UPDATE: Damm was injured and replaced by Candido
Ramirez of Monterrey on Mexico's roster.
URUGUAY. Two years ago, losses to Costa Rica (in the group phase) and Colombia (round of 16) left Uruguay short of matching its third-place performance at the 2010 World Cup. Last year at the Copa America, it scraped through as a third-place team to quarterfinals, in which it lost to host and eventual champion Chile.
Suarez is expected to miss the group stage to nurse a hamstring injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey final, and so the scoring onus passes to Edinson Cavani, whose club career has stagnated since he transferred from Napoli to Paris St. Germain in 2013. Cavani – burdened at the Copa America last year by a Suarez suspension -- departed the tournament in disgrace against Chile when he flicked at Guillermo Jara’s face and received a second caution.
Defenders Diego Godin and Maxi Pereira provide a strong core that can blunt opposing attacks, and Godin’s prowess on set plays has brought him three goals -- tied with Cavani for the team lead -- in World Cup qualifying. Uruguay is tied with Ecuador in first place (4-1-1, W-L-T) and hasn’t been overly dependent on Suarez, who has netted just one of Uruguay’s 12 qualifying goals.
Player you know: Cavani, 29, has yet to truly impress at a major international competition such as a World Cup or Copa America. Though he was a member of the 2011 squad that lifted the latter trophy, Suarez and Diego Forlan drove the attack.
Player you'll know soon enough: Jose Maria Gimenez, 21, started 27 La Liga games for Atletico Madrid alongside Godin at center back. He is one of the few youngsters in a team loaded with players over 30.
JAMAICA. How the U.S. team performs at major competitions is one of the barometers by which MLS is judged, yet the Jamaicans could field as many league starters as the host nation, despite the withdrawal of San Jose attacker Simon Dawkins because of injury.
Keeper Andre Blake has played a vital role in Philadelphia’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference, the defense and midfield are well-represented with Kemar Lawrence, Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson, and forward Giles Barnes is one of the players who will be counted on for goals.
Jamaica should feel right at home in this competition; aside from its MLS representatives, it rolled to four straight victories last summer at the Gold Cup that included a semifinal triumph over the USA. Its success in that competition was honed by solid efforts at the 2015 Copa America, so on both the Concacaf and Conmebol fronts the Caribbean nation is well-prepared.
Unfortunately, its game against Mexico is at the Rose Bowl in what will be a hostile environment of the highest order and the Reggae Boyz will be a decided underdog against Uruguay as well.
Player you know: Blake started both World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica in March and at 25 is primed for long, successful runs with club and country.
Player you'll know soon enough: Defender Wes Morgan helped backstop Leicester City’s incredible capture of the Premier League title and played well in last year’s arduous run of games.
VENEZUELA. Last year at the Copa America, Venezuela shocked Colombia, 1-0, in its opening game. It kicks off the Centenario against fellow underdog Jamaica a few hours before Mexico tangles with Uruguay, and so the interesting dynamic is whether the minnows go all-out for a victory or regard this first match as one they cannot lose.
One-third of the way through its 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Venezuela is mired in last place with only a single point extracted from six matches. If its players see this tournament as a shot at redemption, Venezuela will be a worthy if outmanned foe. If not, it could be blanked pointless.
Player you know: Salomon Rondon (nine goals in the EPL for West Brom) has a big task on his hands in leading the line.
Player you'll know soon enough: Torino forward Josef Martinez, 23, has also shown flashes of brilliance and at 23 is bright young talent who could have a breakout showing in the Copa.
Group C Schedule:
June 5 in Glendale, Arizona
Mexico vs. Uruguay
June 5 in Chicago
Jamaica vs. Venezuela
June 9 in Pasadena, California
Mexico vs. Jamaica
June 9 in Philadelphia
Uruguay vs. Venezuela
June 13 in Houston
Mexico vs. Venezuela
June 13 in Santa Clara, California
Uruguay vs. Jamaica