In August, then-Toronto president/general manager Kevin Payne announced two years of following Max Urruti had culminated with the 22-year-old's capture. One month later, the former Newell's Old Boys striker is a Portland Timber, traded for a 26-year-old with 1060 career minutes played.

Front office changes left Portland, not Toronto, with offer too good to refuse

2 Comments
source: AP
In August, then-Toronto president/general manager Kevin Payne announced two years of following Max Urruti had culminated with the 22-year-old’s capture. One month later, the former Newell’s Old Boys striker is a Portland Timber, traded for a 26-year-old with 1060 career minutes played.

As Joe noted earlier, Bright Dike is a handful. His lack of playing time (1060 career minutes) keeps a broader audience from knowing: He’s the most physically challenging player in the league. At 6’1″, 220 pounds of speed and muscle, the Nigerian international is a linebacker in a soccer kit. Particularly in an approach like Ryan Nelsen’s, Dike could have some serious value, provided his recovering ACL can log meaningful time soon.

But Dike’s zero minutes played since returning from surgery last year tells you almost all you need to know about today’s trade. Toronto wanted to get rid of Max Urruti – a 22-year-old who, despite the players’ four-year age difference, has scored twice as many professional goals as Dike (12 in Argentina to Dike’s six in MLS). You don’t trade a just-signed prospect you for somebody coming off knee surgery unless you just want him off the books.

“We received an offer from Portland that we could simply not pass on,” Nelsen said, somewhat bizarrely, in a statement sent out by Toronto. Perhaps the could not pass part was receiving an offer at all?

Everything indicates Toronto’s hitting eject on Urruti. Everything indicates it’s Portland, not Toronto, that were given an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Dike is cheap, he has some potential, and Portland (particularly general manager Gavin Wilkinson) likes him a lot. Having significantly invested in him — playing time; a knee surgery; and Achilles’ tendon recovery — they wouldn’t give him away for nothing. Still, there was no vision for the Timbers’ future were he was more than a third-choice striker in Caleb Porter’s system. If what Urruti showed in Argentina is any indication, he could develop into a potential starter.

“Maximiliano is a player we know well, one we feel will be a great fit in our system and scouted extensively prior to him signing with Toronto,” Porter said via a team-distributed statement. “Urruti will complement the depth we have in the striker position, and once he is acclimated and match fit, will bring a dimension to the number nine role that we’ve been looking for.”

And with that, Portland become the latest beneficiary of Toronto FC’s continued chaos. In the wake of Kevin Payne’s dismissal, TFC comes off as too eager to eject one of their former boss’s most notable signings. That they got a decent player making just over $60,000 per season is a bonus.

source: Getty Images
Bright Dike established himself as a Major league Soccer-caliber player last season in Portland, scoring five times in 896 minutes. His physical style will be a strong fit for how Ryan Nelsen likes to play in Toronto.

Their goal here seems to be to cut bait with a player who, in less than a month, has gone from key acquisition to expendable. Perhaps they learned all they need to know about Urruti from 37 MLS minutes and a month’s worth of training sessions, but given Portland were eager to add the 22-year-old Argentine to a crowded roster, Urruti appears to have maintained some fans outside the Toronto organization.

Rather than anything he showed on the field, the more likely explanation is Urruti is the latest, bizarre departure from a chronically aimless team. The direction Toronto had 10 months ago is different from the direction they had last week, which is different from the direction they have today, and will be different from the direction they’ll have under Payne’s successor. The Timbers benefit from the consequences of Toronto’s managerial turnover.

That turnover means players like Luis Silva get lost. Stars like Dwayne De Rosario, in whom so much time and energy are invested, become easy to cast off. And pursued prospects like Max Urruti are left behind when the nameplates change on the door.

As a result, a player who was playing for Newell’s Old Boys as a 20-year-old has been cut loose. Does that mean he’s bound for Major League Soccer success? Or that Toronto’s even made a bad move? Not necessarily. They may truly believe that Dike will be the better player, or he will be good enough to justify the presumed offset in salary. They may think taking on Urruti allowed them to get a cheap, distinct talent, one that was worth the sacrifice of a player they liked so much a month ago.

