the ball and has been steady in helping Romero limit opponents’ scoring chances.
Marco Rojo, Argentina ($8,130). The Manchester United wing back has been quietly effective in this tournament with a pair of assists. Given Chile’s propensity to go through the middle as it tries to funnel its offense through Sanchez, there should be times when Rojo can find space on the flanks to press forward as Argentina transitions from offense to defense.
DeAndre Yedlin, United States ($7,090). Yedlin is in this lineup partly for cap flexibility, but the Sunderland back has something to prove in this last match. He has yet to put forth a top-notch effort at the Copa America, and his red card against Paraguay remains his only “highlight.” But there is no one better at right outside back for the U.S. than the speedy Yedlin, and with everything to gain in a match that should be fast-paced, he may surprise with some forays forward.
Midfielders: Arturo Vidal, Chile ($9,310). The heart of Chile’s midfield, Vidal enters the final against Argentina fully rested after sitting out the semifinal victory over Colombia for accruing two yellow cards. The Bayern Munich has two goals and two assists in his four contests and remains second on the team with eight shots on goal despite sitting out one contest. He also serves as a counterweight to not having Sanchez since he will see plenty of the ball in this contest at MetLife Stadium. Vidal had a shot on goal and a yellow card in the loss to Argentina during group play, and while it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pick up another caution to set the tone in this match, his potential for points far outweighs that small price you might pay.
Eduardo Vargas, Chile ($7,340). Having Messi and Vidal means not having Sanchez, which makes Vargas’ inclusion in this lineup vital. He’s barely ahead of Messi for the Golden Boot at this tournament, and for lineup purposes, Vidal’s return to the midfield means Vargas should be able to push forward as a striker. The Hoffenheim forward has an impressive strike rate over his last two Copa tournaments, netting 10 goals and two assists in 11 matches.
Jose Fuenzalida, Chile ($7,040) OR Fabian Johnson, United States ($7,440). The Boca Juniors veteran scored in the group loss to Argentina and added his second of the tournament in the semifinal victory over Colombia, tapping home a rebound from a shot by Sanchez that caromed off the post and right into his path. Fuenzalida has been a key reason Chile has taken off since that defeat to the Albiceleste, and he should be able to again carve out a scoring chance or two. In the case of Johnson, there’s a chance he may be moved into his more natural midfield position from left back where he’s playing for the Yanks, which means he could get forward for scoring opportunities.
Edwin Cardona, Colombia ($7,340). While Cardona has yet to score, he hasn’t been bashful about trying to get goals. His 13 shots trail only James Rodriguez (15) on Los Cafeteros, and he is tied for second with four of them on goal. Cardona does have assists on two of Colombia’s six goals, and against a U.S. team that may be employing an experimental midfield, the Monterrey midfielder is a good value pick.
Forwards: Bobby Wood, United States ($7,090). On the surface, it seems counterintuitive to pick a striker from the consolation match, especially one who plays for the underdog as the U.S. try to avenge a 2-0 defeat to Colombia suffered in group play. But Wood has a few factors going in his favor, most notably he carries a cap-friendly number. He also should be playing in this contest since he sat out the loss to Argentina due to picking up two yellow cards in the previous four matches. Wood already has a well-taken goal in this tournament and would like nothing more than to show up at camp for his new team Hamburger SV full of confidence following another solid international performance.
Lionel Messi, Argentina ($14,500). No one can deny Messi’s form at this tournament, where he has racked up five goals and four assists in a mere 254 minutes of play. He dismantled the U.S. in the semifinals, setting up two goals around his incredible 30-yard free kick that fizzed inside the upper 90 on the right to fuel Argentina’s 4-0 rout. Yes, the degree of difficulty in facing Chile is exponentially higher, though Messi sat out Argentina’s 2-1 victory in group play as he nursed a back injury. He has two goals in four lifetime matches against Chile and suffered eight fouls in last year’s Copa America final, given added meaning to him being a “marked man.” Messi, though, showed Tuesday night he’s 100 percent healthy and his form is top-notch _ he is definitely worth the exorbitant price tag he carries.
Total Salary Cost: $89,490 with Fuenzalida ($510 left over), $89,890 with Johnson ($110 left over).
By Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73)