American Exports: MLS clubs may face competition for Santos Laguna youths Benji Joya, Daniel Cuevas

US U-20s Daniel Cuevas and Benji Joya

Photo Credit: 
MexSport

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Interest in former US Under-20 national team players Dani Cuevas and Benji Joya is heating up, MLSsoccer.com has learned, with the duo garnering admirers from clubs north and south of the border.

The duo’s agent, Maximiliano Roditis, told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday that the Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes and Chivas USA have all made inquiries about the Santos Laguna players, but added that there is also competition from elsewhere.

Puebla coach Rubén Omar Romano has also been in touch, according to Roditis, and is keen on bringing in midfielder Joya (top right) next season, while a “team in Denmark” and Mexican second-division side Lobos BUAP have shown interest in forward Cuevas (top left).

San Jose declined to comment on interest in either player when contacted by MLSsoccer.com on Thursday, while Chicago said they have not been in contact with Roditis. Chivas USA and Philadelphia have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Neither player would necessarily have his choice of destination should they opt to sign with Major League Soccer, however. The US youth internationals would be eligible for January's SuperDraft, according to the MLS player personnel department or, if they signed with the league after January 16, would enter a weighted lottery.

Cuevas and Joya, both 20, have found opportunities in Santos’ first team limited this year, with them missing a significant amount of time with their club side due to their commitment to Tab Ramos' US U-20 side.

San Jose, Calif., native Joya hasn’t appeared in Liga MX play since last October, while Sacramento native Cuevas has yet to make his full professional debut, despite both impressing in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and the FIFA U-20 World Cup this past summer in Turkey.

Santos coach Pedro Caixinha told MLSsoccer.com last month that Cuevas and Joya came back injured from the World Cup, which hampered their chances of first-team action, but stressed that any decision over their future would have to wait until the end of the Apertura playoffs, in which Los Guerreros are expected to make a deep run.

Roditis, however, says a decision on Cuevas' and Joya’s future will be made in the “near future.”

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.