Which MLS players shone the best at the Copa America?

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Which MLS players shone the best at the Copa America?

Now that the 17 MLS players involved in Copa America have completed their group stage duties, let’s see how everyone fared and delve into what’s next for the 10 guys hanging out for knockout fights.

Injuries, illness and coaching decisions caused several MLS representatives to see only a limited task or not attend at all. Nevertheless, a handful improved their international profile with notable forays into the South American tournament, which kicks off Friday’s quarterfinals.

The young right-back unexpectedly saw the field in all four Copa America games, including a left-back start in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Peru that ended Venezuela’s run in Group B. A game earlier, Hernandez got off the bench late to nod home the equalizer in stoppage time La Vinotinto a 2-2 draw against Ecuador. He’s back in now Atlanta resume club training.

ATL_Josef_Martinez_HEA

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut a small part of the Venezuelan squad just before the tournament started. Martinez was one of those who contracted the virus, which prevented him from even dressing for a single match. The good news is that the Five Stripes’ top gun has been recovered and has been cleared to resume training with the club on Monday.

CHI_Gaston_Giménez

The Fire midfielder made two tournament appearances for Paraguay, which finished third in Group A. Gimenez made a late cameo in the 2-0 win over Chile that sealed their progress to the knockouts, then worked a 74-minute shift in their group stage-surpassing 1-0 defeat to Uruguay. Next for Los Guaranies is Friday’s quarterfinal game against Peru.

DC_Junior_Moreno

It was a very disappointing tournament for Venezuela, but Moreno performed reasonably well while playing all but nine minutes of their four games. He was one of the few players to receive praise from pundits and fans at home.

Moreno led the team in several passing categories, finishing the group stage at the top of the tournament recovery chart with 44. The DC United midfielder also made the pass for the pass that led to Venezuela’s opener in their 2-2 draw with Ecuador. He is now back with the Black-and-Red and should be available for action in Week 11.

LAFC_Diego_Palacios

The young left-back only got dressed during Ecuador’s third tournament game, but then got a start on the wing in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Brazil. Palacios put in a decent 71 minutes as Ecuador secured their place in the last eight. They will now look to take on fellow tournament favourites, Argentina, in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

BrianRodriguez1-480.png

unlike his LAFC teammate, Rodriguez did not appear during the group stage, despite dressing for two matches. He now hopes to see action for Uruguay against quarter-final enemy Colombia.

NSH_Jhonder_Cadiz

The power forward was one of Venezuela’s players who took down the COVID-19 after arriving in Brazil. Cadiz recovered in time to dress for the team’s final group match, but returned to Nashville without playing even one minute in the tournament.

NYC_Alex_Callens

After seeing Peru’s tournament-opening 4-0 loss to Brazil, the NYCFC centre-back jumped into the lineup for their last three Group B games. Callens pitched with largely useful efforts in the 2-1 win over Colombia and a 2-2 draw with Ecuador. In their group poet, a 1-0 victory over Venezuela, he left around the half hour with a muscle injury.

Although the team’s medical staff initially feared Callens would suffer a tear that would end his tournament, scan results were negative and he was soon cleared to return to training for Friday’s quarter-final meeting with Paraguay. Heading into the knockout rounds, he ranks 10th out of all tournament entrants with 6.96 clearances per 90 minutes.

RBNY_Cristian_Casseres

Like Moreno, the red bulls youngster started all four of Venezuela’s games. And like Moreno, he received credit for his individual performance, while the team as a whole dropped out of the tournament. Partly because he excelled on corner kicks, Casseres Jr. led the team with five key passes. Now the midfielder is back for a busy RBNY trajectory.

PHI_Jose_Martinez

Not to sound like a broken record, but the Philadelphia midfielder was another Venezuelan player who escaped criticism for his performances during the team’s Group B failure. He even made the tournament team of the round after their third game, in which he provided an assist with a pinpoint cross on their first of two tying goals in a 2-2 draw with Ecuador.

And as was the case with Casseres Jr., Martinez was played wide out of position. Despite the shift in role, he still led the team with 10 tackles (good for eighth in the tournament book after the group stage) and finished second to Moreno in recovery with 31. El Brujo coming back soon, Union fans.

ORL_Pedro_Gallese

The Orlando City netminder is one of the best MLS-based artists in the tournament so far. Galles ranks third on the tournament charts in both saves (15) and xG goals allowed (+0.8), and is one of four Copa America goalkeepers to avoid two wins during the group stage. Peru’s reward now is a quarterfinal game against Paraguay on Friday.

ORL_Jhegson_Sebastian_Mendez

Orlando’s midfield engine started all four group stage matches and stood out among several disappointing teammates as Ecuador squeaked into the knockouts on the final day. Mendez currently ranks in the top 10 tournament charts, including hitting completion percentage (92.2), passes completed in the last third (21), tackles (11) and recoveries (33). He is expected to keep his line-up for Saturday’s mission against quarter-final foe Argentina unlikely.

POR_Chara, Yimmi

The Portland winger dressed for three group stage matches, but only saw action in one. Chara worked the last 20 minutes of Colombia’s 2-1 loss to Peru. After finishing third in Group B, Los Cafeteros are scheduled to face Uruguay on Saturday with a semi-final spot on the line.

POR_Mora, Felipe

The Portland Timbers striker remained a spectator on the bench for all four of Chile’s group stage matches. mora will get another chance to make their Copa America debut when they take on holder/host Brazil in Friday’s quarter-final.

SJ_Marcos_Lopez_HEA

The left-back started Peru’s first two group games, but sat out the last two with a minor groin problem. Lopez significantly outperformed most of his teammates in a rough 4-0 loss to Brazil, but was one of the culprits on the opener. The Earthquakes in San Jose defender then played a part in Peru’s icebreaker in their 2-1 win over Colombia. He is now back in training and should be available for Friday’s quarter-final game against Paraguay.

Sea_Xavier_Arreaga

The Seattle SoundersCentral defender qualified for three of Ecuador’s four group stage matches, but hasn’t seen any tournament playtime yet. Arreaga will get another shot at some action when they face Argentina on Saturday for a place in the final four.

TOR_Yeferson_Soteldo_HEA

A small knock held the FC Toronto winger from appearance until Venezuela’s final group match, an ominous 1-0 defeat to Peru. Soteldo showed up for the last 21 minutes and got some applause for a handy no-look pass. He is now back with the Reds and is expected to be available for their weekend visit to DC United.

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