URUGUAY READY TO MAKE SOME NOISE AGAIN
For the second consecutive World Cup cycle, Uruguay had to rely on an intercontinental playoff to make it to the big dance. But despite their struggles during South American qualifying, the Charruas are still one of the most experienced and talented teams in the world and capable of making a deep run just as they did nearly four years ago in South Africa.
GROUP D SCHEDULE
Luis Suarez: Hero or Villain?
WHO GOT THEM THERE
Luis Suárez, F, Liverpool: The polarizing yet prolific striker was the top goal-scorer in South America, netting 11 times for a Uruguay team that needed every single one of his goals given its leaky defense. Vital piece.
Edinson Cavani, F, Paris Saint-Germain: With Diego Forlán on the decline, Cavani stepped up in a big way by providing another goalscoring threat for La Celeste. The skillful PSG striker scored six goals in CONMBEOL qualifying, stepping up in the playoff first leg vs. Jordan (watch below).
Diego Lugano, D, West Bromwich Albion: There is no denying Uruguay’s defense struggled, but without their captain and central defender things probably would have been substantially worse. Lugano, who is inching closer to 100 caps, brought his usual aerial dominance and overall defensive quality while chipping in offensively with two goals.
Óscar Washington Tabárez, named head coach of Uruguay in 2006, did such an impressive job during the last World Cup that the Uruguayan FA kept him on for a second term despite the notion that international teams tend to struggle when guided by the same person for more than four years.
The longest-tenured international coach out of the 10 CONMEBOL nations, Tabárez has a laundry list of teams he has managed. The 66-year-old Uruguayan, who was a defender in his playing days, has been at the helm of big clubs like AC Milan and Boca Juniors, to name a couple.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
WCQ record: 7-5-4, 25 pts. / 25 GF, 25 GA (fifth place in South America); 1-0-1 in playoff vs. Jordan / 5 GF, 0 GA
Uruguay may have cruised past Jordan to secure their berth in Brazil, but the Charruas had some serious troubles in CONMEBOL qualifying despite having a very talented roster. They let up as many goals as they scored and lacked consistency throughout the campaign.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
The two-time world champions are headed to their second straight World Cup and third out of the last four editions. If they can piece together the same type of strong performances that they had in South Africa en route to finishing in fourth place in 2010, the Uruguayans are talented enough to be a very dangerous darkhorse in this tournament.
National team midfielder Arévalo Ríos (right), who played at the 2010 World Cup and has captained the charruas, signed with the Chicago Fire this past season as a Designated Player but has since parted ways with the club. … New England Revolution starlet Diego Fagundez was born in the country’s capital, Montevideo. … Uruguay and the US men’s national team have split their all-time series at 2-2-2, with the two teams last playing to a 2-1 win for the Americans in Washington, D.C., in May 2002