What do Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez have in common?
Aside from the fact that they’re world-class players, that is.
All three of them will be representing their nations at the upcoming Copa América Centenario in the U.S., which begins today. And they will be going head-to-head with a few familiar faces.
- READ: What is the Copa América Centenario?
- READ: 10 stars to watch the Copa
- READ: ‘Caps Copa América Predictions
Messi (Argentina) and Sanchez (Chile) are both in Group D – as is Whitecaps FC’s Panamanian striker Blas Pérez. Rodriguez (Colombia), meanwhile, will be facing Whitecaps FC centre back Kendall Waston, midfielder Christian Bolaños, and the Costa Rican national team in Group A.
COSTA RICA SCHEDULE
Saturday, June 4 vs. Paraguay: 2 p.m. PT at Orlando Citrus Bowl
Tuesday, June 7 vs. United States: 5 p.m. PT at Soldier Field in Chicago
Saturday, June 11 vs. Colombia: 6 p.m. PT at NRG Stadium in Houston
Monday, June 6 vs. Bolivia: 4 p.m. PT at Orlando Citrus Bowl
Friday, June 10 vs. Argentina: 6:30 p.m. PT at Soldier Field in Chicago
Tuesday, June 14 vs. Chile: 5 p.m. PT at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia
- Univision Canada will be broadcasting the Copa América in Canada.
“You want your players to test yourselves against the best players,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “There will certainly be the best players at this year’s Copa America and they’ll get the opportunity and experience for it. Players will benefit from that. They’ll go and enjoy the experience.”
‘CAPS AT COPA
Centre back Kendall Waston (Costa Rica):
Waston, 28, has appeared in seven matches for Costa Rican since making his return to the national team at the end of last year.
In those matches, the Ticos have posted a 5W-1L-1D record.
“Kendall’s big, strong, and very aggressive,” Robinson said. “His decision making is very, very good at times. He needs to improve certain aspects of his game, which he has done over the last 18 months. I think you’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the way he’s played. He’s a threat on set plays, for and against. One thing I encourage Kendall to do is to score more goals because he’s bigger and stronger than everyone else. If Costa Rica can continue to put balls into the box for him, he’ll be an asset in the final third.”
Midfielder Christian Bolaños (Costa Rica
): Bolaños, 32, is one of the more experienced players on Costa Rica’s team, having earned 62 caps to date and played in two FIFA World Cups.
In the 2014 World Cup, Bolaños picked up two assists and converted his penalty shootout attempt in a quarter-final loss to the Netherlands.
“Bola is very pleasing in the way he plays,” Robinson said. “His work rate is phenomenal and we’ve seen that in the last number of games. He gets up and down. Anyone who knows Bola knows that’s been a big part of his game when he played in Europe, for the national team and in World Cups. His decision making is phenomenal in the final third areas and his ball manipulation when the defender is trying to get the ball is as good as I’ve seen. We know he’s a top player, we know he’s a top person, and hopefully he can go and show how good he’s been at the Copa.”
Striker Blas Pérez (Panama):
Pérez, 35, is Panama’s second all-time leading goalscorer and third all-time appearances leader.
“I love Blas to bits,” Robinson said. “He’s a typical example of a modern day footballer that you want your young lads to look up to, a bit like Mauro Rosales last year. He trains correctly, he doesn’t cut any corners, and the intensity that he trains with is first class. And I think he shows up when he plays. He’s a perfect example to any young player for how to be a professional and that’s the reason he’s still going strong at 35.”
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