CONCACAF veterans stepping up at Copa America Centenario

Blas Perez (red jersey) scored two goals in Panama's Copa America Centenario win over Bolivia on June 6, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)

CHICAGO – A number of CONCACAF veterans are leading the way for their teams at the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

In a span of three days, three players, each at least 33-years-old, scored a winning goal to help secure maximum points from a match.

It started on Sunday with Rafael Marquez’s 85th-minute goal that gave Mexico a 2-1 lead over Uruguay in a Group C match that it would ultimately win 3-1 thanks to Hector Herrera’s stoppage-time header.

The Tricolor captain scored his 16th international goal in 132 international appearances and his first in 17 all-time Copa America outings, snapping Mexico’s winless streak in the competition at seven games.

The trend continued on Monday, when Blas Perez netted a brace to lift Panama past Bolivia, 2-1. With the scored tied at 1-1 in the 87th minute, the 35-year-old striker collected a right-sided cross from Abdiel Arroyo and finished with aplomb to give the Canaleros a win in their first ever Copa America match.

One night later, Clint Dempsey was at his relentless best, boosting the United States to a 4-0 victory over Costa Rica. The 33-year-old attacker – the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup’s top scorer with seven goals -- converted an eighth-minute penalty kick to open the scoring in the Group A encounter, and then followed that up with assists on the next two goals.

The strike was a special one for Dempsey, as it was his 50th international goal in 126 matches. He joined Landon Donovan as the only players to notch 50 goals or more in a U.S. jersey. Dempsey will be looking to add to that on Saturday when the U.S. face Paraguay.

In total, the CONCACAF trio have combined for 342 international matches and 101 goals in those outings, and look as strong as ever to keep going as the Copa America Centenario continues.