The fact that this vision is so much different from last month’s is the real story. And given the two players’ history, there’s every reason to think this isn’t about how much TFC likes Dike; rather, it’s a confused organization cutting another a player lose.

As it concerns Urruti, Portland seems more than willing to bet Payne was right.

Skrtel’s agent “90-percent sure” center-back will leave Liverpool

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17:  Martin Skrtel of Liverpool FC points during the international friendly match between Brisbane Roar and Liverpool FC at Suncorp Stadium on July 17, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Martin Skrtel seems to have played his last match at Liverpool as the player’s agent said he is “90-percent sure” that the center-back will move away from Anfield this summer.

Skrtel, who joined Liverpool in 2008, has made more than 300 appearances for the club, the most of any player on the current roster.

[ MORE: Delph to miss EURO 2016 ]

After a strong campaign in 2014-15, Skrtel’s play dropped off quite a bit this year, with the 31-year-old also missing three months with a torn hamstring. He managed just 22 appearances in the Premier League, his lowest total since the 2009-10 season.

Speaking to TV Markiza in Slovakia, Skrtel’s agent Karol Csonto said a move is likely to happen, with Turkish side Besiktas interested in the center-back.

Besiktas is one of those interested in Martin but we’re haven’t reached a point where I can confirm Martin is going there, or anywhere else.

But I can say that it is 90 per cent sure Martin will leave Liverpool, but it is far from closed.

Skrtel fell out of favor at Anfield when Jurgen Klopp took over the side, and the veteran defender never seemed to be in the new manager’s plans. He’s been a constant presence in the Reds’ back-line for years now, and it will be strange sight to see a Liverpool defense without a screaming Skrtel keeping things organized.

Copa America 2016: Final 23-man rosters for each team

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21: Sergio Aguero (L) and Lionel Messi of Argentina react while walking off the field after defeating Iran 1-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the Copa America Centenario kicking off next Friday, the final 23-man rosters for each team are in.

This tournament is littered with talent, with top players from every major league represented. Of course, one massive name missing from this list is Neymar, who will be playing for Brazil in the Olympics rather than at the Copa.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Copa coverage ]

Group A – Full Preview

United States
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood(Hamburg SV), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy),

Colombia
Goalkeepers: Cristian Bonilla (Atletico Nacional), David Ospina (Arsenal), Robinson Zapata (Santa Fe)
Defenders: Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional), Santiago Arias (PSV), Farid Diaz (Atletico Nacional), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Stefan Medina (Pachuca), Jeison Murillo (Inter Milan), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan)
Midfielders: Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Guillermo Celis (Junior), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Sebastian Perez (Atletico Nacional), Andres Felipe Roa (Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Daniel Torres (Independiente Medellin)
Forwards: Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), Roger Martinez (Racing Club), Marlos Moreno (Atletico Nacional), Dayro Moreno (Club Tijuana)

Costa Rica
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor)
Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (West Brom), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umana (Persepolis), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa)
Midfielders: Yeltsen Tejeda (Evian), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Club), Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact), Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps), Joel Campbell (Arsenal)
Forwards: Ariel Rodriguez (Alajuelense), Alvaro Saborio (D.C. United), Marcos Urena (Midtjylland)

Paraguay
Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Colo Colo), Antony Silva (Cerro Porteno), Diego Barreto (Olimpia)
Defenders: Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Gustavo Gomez (Lanus), Pablo Aguilar (America), Fabian Balbuena (Corinthians), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno), Miguel Samudio (America), Blas Riveros (Olimpia)
Midfielders: Oscar Romero (Racing), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo), Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar), Rodrigo Rojas (Cerro Porteno), Robert Piris Da Motta (Olimpia), Miguel Almiron (Lanus)
Forwards: Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga), Nelson Valdez (Seattle Sounders), Edgar Benitez (Queretaro), Derlis Gonzalez (Dynamo Kiev), Jorge Benitez (Cruz Azul), Dario Lezcano (Ingolstadt), Juan Iturbe (Bournemouth)


