Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, Colombia’s James Rodriguez and Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez are among the players named to their countries’ provisional rosters for next month’s Copa America Centenario soccer tournament.
The 100th anniversary edition of the Copa America, the most important international tournament in the Americas after the World Cup, is being held in the United States for the first time this summer. The 16-team tournament will be played in 10 cities, including Pasadena, which will stage three group-play games, featuring Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.
In addition to Hernandez, Mexico’s preliminary roster includes Galaxy midfielder Giovani dos Santos; Dos Santos’ brother Jonathan, who plays for Spain’s Villarreal; Malaga goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa; midfielder Andres Guardado of Dutch club PSV; and Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela. Mexico will begin its Copa America on June 5 against Uruguay in Phoenix before coming to the Rose Bowl to play Jamaica on June 9.
Argentina, the world’s top-ranked team, will bring a star-studded roster to the Copa America. In addition to Messi, a five-time player of the year, the preliminary roster for the 2014 World Cup runners-up includes Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta and Angel Di Maria of French club Paris Saint-Germain.
But Argentina’s team has not won a major international title since the 2008 Olympics. In addition to losing to Germany in the final of the last World Cup, it lost to Chile in last summer’s Copa America final and last won that tournament in 1993, when Messi was 6.
Uruguay’s roster will be led by Suarez, Messi’s club teammate at Barcelona and the leading scorer in Spain’s La Liga with 35 goals in 33 matches. He’ll be joined on the Uruguayan team by Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin.
Costa Rica, like Colombia a World Cup quarterfinalist two years ago, released a preliminary Copa America roster topped by Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.Defending tournament champion Chile, third in the latest FIFA rankings, named Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez and Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal to its team.
Brazil’s squad, meanwhile, was noteworthy for who was left off. The country’s soccer federation had previously said forward Neymar would not play in the Copa America, clearing him to participate in August’s Olympic tournament in Brazil instead. But World Cup captains Thiago Silva and David Luiz were also left off the team. Chelsea midfielders Oscar and Willian, Barcelona defender Dani Alves and Kaka, a former world player of the year now with Orlando City of Major League Soccer, did make the preliminary roster.
Panama, which beat the U.S. in last summer’s Gold Cup, will be led by former Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, now playing for Costa Rican club Saprissa.
A spot on the preliminary roster does not guarantee a place in the Copa America since teams have to reduce their teams to the tournament limit of 23 players by May 20. The names on the preliminary rosters are still significant, however, since replacements for injured players must come off that list.