Ranking the Copa America Goalkeepers

cover photo belongs to REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

The Copa America kicks off this weekend and you still don't know which goalkeepers are the best ones in the tournament. You're sweating bullets as your friend's watch party draws near. How will you answer the bombardment of goalkeeper-based questions? Who is Justo Villar and where is Keylor Navas? Save this page on your phone for a quick cheat sheet of which goalkeepers to keep an eye out for this tournament. The top eight feature a quick run through of the top talents while the bottom eight are relegated to a simple blurb here and there. Tune in next century for the second Copa America Centenario ranking list.

 

1. Chile

1. Claudio Bravo, 33
(Barcelona / Spain.1)
2. Cristopher Toselli, 27
(Universidad Católica / Chile.1)
3. Johnny Herrera, 35
(Universidad de Chile / Chile.1)

It's not really a surprise when the starter for Barcelona (a good club in Spain) is the best goalkeeper in a regional tournament. Notching 32 starts for his club, Bravo sets a high standard that no one else really comes that close to. I'd say ESPN undersold him a little bit by only putting him at 21st in their top players in the tournament list. (To be fair, they listed Bravo only behind Costa Rica's goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, who was not named in the final squad.) Bravo is good enough that he could win goalkeeper of the tournament despite not being on the winning side, although Chile are looking to retain their title they won last year.

 

2. Uruguay

 Muslera prepares himself to punt the ball very far

Muslera prepares himself to punt the ball very far

1. Fernando Muslera, 29
(Galatasaray / Turkey.1)
2. Martin Campana, 33
(Vasco da Gama / Brazil.1)
3. Martin Silva, 27
(Independiente / Argentina.1)

Following Galatasaray's sixth place finish in league play, Muslera is looking for some redemption and Uruguay is the right team for the job. With arguably the easiest group in the tournament and starting for a nation that has a history of winning the tournament (oh just fifteen times, the most ever), Muslera is in a great position to find himself in the final. While the backups don't provide a ton of depth for Uruguay, the bigger issue will be getting the attack to fire on all cylinders, after scoring on two goals in four games in last year's tournament.

 

3. Argentina

 Romero practices his levitating skills at halftime

Romero practices his levitating skills at halftime

1. Sergio Romero, 29
(Manchester United / England.1)
2. Nahuel Guzmán, 30
(UANL / Mexico.1)
3. Mariano Andújar, 32
(Estudiantes / Argentina.1)

Just two years ago Sergio Romero and Argentina were battling Germany in the World Cup final. Now they are facing the giants of Chile! Panama! Bolivia! Okay maybe not the same powerhouse match ups as the World Cup final but the ManU backup will at least get some warmup games before the knockout stage kicks in. With Argentina the odds on favorite to win, Romero could find some gold plated gloves to... well I don't know exactly what you do with gold plated gloves. Hang them up? He might want to figure that out, actually.

 

4. Brazil

 photo belongs to Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

photo belongs to Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

1. Alisson, 24
(Roma / Italy.1)
2. Diego Alves, 30
(Valencia / Spain.1)
3. Marcelo Grohe, 29
(Grêmio / Brazil.1)

Brazil has historically struggled to match their flare up top with a goalkeeper of the same caliber and this year is no different. The three goalkeepers share a total of 16 caps between them and while Alisson has been given the number one spot, he still brings along the typical problems a twenty-three year old goalkeeper has: trying to do too much and lacking the calm composure you'd want from a veteran player. Still, he has the tools to succeed and, age aside, is in a somewhat similar position as Iker Casillas was in 2014: we know he can play but don't know how he will play. We could just as easily see a monster reflex save to seal the game or a soft goal to the blues of everyone.

 

5. Colombia

1. David Ospina, 27
(Arsenal, England.1)
2. Róbinson Zapata, 37
(Santa Fe / Colombia.1)
3. Cristian Bonilla, 23
(Atlético Nacional / Colombia.1)

Just because you're a backup doesn't mean you level of play has dipped. Yes, Ospina hasn't received a bulk of the starts at Arsenal, but you don't get to that high point in your career without maintaining yourself regardless of playing time. Ospina isn't going to be making the top ninety saves (although he does make a fantastic save at 0:35) but he will provide the calmness that Colombia will need if they're expecting to leave a tough group and face likely Brazil (oh no) or Ecuador (yes please) next round.

 

6. Mexico

 Photo belongs to Mexsport. Only one shoe belongs to Corona. He lost the other one on the way to the game.

Photo belongs to Mexsport. Only one shoe belongs to Corona. He lost the other one on the way to the game.

1. José de Jesús Corona, 35
(Cruz Azul / Mexico.1)
2. Alfredo Talavera, 33
(Toluca / Mexico.1)
3. Guillermo Ochoa, 30
(Málaga / Spain.1)

CONCACAF finally gets on the board with a nation whose goalkeepers would almost combine to be the same age as the tournament itself. Despite not being the oldest starter (see Paraguay), Corona has actually returned to the scene just a little over a year ago. The agile elder sat the 2014 World Cup but is now in a position to turn some heads and hopefully lead Mexico to a better performance than year's Copa America run, which ended with them bottoming out in the group and a 11th place finish in the twelve team tournament.