Group B – Full Preview

Brazil
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Internacional), Diego Alves (Valencia), Ederson (Benfica)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Fabinho (Monaco), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro), Miranda (Inter Milan), Gil (Shandong Luneng), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Elias (Corinthians), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Rafinha (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Lucas Lima (Santos), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Hulk (Zenit), Ricardo Oliveira (Santos), Gabriel (Santos)

Ecuador
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (LDU de Quito), Esteban Dreer (C.S. Emelec), Maximo Banguera (Barcelona SC)
Defenders: Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Gabriel Achilier (C.S. Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Atletico Mineiro), Robert Arboleda (U. Catolica), Walter Ayovi (Monterrey), Cristian Ramirez (Ferencvarosi)
Midfielders: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Angel Mena (C.S. Emelec), Christian Noboa (Rostov), Fernando Gaibor (C.S. Emelec), Pedro Larrea (El Nacional), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Jefferson Montero (Swansea), Michael Arroyo (Club America), Fidel Martinez (Pumas)
Forwards: Enner Valencia (West Ham), Jaime Ayovi (Godoy Cruz), Juan Cazares (Atletico Mineiro), Miller Bolanos (Gremio)

Haiti
Goalkeepers: Steward Ceus (Unattached), Luis Valendi Odelus (Aigle Noir), Johny Placide (Reims)
Defenders: Romain Genevois (Nice), Jerome Mechack (Jacksonville Armada), Judelin Aveska (Atletico Uruguay), Reginal Goreux (Standard Liege), Kim Jaggy (Aarau), Alex Christian (Vila Real), Jean Sony Alcenat (Voluntari), Stephane Lambese (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielder: Jean Marc Alexandre (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), Kevin Lafrance (Chrobry Glogow), Soni Mustivar (Sporting Kansas City), Max Hilaire (Cholet), Pascal Millien (Jacksonville Armada), Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan), James Marcelin (Carolina RailHawks)
Forwards: Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Wisla Krakow), Kervens Belfort (1461 Trabzon), Jeff Louis (Caen), Jean-Eudes Maurice (Ha Noi), Duckens Nazon (Laval)

Peru
Goalkeepers: Carlos Caceda (Universitario), Pedro Gallese (Juan Aurich), Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal)
Defenders: Luis Abram (Sporting Cristal), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Jair Cespedes (Sporting Cristal), Aldo Corzo (Deportivo Municipal), Christian Ramos (Juan Aurich), Alberto Rodriguez (Sporting Cristal), Miguel Trauco (Universitario), Yoshimar Yotun (Malmo)
Midfielders: Armando Alfageme (Deportivo Municipal), Adan Balbin (Universitario), Cristian Benavente (Charleroi), Christian Cueva (Toluca), Luiz da Silva (PSV Eindhoven), Alejandro Hohberg (Universidad Cesar Vallejo), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Oscar Vilchez (Alianza Lima)
Forwards: Edison Flores (Universitario), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo), Andy Polo (Universitario), Raul Ruidiaz (Universitario)


Group C – Full Preview

Mexico
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Malaga), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Paul Aguilar (Club America), Miguel Layun (Porto), Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Diego Reyes (Real Sociedad), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Hector Moreno (PSV), Yasser Corona (Queretaro), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres), Jesus Molina (Santos Laguna)
Midfielders: Jesus Manuel Corona (Porto), Hector Herrera (Porto), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Andres Guardado (PSV), Carlos Pena (Chivas), Jurgen Damm (Tigres), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Duenas (Tigres)
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkeusen), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (Club America)

