Edinson Cavani came into this match with zero career Copa America goals and the weight of his country on his shoulders. With Luis Suarez out due to a hamstring injury, Uruguay needed Cavani.
90 minutes later, Edinson Cavani exited Lincoln Financial Field without a Copa America goal, and Uruguay is likely going home after the group stage. A 39th-minute goal from Salomon Rondon gave Venezuela the win, but Cavani was the story, given so many chances to bring Uruguay level but unable to do so.
Venezuela looked bright early but suffered a blow as Roberto Rosales had to come off injured. He initially came back on, but was forced back off on the 15 minute mark, replaced by Alexander Gonzalez.
The game went back and forth and featured a physical nature of play with heavy fouling by both parties. Cavani struggled mightily throughout the first half. He completely whiffed on a wide-open shot attempt near the penalty spot, and his wayward pass just before the half-hour mark cut short a solid counter-attacking opportunity. He whiffed yet again just minutes later on a free-kick that just evaded his foot at the far post.
With Uruguay misfiring in front of net, Venezuela scored a goal from the heavens. An absolutely mind-blowing attempt from Alejandro Guerra down the right flank just past the mid-line saw Fernando Muslera just able to tip it off the crossbar. The rebound came back out to West Brom striker Salomon Rondon, who poked it home easily past a flailing Muslera.
While Cavani continued to struggle, Muslera came up big after halftime with the game past the hour mark to keep Uruguay 1-down. With Cavani going down softly in the box and nothing called, Venezuela countered. Adalberto Penaranda broke free one-on-one with Muslera, but his shot was smothered expertly by the Uruguayan keeper.
Uruguay poured men forward, and in the 90th minute they had their chance. After hard work by Diego Godin and Nicolas Lodiero, the ball fell to Cavani who burst forward towards the penalty spot. With the goal gaping, he ripped a shot wide of the post.
Cavani had yet another opportunity in added time, but the ball trickled just out of reach of his left foot and into the gut of goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez. With the final whistle, Venezuela went atop Group C with six points and all but guaranteed themselves a spot in the knockout round. Meanwhile, a win or draw for Mexico over Jamaica in the late game would mean Uruguay is officially out of the Copa America.