The 2019 Copa América quarterfinals commence on Thursday as Brazil and Paraguay face off at the Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
While the Seattle Sounders prepare for their Cascadia clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS), Rave Green standouts Nicolás Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz will be competing in the knockout rounds of the prestigious South American tournament.
Before the quarterfinals get underway, here’s a look back at each of the Sounder’s national team’s performances in the group stage.
After narrowly missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it seemed like Lodeiro might be on the outside looking in for La Celeste. But a string of impressive performances in friendlies and at the 2019 China Cup saw the Sounders midfielder work his way back into the rotation for one of South America’s most storied soccer nations.
Lodeiro was instrumental to Uruguay’s success in a tricky Group C, starting all three matches in a wide midfield role. He supplied his typical relentless running on both sides of the ball and tempo-setting distribution as Uruguay racked up wins over Ecuador (4-0) and Chile (1-0), as well as a draw with Japan (2-2).
It’s odd to say about a player of Lodeiro’s quality and pedigree, but the diminutive playmaker is somehow still underrated on the international level. But after pitching in one goal, one primary assist and two secondary assists from just three matches, the narrative surrounding Seattle’s star player might finally change.
Quarterfinal | Uruguay vs. Peru (June 29 | 12 p.m. PT | Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Brazil; ESPN+)
Peru narrowly snuck into the quarterfinals from Group A, despite suffering a 5-0 loss to Brazil in the final group-stage match. A comfortable win over Bolivia (3-1) and a scoreless draw with Venezuela were enough to secure passage as one of the two best third-placed teams.
While Ruidíaz made the matchday roster for each of the three group-stage fixtures, the Sounders striker has yet to feature in any of the games. This is partially due to game state, as only the Venezuela game called for a striker off the bench, but Head Coach Ricardo Gareca opted to inject some pace and creativity into his midfield instead.
Since Ruidíaz will square off against Uruguay and Lodeiro in the quarterfinals, the Sounders are guaranteed to get one of their two stars back after the match on Saturday.
Quarterfinal | Peru vs. Uruguay (June 29 | 12 p.m. PT | Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Brazil; ESPN+)
Ecuador struggled throughout the South American championship, conceding seven goals in consecutive losses to Uruguay and Chile and a draw with Japan.
Ultimately, national team involvement is all about exposure and introducing players to the level of competition they must meet to represent their country. Additionally, facing different nations with varying styles of play helps expand a player’s base of knowledge.
Quarterfinal | Eliminated in the group stage.