Jamaica
Goalkeepers: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Duwayne Kerr (Stjarnan), Ryan Thompson (Saint Louis FC)
Defenders: Rosario Harriott (Harbour View FC), Michael Hector (Reading), Kemar Lawrence (New York RB), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Damano Solomon (Portmore United), Jermaine Taylor (Portland Timbers)
Midfielders: Rodolph Austin (Brondby IF), Michael Binns (Portmore United), Chevone Marsh (Cavaler Sports Club), Joel McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Garath McCleary (Reading), Andrew Vanzie (Humble Lion FC), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution), Lee Williamson (Blackburn Rovers)
Forwards: Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City), Allan Ottey (Montego Bay United), Dever Orgill (IFK Marieham)

Uruguay
Goalkeepers: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama)
Defenders: Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Jorge Fucile (Nacional), Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Pereira (Getafe), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Mauricio Victorino (Nacional)
Midfielders: Mathias Corujo (Universidad de Chile), Alvaro Gonzalez (Atlas), Nicolas Lodeiro (Boca Juniors), Gaston Ramirez (Middlesbrough), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Atlas), Cristian Rodriguez (Independiente), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Matias Vecino (Fiorentina)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Diego Rolan (Bordeaux), Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Venezuela
Goalkeepers: Jose Contreras (Deportivo Tachira), Wuilker Farinez (Caracas), Dani Hernandez (Tenerife)
Defenders: Wilker Angel (Deportivo Tachira), Rolf Feltscher (Duisburg), Alexander Gonzalez (Huesca), Roberto Rosales (Malaga), Jose Manuel Velazquez (Arouca), Mikel Villanueva (Malaga), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes)
Midfielders: Juan Pablo Anor (Malaga), Arquimedes Figuera (La Guaira), Alejandro Guerra (Atletico Nacional), Yangel Herrera (Atletico Venezuela), Romulo Otero (Huachipato), Adalberto Penaranda (Granada), Tomas Rincon (Genoa), Carlos Suarez (Carabobo), Luis Manuel Seijas (Internacional)
Forwards: Yonathan Del Valle (Kasimpasa), Josef Martinez (Torino), Salomon Rondon (West Brom), Christian Santos (NEC)


Group D – Full Preview

Argentina
Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes), Nahuel Guzman (UANL), Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
Defenders: Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Ramiro Funes Mori (Argentina), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Victor Cuesta (Independiente)
Midfielders: Matias Kranevitter (Atletico Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain), Augusto Fernandez (Atletico Madrid), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
Forwards: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica)

Chile
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Barcelona), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
Defenders: Mauricio Isla (Marseille), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Universidad Catolica), Gonzalo Jara (Universidad de Chile), Enzo Roco (Espanyol), Gary Medel (Inter), Eugenio Mena (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Jean Beausejour (Colo Colo), Marcelo Diaz (Celta Vigo), Francisco Silva (Chiapas), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Pablo Hernandez (Celta Vigo), Edson Puch (LDU Quito).
Forwards: Nicolas Castillo (Universidad Catolica), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo), Mauricio Pinilla (Atalanta), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Eduardo Vargas (Hoffenheim)

Panama
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Platense), Jaime Penedo (Saprissa), Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco)
Defenders: Felipe Baloy (Atlas), Harold Cummings (Alajuelense), Eric Davis (FC DAC 1904), Fidel Escobar (Sporting San Miguelito), Luis Henriquez (Tauro), Adolfo Machado (Saprissa), Roderick Miller (San Francisco)
Midfielders: Ricardo Buitrago (Juan Aurich), Armando Cooper (Arabe Unido), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Gabriel Gomez (Cartagines), Amilcar Henriquez (America), Valentin Pimental (La Equidad), Alberto Quintero (San Jose Earthquakes)
Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (RNK Split), Ismael Diaz (Porto B), Roberto Nurse (Mineros de Zacatecas), Blas Perez (Vancouver Whitecaps), Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich), Gabriel Torres (Zamora)

