Voices: Greg Seltzer

Euro 2020: Four MLS players to watch as the tournament kicks off

The 16th European Championship is set to begin on Friday, and there will be several MLS players in uniform when the continental tournament gets underway.

An active MLS player is yet to raise the trophy in celebration, and that's not likely to change at Euro 2020 with all seven league reps on underdog sides.

Still, it's an event that routinely comes packed with big surprises and there's no telling who might get up to some heroics when the heat is on across the pond. Which MLS ambassadors could be in the best position to conjure some Euro-magic? We have a handful of ideas.

In addition to the players listed below, Poland's Przemyslaw Frankowski (Chicago Fire FC) and the Finland duo of Lassi Lappalainen (CF Montréal) and Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United FC) will also be representing MLS in the tournament.

Robin Lod
Midfielder · Finland

It can be dangerous to underestimate a team making its debut at a major international tournament — remember all the trouble caused by Iceland and Wales at Euro 2016? Group B foes Belgium, Denmark and Russia should be wary of the threat Finland poses. Provided that top gun Teemu Pukki is fully fit, Lod will be counted on as one of the main sources of chance creation for the veteran striker (as seen below).

The hard-nosed Minnesota United ace is quite arguably playing the best soccer of his career these days, having notched 11 goals and six helpers in his last 28 Loons outings. Lod was central to Finland's qualification run, and now is expected to start on the right side when they open June 12 in Copenhagen.

MLS observers will need no introduction phase with Minnesota United's traffic director. The veteran central midfielder joined the Loons prior to the 2019 season, and his play has been integral to their first Audi MLS Cup Playoff berths and first US Open Cup final appearance.

Gregus only worked one half during Slovakia's Round of 16 run in their Euros debut five years ago, but he should be more involved this time around. Team leaders Marek Hamsik and Juraj Kucka also play in the engine room, but at age 33 and 34, respectively, will need some relief during the usual tournament fixture crunch. That means, whether Gregus starts or comes off the bench, he seems poised for some action in Group E games against Poland, Spain and Sweden.

With RB Leipzig starlet Dominik Szoboslai and Zsolt Kalmer missing the tournament due to injuries, Daniel Gazdag will likely be thrust into the main playmaking role for Hungary. If they stand any chance of advancing from a group of death that will pit them against France, Germany and defending champs Portugal, they'll need the new Philadelphia Union midfielder’s silky ball skills to tee up former Chicago Fire man Nemanja Nikolic and Adam Szalai for some simple finishes.

It would also probably be wise for the giants of Group F to not sleep on Szabolcs Schon. The wily 20-year-old left winger was among the best players in Hungary this past season before signing for FC Dallas in April. He's precisely the fast, slippery type of player that could wreak havoc on tiring defenders.