Nelson Haedo Valdez, Paraguay
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Paraguay: Copa America Centenario Team Guide

Sometimes considered cautious overachievers, Paraguay is generally a team with solid abilities that produce decent results. They tend to escape the group stage at major tourneys, only to fall short in the knockouts.

3 Stars

  • Jorge Benitez (Cruz Azul/Mexico) – The young forward broke out during the Clausura campaign, bagging 11 goals in 17 games. In addition to being fast, tricky and a lethal finisher, Benitez is also a first class rebound hound.
  • Derlis Gonzalez (Dinamo Kyiv/Ukraine) – The reigning Paraguayan Player of the Year can operate anywhere in attack, but is most comfy on left wing. The speedy Gonzalez is a blend of the modern winger who likes to cut inside to shoot and the old-school version that aims to set up his striker. He's also good with combos in tight spaces, but is a bit slavish to his right foot.
  • Justo Villar (Colo Colo/Chile) – Every time the pundits count out the 38-year old, he comes back with a vengeance to claim the No. 1 job. He has a Copa silver medal from 2011 and backstopped Paraguay to fourth place last year. Villar also helped his nation to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2010.

Manager

Ramon Diaz – A former Argentina striker, Diaz eventually coached River Plate to six national titles and a Copa Libertadores triumph. Diaz, who spent more than half of his playing career in France and Italy, took his first national team job with Paraguay after their miserable 2014 World Cup qualifying failure. After several shaky friendly performances, he saw the team past Brazil in the 2015 Copa America quarters, eventually taking Paraguay to a fourth-place finish.

Copa America Group A Schedule

June 4 vs. Costa Rica (5 pm ET, Camping World Stadium – Orlando, Fl.)
June 7 vs. Colombia (10:30 pm ET, Rose Bowl – Pasadena, Ca.)
June 13 vs. United States (9 pm ET, Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pa.)
Full schedule

Copa America Squad

Goalkeepers (3): Diego Barreto, Antony Silva, Justo Villar
Defenders (7): Fabian Balbuena, Gustavo Gomez, Blas Riveros, Miguel Samudio, Paulo Da Silva, Bruno Valdez, Ivan Piris
Midfielders (6): Miguel Almiron, Celso Ortiz, Robert Piris Da Motta, Rodrigo Rojas, Oscar Romero, Victor Ayala
Forwards (7): Edgar Benitez, Jorge Benitez, Derlis Gonzalez, Juan Manuel Iturbe, Dario Lezcano, Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Valdez

Starting XI (4-4-2)

  • GK: Justo Villar (Colo Colo)
  • RB: Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteño)
  • CB: Paulo da Silva (Toluca)
  • CB: Pablo Aguilar (Club America)
  • LB: Miguel Samudio (Club America)
  • DM: Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar)
  • DM: Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo)
  • RM: Derlis Gonzalez (Dinamo Kyiv)
  • LM: Edgar Benitez (Queretaro)
  • FW: Dario Lezcano (Ingolstadt
  • FW: Jorge Benitez (Cruz Azul)

Style of play

Though they probably have nearly as much overall skill as a team like Chile, Paraguay operates more cautiously. When they are on, the games are tight, low-scoring affairs. They tend to soak up pressure, and then look to make plays on the counter with their wingers driving the rush. At the back, they tend to play it straight, relying on a veteran spine of defenders to carry a heavy load.

How they qualified

Automatically qualified as one of 10 South American nations.

Copa America history

Paraguay have won this tournament twice, but not since 1979. That was also their most recent trip to the final, but Los Guaranies did snap a 26-year semifinal drought in 2015. They've only missed the knockout phase once since 1991.

Memorable moments

Paraguay have won the South American Championship twice, in 1953 and 1979, and they snapped a long final drought by earning their sixth runners-up finish in 2011. They reached their first World Cup elite eight in 2010, but after a yeoman's effort, were ousted on a late David Villa goal by eventual champs Spain.

United States vs Paraguay

Matches US Wins US Losses Draws
Overall 2 2 2
Official Competitions 1 1 2
Friendlies 1 1 0

MLS Connections

Only two Paraguayans have played in MLS, with Seattle forward Nelson Valdez the only active player from his country. A midseason arrival last year, Valdez has scored in his league, playoff and Champions League debuts for the Sounders.

Team Guides

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