Bolivia
Goalkeepers: Carlos Lampe (Sport Boys), Romel Quinonez (Bolivar), Guillermo Viscarra (Oriente Petrolero)
Defenders: Diego Bejarano (The Strongest), Marvin Bejarano (Oriente Petrolero), Nelson Cabrera (Bolivar), Ronald Eguino (Bolivar), Luis Gutierrez (Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona), Erwin Saavedra (Bolivar), Edward Zenteno (Wilstermann)
Midfielders: Pedro Azogue (Oriente Petrolero), Jhasmani Campos (Kazma SC), Raul Castro (The Strongest), Samuel Galindo (Club Petrolero), Cristhian Machado (Wilstermann), Alejandro Melean (Oriente Petrolero), Fernando Saucedo (Wilstermann), Martin Smedberg-Dalence (IFK Goteborg), Walter Veizaga (The Strongest)
Forwards: Juan Carlos Arce (Bolivar), Yasmani Duk (New York Cosmos), Bruno Miranda (Universidad de Chile), Rodrigo Ramallo (The Strongest)

England’s Fabian Delph to miss out on EURO 2016 through injury

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Fabian Delph of Manchester City looks on during the Capital One Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester City and Hull City at Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fabian Delph will not be playing for England at EURO 2016 after picking up a groin injury in training.

Delph did not travel to Sunderland for England’s friendly against Australia on Friday, with manager Roy Hodgson saying he “probably won’t be in the 23 [final roster spots].”

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO coverage ]

Delph’s inclusion in the provisional 30-man roster was met with some criticism, as the Manchester City midfielder managed just eight Premier League starts this season and made only nine appearances off the bench.

This news will now boost the hopes of Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, who are also battling to make the final roster in the center of midfield.

In his press conference on Thursday, Hodgson stated that Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge has not trained with the team yet, as his fitness will be closely monitored leading up to EURO 2016. Hodgson also confirmed that Manchester United’s 18-year-old Marcus Rashford will make his international debut against Australia.

Ranking the Copa America Centenario contenders

Copa America trophy — 2015 Copa America
AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo
1 Comment

Sixteen teams enter next month’s Copa America Centenario tournament, and only one emerges as the champion of North, South and Central America.

Will it be Chile who continues its reign? Will Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay find revenge? Can a CONCACAF side thrive with the tourney in the United States?

[ PREVIEWS: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D ]

There a varying degrees of likelihood that a country rises above the field to win this year’s competition. In this post, we’ll rank the sides from 16 to 1, unlikeliest to likeliest.

16. Haiti — Happy to be there? Circling the Peru match on its calendar.

15. Venezuela — If Salomon Rondon can make things happen, who knows?

14. Bolivia — Lots of work to be done here.

13. Jamaica — Winfried Schaefer’s team has struggled since its strong Gold Cup.

12. Peru — Inexperience will be a problem.

11. Paraguay — Wins have been hard to come by for Los Guaraníes.

10. Panama — Are they primed for a run, or too old to outlast its group opponents?

9. Ecuador — Dangerous but inconsistent, La Tricolor has an easier group from which to advance than most.

8. Costa Rica — If the USMNT falters under the pressure of hosts, Los Ticos will be most likely to benefit in Group A.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

7. United States — Hosting is a big deal, and Jurgen Klinsmann seems ready to take a more orthodox approach to his lineups. The Yanks will run more than a few teams ragged, depending on how the chips fall.

6. Uruguay — Navigating the absence of Luis Suarez, which could last the group stage or longer, knocks them down a peg.

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

5. Mexico — It’s another golden generation for El Tri, and it’s not far-fetched to imagine Mexico makes a run at everything.

4. Colombia — James Rodriguez goes back to being the focal point of an attack, and will remind us just how good he is while under the spotlight.

3. Chile — Repeating is hard, and Chile had a lot of home cooking good fortune in its hosted run to a first title.

2. Brazil — No the side won’t be fully loaded, but Dunga has shown he knows how to run a side with or without Neymar.

  1. Argentina — This could be Lionel Messi’s year to lift hardware for club and country.