Heading into the second matchday of Group C at the Copa Centenario, Uruguay has the most at stake following its 3-1 loss to Mexico to start group play. The Celeste are in last place with a minus-2 goal differential heading into their continental grudge match against Venezuela, which emerged with a well-earned 1-0 victory over Jamaica.
The Reggae Boyz, though, will be hard-pressed to shut down a Mexican team firing on all cylinders and carrying a 10-match winning streak and 20-match unbeaten run in all international play. The match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena _ arguably as close to a home game Mexico can have that’s not at Estadio Azteca _ will also serve as a rematch of last year’s Gold Cup final won by El Tri.
But for Fan XT’s DFS purposes, the challenge on this matchday is creating the right midfield combination because three key players _ Mexico’s Andres Guardado, Uruguay’s Matias Vecino and Jamaica’s Rodolph Austin _ are all unavailable after being issued red cards. At the forward position, there is still uncertainty over the status of Uruguay star Luis Suarez, though coach Oscar Tabarez ruled him out during Wednesday’s press conference.
These picks cover the matches for June 9, 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: Fernando Muslera, Uruguay ($7,940). It’s real simple for the Galatasaray keeper, win or Uruguay is eliminated. That’s usually enough for any keeper to be motivated, and Muslera is also trying to shake off a subpar game. The good news for him is that Venezuela does not have anywhere near the speed Mexico possesses, so he should be less busy this match.
Defenders: Miguel Layun, Mexico ($7,440). Layun continues to be a high-value, high-reward pick for your back line as he likely will be asked to push forward more since El Tri may switch to a 3-5-2 formation to blunt some of Jamaica’s speed on the flanks. He also should see more of the ball with Guardado not in the lineup.
Diego Godin, Uruguay ($9,190). The heart of Uruguay’s central defense, the Atletico Madrid man snapped into a life with a goal that briefly pulled La Celeste even. While the two-goal loss canceled out a good portion of his points from the goal scored, he’s more than capable of finding the back of the net again.
Wes Morgan, Jamaica ($7,160). Morgan was an intriguing character in Jamaica’s 1-0 loss to Venezuela. The coaching staff allowed him not to start since Morgan had been (rightfully) celebrating Leicester City’s title-winning season in England. But after his insertion late into the first half, even being down a man, the Reggae Boyz looked like an entirely different team and pushed forward in vain for an equalizer. While Jamaica is a clear underdog, Morgan’s effort will tell if his team are willing to give Mexico a match.
Rafa Marquez, Mexico ($7,020). Seemingly ageless, the long-time anchor of El Tri’s backline had a turn back the clock effort against Uruguay and even provided a goal. Without Guardado, Marquez is going to be counted on for Mexico’s distribution into the midfield and will see plenty of the ball. And even at 37 years of age, he’s still a threat to score.
Midfielders: Hector Herrera, Mexico ($8,000). Herrera delivered a solid effort against Uruguay and provided takers with an injury-time goal to seal Mexico’s victory. Without Guardado, Herrera definitely will have more touches in the midfield, the key is how he pushes up in tandem with Chicharito and Guardado’s potential replacements.
Carlos Sanchez, Uruguay ($7,310). Sanchez is Uruguay’s dead-ball specialist and takes a majority of its corner kicks. With Vecino serving his red-card ban, Sanchez is going to find himself on the ball more during play and should have opportunities to link up with Edinson Cavani in the final third.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Uruguay ($7,310). Though largely anonymous the first match, Lodeiro is “the best athlete available” in midfield given the lack of quality options because of the three red cards issued across the previous two matches. Like Sanchez, he should find more pockets of opportunity and time against a slower Venezuela team, but Lodeiro needs to deliver on them.
Alejandro Guerra, Venezuela ($7,040). While Guerra probably won’t get the chance to unload six corner kicks like he did against Jamaica while La Vinotinto played with a man advantage, he could emerge as their danger man for this match. The other reason for Guerra’s inclusion is he provides some cap flexibility at the forward position.
Forwards: Javier Hernandez, Mexico ($8,380). While he didn’t find the back of the net, Chicharito was a constant threat and man in motion for Mexico. Hernandez has failed to score in either of his previous matches against Jamaica, but he has carved out scoring chances. If things break his way, a brace would give him 46 goals for El Tri, matching Jared Borgetti atop Mexico’s all-time list.
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay ($9,500). This lineup has afforded DFS players a choice. The first option is to select Cavani, knowing he’s a near-lock to start, to probably lead the line for Uruguay and try to atone for a sub-par performance against Mexico. Or, you can risk putting Suarez in the lineup _ there’s enough cap space here to absorb his $12,630 price tag _ with the hopes that a must-win match will compel Tabarez to go contrary to his previous comments and use the Barcelona striker. There’s no guarantee Suarez will even suit up, but as James Rodriguez proved Tuesday night for Colombia, no one is truly ruled out until the roster sheets are submitted at the stadium.
Caveat emptor, indeed.