 

7. USA

Brad Guzan and Oribe Peralta discuss fiscal policy during the 2015 CONCACAF Cup.

1. Brad Guzan, 31
(Aston Villa / England.1)
2. Tim Howard, 37
(Colorado Rapids / USA.1)
3. Ethan Horvath, 20
(Molde / Norway.1)

It's somewhat of a low point for the country that has enjoyed great goalkeeping for the past two decades. It's bad enough that Guzan is coming off a less than impressive year with relegated Aston Villa, where he was actually their player of the year just a few years earlier, but the Americans are probably going to need some extraordinary performances from Guzan to simply leave the group. Guzan has a great platform to have a praiseworthy tournament and the free agent could certainly use a boost to his player stock.

 

8. Paraguay

 This is Justo Villar, the goalkeeper of the Paraguay National Team, and he has DirecTV

This is Justo Villar, the goalkeeper of the Paraguay National Team, and he has DirecTV

1. Justo Villar, 38
(Colo-Colo / Chile.1)
2. Antony Silva, 32
(Cerro Porteño / Paraguay.1)
3. Diego Barreto, 34
(Olimpia / Paraguay.1)

If you thought Mexico's goalkeepers were old then you will probably think this core is also old. Villar was on scene for the 2-2 draw against Brazil in March for a World Cup Qualifier earlier this year and they're looking to not lose yet again. Villar is incredibly mobile for his age but has a flair for the theatrics. Paraguay managed to sneak past Brazil last Copa America and then lose 6-1 to Argentina in the next match. It's hard to say what to expect from Paraguay or Villar but looking at the rest of the countries we haven't covered, they defaulted into eighth place. If Villar doesn't overplay his hand, there's a good chance they'll find themselves sneaking out of the stacked group.

 

Best of the Rest

9. Ecuador

1. Alexander Domínguez, 28
(LDU Quito / Ecuador.1)
2. Máximo Banguera, 30
(Barcelona / Ecuador.1)
3. Esteban Dreer, 34
(Emelec / Ecuador.1)

Domínguez started in the 2014 World Cup with Ecuador so facing Peru and Haiti should really throw him for a curveball.
 

10. Costa Rica

1. Patrick Pemberton, 34
(Alajuelense / Costa Rica.1)
2. Leonel Moreira, 26
(Herediano / Costa Rica.1)
3. Danny Carvajal, 27
(Saprissa / Costa Rica.1)

If Navas didn't drop out he'd push Costa Rica to the top five. I wouldn't say this ruins their chances of escaping the group but I wouldn't say it's extremely helpful either.
 

11. Jamaica

1. Andre Blake, 25
(Philadelphia Union / USA.1)
2. Duwayne Kerr, 29
(Sarpsborg / Norway.1)
3. Ryan Thompson, 31
(Saint Louis FC / USA.3)

Andre Blake is the only goalkeeper in the tournament to play a game in MLS this season, in case you were wondering the pedigree of the current MLS goalkeeper pool.
 

12. Venezuela

1. José Contreras, 21
(Deportivo Táchira / Venezuela.1)
2. Dani Hernández, 30
(Tenerife / Spain.2)
3. Wuilker Faríñez, 18
(Caracas / Venezuela.1)

It looks like Venezuela are running with the youngster (who received his first caps this year) and not Hernández (20 caps). Bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it plays off for them.
 

13. Peru

1. Pedro Gallese, 26
(Juan Aurich / Peru.1)
2. Diego Penny, 32
(Sporting Cristal / Peru.1)
3. Carlos Cáceda, 24
(Universitario / Peru.1)

Here's an article about how Gallese will be important in their match against Haiti if they're looking to leave the tournament with more than zero points.
 

14. Panama

1. Jaime Penedo, 34
(Saprissa / Costa Rica.1)
2. Álex Rodríguez, 25
(San Francisco / Panama.1)
3. José Calderón
(Platense / Honduras.1)

Fun fact: Penedo is one of four goalkeepers in this tournament that used to play in MLS and backup Rodríguez used to play for the New York Yankees before quitting to join Panama.
 

15. Haiti

1. Johnny Placide, 27
(Reims / France.2)
2. Steward Ceus
(Minnesota United / USA.2)
3. Luis Valendi Odelus
(Aigle Noir / Haiti.1)

Placide's claim to fame is being scored on by Ibrahimovic.
 

16. Bolivia

1. Carlos Lampe, 29
(Sport Boys / Bolivia.1)
2. Romel Quiñónez, 23
(Bolívar / Bolivia.1)
3. Guillermo Vizcarra, 23
(Oriente Petrolero / Bolivia.1)

Pass