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American Exports: Could Santos Laguna youngsters Benji Joya and Daniel Cuevas be destined for MLS?

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Santos Laguna youngsters and United States Under-20 national team stars Benji Joya and Daniel Cuevas have been the subject of interest from MLS clubs – including the San Jose Earthquakes, the team closest to their hometowns, according to Guerreros coach Pedro Caixinha.

But despite the interest, Santos are biding their time on whether they will let the Northern Californian duo go. Caixinha told MLSsoccer.com that San Jose assistant coach Nick Dasovic came calling on the two 20-year-olds, as did several other MLS clubs.

“Let’s finish the [Apertura] tournament and we’ll see what their needs are and what our squad needs,” Caixinha said on Tuesday. “After that we’ll make a decision.”

San Jose Earthquakes officials declined to comment on what they termed a "rumor."

Joya (a midfielder from San Jose) and Cuevas (a Sacramento-born forward) garnered considerable interest after their performances at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla earlier this year, but since then haven’t got the minutes with Santos Laguna that many in US soccer circles had hoped.

Caixinha said loaning out the duo next season is a “possibility.” He added that they likely would have received more playing time this Apertura season if they returned fully fit from the U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

“I can tell you that after they arrived after the World Cup, they both arrived with injuries,” the Portuguese coach said. “We tried to get them to play in the Copa MX, but they were injured, so they couldn’t get the expected minutes in that competition.”

Joya has made two substitute appearances in this season’s Copa MX, but Cuevas is yet to make his full professional debut.

On a more positive note, both have started the last two games for Santos’ U-20s.

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