Costa Rica (FIFA Rank 25) v Paraguay (39)
Costa Rica is in the midst of their 'Golden Generation' and expectations are high after making it to the Quarterfinals of Brazil 2014. Costa Rica shocked all the pundits when they topped their group in Brazil that consisted of Uruguay, England and Italy. The Ticos suffered a blow when Real Madrid starter and Champions League winner and Costa Rican starting goalkeeper Keylor Navas was ruled out of the tournament with an achilles injury this week.
Paraguay has the Seattle Sounders own Nelson Haedo Valdez on the roster but their squad will be without long term striker and talisman Roque Santa Cruz who was left off the squad. Paraguay picked a very young squad and feature Juan Iturbe, who was a youth international with Paraguay but played a friendly with Argentina and then recently filed a one time switch back to Paraguay after seeing his prospects with Argentina being blocked by a plethora of talented attackers. Iturbe could be a catalyst in attack for Paraguay or a lightning rod for fan criticism if their tournament does not start well. One way or another the player once dubbed the "New Messi" will be a talking point.
Haiti (71) v Peru (46)
When Seattle was picked to host Copa America this is probably not what the fans had in mind when we all bought three game ticket packs. (Or did we? Ticket sale reports are sporadic and it looks like the secondary market is flooded with great deals for this match.) Haiti is an inspiring tale of resilience and they were a longshot to even qualify for Copa America Centenario, they beat favored Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in Panama in the one game play-off. But since the earthquake that devastated their country in 2010, the national soccer team has seen an increased run of form. They defend extremely well as a unit, but will have troubles scoring.
Peru finished third in last year's Copa America and played extremely well, they looked like a team on the rise. But it looks like management has decided to use this tournament as a sort of soft reset on national team roster and has picked an extremely young squad. The entire starting defense that was so good last summer is not on this roster, giving hope for Haiti.
Brazil (7) v Ecuador (12)
Brazil has clearly prioritized the Olympic tournament on home soil later this summer over Copa America, leaving Neymar, David Luiz and Marcelo off the squad with that tournament in mind. But a free flowing Brazil free of expectations might be exactly what this tournament needs. It's no exaggeration that Brazil are still one of the most talented squads in the world but they have lost Ricardo Oliveira, Douglas Costa, Rafinha, Ederson & now Kaká (Douglas Costa's replacement) to injuries. And despite those losses and the Olympic holdouts, their roster still looks like a team you would put together on FIFA career mode for potential alone.
Let's be honest, Ecuador is not good in Copa America. Their best finish ever is fourth place and only Ecuador and Venezuela have not lifted the trophy. But they have started off well in World Cup Qualifying with a 4-1-1 record and boast some proven Premier League talent in Enner Valencia, Jeferson Montero and Antonio Valencia. While their Copa America track record is not good, with a favorable draw maybe the Copa America Centenario will be Ecuador's time to shine?
How To Watch:
This is your Sounder at Heart Copa America Day 2 Gamethread, watch with us.