*EDITOR’S NOTE: Credit to MLS Soccer.
Editorial (July 3, 2019) — The popularity of the MLS continues to increase and it is certainly helped when players from the league perform well on the world stage.
While in Europe the competition is still seen as somewhere players go at the end of their career, South Americans are waking up to the fact the MLS is a highly competitive league packed with talented footballers just aching for a chance to show what they can do.
That’s never been more evident than this year’s Copa America, where a host of MLS players have been selected, hoping to make that eye-catching performance that sees them catapulted onto the world stage. Many MLS teams have been represented, including D.C. United, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders.
So with that in mind, we’ve selected four MLS players who have thrived in this year’s competition.
Josef Martinez – Atalanta United
After Venezuela earned an opening day draw with Peru, they left themselves in a great position to qualify for the latter stages. A draw against Brazil in the second group game highlighted the potential for them to progress further.
Atalanta United’s Martinez came off the bench against Brazil and did the same in the final group game against Bolivia. With his side 2-0, the opposition pulled a goal back. Martinez snatched a late third, ensuring his side qualified for the final stages.
Andy Polo – Portland Timbers
Andy Polo, a 24-year-old, is commonly referred to as La Joya, according to the Portland Timbers official website. He’s at the Copa America with Peru, who made the final stages of the competition to face Uruguay.
bwin Football reports that Uruguay were the favorites to beat Peru, but Polo and his teammates had other ideas. Despite losing their final group game against Brazil 5-0, they clung on to a 0-0 draw. Uruguay also went through to the semi-finals on penalties.
Polo came on in the 0-0 draw with Venezuela in their opening fixture and impressed as they brushed Bolivia aside in their second fixture.
— Selección Peruana 🇵🇪 (@SeleccionPeru) June 29, 2019
Jefferson Savarino – Real Salt Lake
The Real Salt Lake star started two of Venezuela’s four matches in the competition, missing the quarter-final defeat against Argentina. He put in a confident display as his side brushed aside Bolivia in the group stages. However, it wasn’t able to get on and effect proceedings against Lionel Messi’s rampant side.
Savarino has seven caps to his name, having progressed from the Under-21 set up to make his full debut in 2017. His only international goal came in a 3-0 friendly win against the United States in May.
Raúl Ruidíaz – Seattle Sounders
Raúl Ruidíaz has been in excellent form for the Sounders, scoring six times in 10 matches, including the opener in a 2-1 win against Orlando City in May.
However, he hasn’t been able to transfer that form to the international scene. Ruidíaz started all four of Peru’s matches as a substitute. He did get on the field when his side faced Uruguay to great effect.
When called upon, he wasn’t left wanting despite the lack of starts. Ruidiaz bagged one of the penalties as his side beat Luis Suarez’s team to set up a semi-final encounter with Argentina.