Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez lead way in Copa America Best XI
The Copa America Centenario is done and dusted, with Chile claiming their second major trophy in as many years, a 4-2 victory on penalties over Argentina. There were a number of stalwart performances from players throughout the tournament, yet only a select number made the ESPN FC Copa America Best XI.
GK David Ospina, Colombia -- Arguably the toughest decision of them all. Ospina had a very good tournament from start to finish for Colombia, including a massive save to deny Peru a late winner in the quarterfinals and a fingertip save to deny a Clint Dempsey free kick in the third-place game. His consistency gives him a very slight edge over Claudio Bravo. The Barcelona No. 1 struggled in the group stage but was impeccable in the knockout rounds. For the overall body of work, though, Ospina deserves the slightest of nods.
DF Jean Beausejour, Chile -- An unsung member of Chile's golden era. Beausejour was seemingly everywhere for La Roja, either pushing up high or swarming the opponent's danger men, especially in Sunday's final versus Argentina.
DF Gary Medel, Chile -- Medel was solid in the group stage, but it almost seemed like he flicked a switch starting in the quarterfinal against Mexico. Chile's "Pitbull" stifled the El Tri attack, and he carried that hunger all the way to the title, almost splitting himself in half on the post while trying to clear Gonzalo Higuain's first-half shot in the final.
DF John Brooks, United States-- By far the best performer for the U.S. during this Copa. Brooks delivered a massive performance against Paraguay in the final group game and kept the U.S. steady in the nervy last moments of the quarterfinal win versus Ecuador. An anchor.
DF Gabriel Mercado, Argentina -- The River Plate right back was steady throughout the Copa and a big reason why La Albiceleste allowed just three goals during the entire tournament. Was positive when going forward, as well, offering support to Argentina's right flank.
MF Daniel Torres, Colombia -- A name that was hardly mentioned but a player who delivered strong performances in defensive midfield for Colombia. Torres has grown into a leadership role for Colombia, as was evident during this Copa. Indispensable. Europe beckons for the Independiente Medellin man.
MF Ever Banega, Argentina -- "He makes everything easier," said Lionel Messi about midfielder Banega, whose ability to work and create in small spaces was a large reason why Argentina cruised to the final.
MF James Rodriguez, Colombia -- Rodriguez was stellar in the group stage with two goals and helped Colombia survive Peru's stiff quarterfinal challenge before falling to Chile in the semifinals. Nevertheless, the Real Madrid man, enjoying the space afforded to him by the U.S., was back to his dangerous best in the third-place game. A tournament that will surely restore his confidence.
FW Alexis Sanchez, Chile -- Sanchez did much of the heavy lifting for Chile in the group stage, including scoring two golazos against Panama. He followed that up by spearheading Chile's domination of Mexico and Colombia in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Ran until he nearly dropped in the final.
FW Eduardo Vargas, Chile -- Sensational in the 7-0 rout against Mexico in the quarterfinals with four goals and an absolute workhorse against Argentina in the final. Makes life difficult for any defense that is trying to play out of the back.
FW Lionel Messi, Argentina -- Mostly injured during the group stage, he still managed a hat trick against Panama and then really turned things on in the knockout rounds. Scored a goal in both the quarterfinals and semifinals and set the table for the rest of the Argentina attack in 4-1 and 4-0 routs over Venezuela and the U.S. Once again, though, he was limited by Chile's suffocating defense, leaving the Barcelona man teary-eyed and talking of international retirement. Still, another excellent tournament for La Pulga.
Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .