There’s excitement afoot: The Copa America Centenario will celebrate 100 years of world-class soccer by bringing the international tournament to the U.S. for the first time ever. The South American national squads will be facing off against countries from North and Central America, giving fans of “the Beautiful Game” plenty to root for at stadiums from coast to coast this June.
Watch the tournament like a true fútbol fanatíco, and take a look at our list of the best soccer players to follow on social media leading up to the tournament – and then get ready for the Final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on June 26.
James Rodriguez, Colombia
— James Rodríguez (@jamesdrodriguez) May 28, 2016
Colombian striker James Rodriguez is one of the fastest rising stars in international soccer. Following his coming out party at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 – where he took home the Golden Boot and led his team to the quarter finals – he’s hoping to have another impressive showing in the Centenario.
Luis Suarez, Uruguay
Trabajando duro para estar pronto cuanto antes 💪💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/HKCyGIEwlf
— Luis Suarez (@LuisSuarez9) May 31, 2016
This goal-scoring maestro was another sensation that made a big splash at the 2014 World Cup, and recently he impressed FC Barcelona fans by scoring 53 goals during the club’s 2015 – 16 season. Now, he’s leading the Uruguayan national team in their attempt to clinch a 16th Copa America championship – that’s right: 16.
Javier Hernández, Mexico
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 29, 2016
Mexico’s soccer pride sits on the shoulders of their national team’s number two all-time scorer, Javier Hernandez. Chicharito is coming in hot after receiving Player of the Year from CONCACAF (the North American continental soccer league), and he’ll definitely show why it was well deserved on this massive international stage.
Willian Borges da Silva, Brazil
— Willian (@willianborges88) June 3, 2016
Star attacking midfielder Willian is hoping to lead Brazil’s prestigious national team to a ninth Copa America victory at the tournament’s centennial edition. Brazilian soccer fans are always excited to cheer on the Green and Yellow, but Willian has them extra pumped after being named the Chelsea F.C. Player of the Year – and he’s hoping to keep his hot streak going against rival teams.
Alexis Sánchez, Chile
With the second most all-time caps of any player on the Chilean team, Alexis Sanchez was a huge part of La Roja’s first Copa America championship last year. The combination forward/winger has scored 31 goals in international play, a total which he intends to add to when he leads his team into this tournament’s centennial celebration.
Lionel Messi, Argentina
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 26, 2016
He is arguably the best striker of all time and a huge reason that FIFA has ranked Argentina number one in the world heading into this tournament. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner has yet to lead his national squad to victory in the Copa America, though, and you can bet that he’s set his sights on making it happen at the historic Centenario.
Clint Dempsey, USA
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 11, 2016
Clint Dempsey is the first American to score in three World Cups, and he’ll be doing the host country proud when he reps the Red, White, and Blue on their home turf at the Copa America. After being the top scorer at last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, he’s ready to whip U.S. fans into a frenzy once again with another stellar performance.
Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica
— Bryan Ruiz González (@bryanruizcr) May 30, 2016
Ruiz helped Costa Rica clinch the Central American Cup in 2014 and now he plans to unleash his left-footed skills on opposing countries at the Copa America. The national team captain is hoping to improve their FIFA ranking by taking down some of the most established teams.
Blas Perez, Panama
— Blas Pérez (@superraton7) May 29, 2016
Striker Blas Perez has been taking the pitch for Panama since 2001, helping him land in the team’s record books as the second all-time in scoring and third all-time in national caps. Fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to catch Super Raton (Mighty Mouse) in the twilight of his career, leading Panama to a strong showing and always gunning for some record-breaking goals.
Antonio Valencia, Ecuador
Este trofeo es para toda mi gente de Ecuador.❤️❤️❤️🇪🇨🇪🇨🇪🇨This trophy is for all my people in Ecuador . pic.twitter.com/zLvcNf6iJs
— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) May 21, 2016
When he’s not lining up for Manchester United in the English Premier League, this two-way playing offensive forward and defensive back is bringing pride to his national team. One of the two CONMEBOL teams that has yet to win the Copa America, Ecuador hopes the defensive mentality that Valencia and team captain Walter Ayovi bring to the pitch helps them clamp down on all-star strikers.