From Endrick to Adams: 10 players ready to shine at Copa América

OOne of the great things about soccer in America is the mix of players capable of playing at an international level. Peru will trust 40-year-old Paolo Guerrero again during a Copa América, Chile will turn to 41-year-old goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, while future stars such as 17-year-old Kendry Páez of Ecuador and 19-year-old Valentín Carboni of Argentina will play in their major international tournament.

Between the extremes, there are plenty of players in their prime who will dazzle. We trust you’re familiar with Lionel Messi, Vinícius Júnior and Luis Díaz, so here are 10 players who should shine in the US this summer – if not as shine as the Ballon d’Or candidates.

Tyler Adams, United States, midfielder

While Christian Pulisic is the star, Adams is perhaps the USMNT’s most impactful player. The US will rely on Adams to set the tone in midfield and protect a backline that has had its ups and downs. He showed in the Nations League that he can make a move long-range target out of the hat too, but that would just be the icing on the cake for American fans if Adams stays healthy and plays his usual game in the middle.

Salomón Rondón, Venezuela, striker

A familiar name to Premier League fans, but probably forgotten by many. Still, the 34-year-old is in the form of his life heading into the Copa America after helping CF Pachuca to the Concacaf Champions Cup title with nine goals in seven games. He also scored 10 goals in 21 Liga MX matches after joining Los Tuzos as a free agent after a spell at River Plate. If he is assigned this summer to the Vinotintohe will score.

Endrick, Brazil, striker

The glorious legacy has asked to be allowed to chart his own path rather than be compared to Pelé, Ronaldo or more modern Brazilian exports such as his soon-to-be Real Madrid teammate Vinícius Jr. old is playing its first major senior tournament. With his powerful left foot, smart movements and confidence beyond his years, no defense will want to see him tuck his shirt in and prepare to come on late in the game. This will be a defining tournament for Brazil, who have struggled in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. And it could be just as defining for Endrick, who gets his first chance to lead his national team to success on a big stage .

Ismaël Koné, Canada, midfielder

Koné is the top candidate to (finally) add another name to the list of Canadian stars – after you count Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David. The central midfielder drew inspiration from a confident performance against France in a 0-0 pre-tournament draw. His connections with Davies, David and others could give Canada a spark they haven’t had yet, especially as his rapport with Stephen Eustáquio in the middle of the field continues to grow.

Manfred Ugalde, Costa Rica, forward

Back at Costa Rica after a falling out with the previous manager, Ugalde will take charge Los Ticos. The 22-year-old moves sharply into space, is patient in the penalty area and better in the air than he has any right to be at 6ft 6in, and is entering his first major senior tournament expecting to cement his status as Costa Rica’s new to strengthen the star. He opened the scoring in a friendly against Argentina in March and now has the chance to add Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay to his list.

Igor Lichnovsky, Chile, defender

Liga MX’s only back-to-back-to-back champion, 30-year-old Lichnovsky, plays a crucial role in late LaRoja‘s back line. Lichnovsky is a stern defender with a knack for the occasional goal, and new Chile boss Ricardo Gareca has leaned on him in his first games. Born in Chile to an Austrian father, Lichnovsky is a character off the field also. It remains to be seen whether the entertainment he provides will be football related or whether the fireworks will come his way live streams.

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Nicolás de la Cruz, Uruguay, attacking midfielder

Flamengo star De la Cruz is understandably not as well known as teammates like Darwin Núñez, Luis Suárez or Federico Valverde, who excelled at top European clubs, and is still beloved in South America. He brings a different dimension to Uruguay, sometimes keeping the ball at his feet to beat another midfielder one-on-one or playing a quick pass to start an attack wide. He has also scored three goals in World Cup qualifying and will be hoping to add to that tally this tournament.

Piero Hincapié, Ecuador, full-back

a key piece In Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga win and Europa League final, Hincapié will be called upon to man the left-back spot La Tri with Pervis Estupiñán injured. That requires him to come forward more aggressively than when playing in Xabi Alonso’s system for Leverkusen. But it will give him the chance to combine with one of Ecuador’s many promising wide forwards – Chelsea’s Páez is the most exciting – and further burnish his growing reputation.

Giovani Lo Celso, Argentina, midfielder

Lo Celso returns to the defending champions after an injury cost him a place in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup-winning squad. He is unlikely to play as big a role as he did when he started five games and played six of Argentina’s 2021 Copa triumph in Brazil, but he will start four friendlies this year and a long-term relationship with Messi suggests he might. get more minutes than initially expected.

Jhon Arias, Colombia, striker

Arias is a late bloomer and enters the Copa América having scored in each of Colombia’s last three matches, continuing the momentum he built with Fluminense. Comfortable from the right wing to the left or popping up in the center channel, Arias gets to the right place at the right time. Plenty of European suitors are eyeing the 26-year-old, with West Ham reportedly leading the way.