Voices: Greg Seltzer

Which MLS players have shined brightest at the Copa America?

Now that the 17 MLS players involved in Copa America have completed group-stage duties, let’s sort through how everyone fared and delve into what's next for the 10 guys sticking around for knockout battles.

Injuries, illness and coaching decisions meant that several MLS representatives only saw limited duty or didn't feature at all. Nevertheless, a handful lifted their international profile with noteworthy outings at the South American tournament, which kicks off its quarterfinal round on Friday.

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

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut a small swath through Venezuela's squad just before the tournament kicked off. Martinez was among those that caught the virus, leaving him unable to even dress for a single game. The good news is the Five Stripes' top gun has recovered and was cleared to resume training with the club on Monday.

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

It was a heavily disappointing tournament for Venezuela, but Moreno performed reasonably well while playing all but nine minutes of their four matches. He was one of the few players to draw kudos from pundits and fans back home.

Moreno led the team in several passing categories and finished the group phase tops on the tournament recoveries chart with 44. The D.C. United midfielder also made the pass before the pass that led to Venezuela's opener in their 2-2 draw with Ecuador. He's now back with the Black-and-Red and should be available for Week 11 action.

The young left back did not dress until Ecuador's third tourney contest, but then got a start up on the wing in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Brazil. Palacios put in a decent 71 minutes as Ecuador clinched their place in the final eight. They'll now try to tackle tournament co-favorites Argentina in Saturday's quarterfinal tilt.

Unlike his LAFC teammate, Rodriguez didn’t feature during the group stage despite dressing for two games. He'll now hope to see action for Uruguay against quarterfinal foe Colombia.

The power forward was among Venezuela's players that came down the COVID-19 after arriving in Brazil. Cadiz recovered in time to dress for the team's last group match, but returned to Nashville without playing a single minute in the tournament.

After watching Peru's tourney-opening 4-0 loss to Brazil, the NYCFC center back jumped into the lineup for their last three Group B games. Callens pitched in with largely serviceable efforts in the 2-1 win over Colombia and a 2-2 draw with Ecuador. In their group closer, a 1-0 win over Venezuela, he departed near the half-hour mark with a muscle injury.

Though the team's medical staff initially feared that Callens suffered a tear that would end his tournament, scan results came back negative and he was quickly cleared to rejoin training ahead of Friday's quarterfinal meeting with Paraguay. Heading into the knockout rounds, he stands 10th among all tournament participants with 6.96 clearances per 90 minutes.

Like Moreno, the Red Bulls youngster started all four of Venezuela's matches. And like Moreno, he drew praise for his individual performance while the team as a whole floundered out of the tournament. In part because he shined on corner kicks, Casseres Jr. led the team with five key passes. Now, the midfielder is back for a busy RBNY stretch.

Not to sound like a broken record, but the Philadelphia midfielder was another Venezuelan player who escaped criticism for his showings during the team's Group B failure. He even made the tournament team of the round after their third match, which saw him notch an assist with a pinpoint cross on their first of two equalizers in a 2-2 draw with Ecuador.

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

The Orlando City netminder has been among the top MLS-based performers in the tournament so far. Gallese stands third on the tournament charts in both saves (15) and xG-goals allowed (+0.8), and is one of the four Copa America goalkeepers to have backstopped two wins during the group phase. Now, Peru’s reward is a quarterfinal clash with Paraguay on Friday.

Orlando's midfield engine started all four group-stage matches, and stood out among several underwhelming teammates as Ecuador squeaked into the knockouts on closing day. Mendez currently ranks in the top 10 of tourney charts, including passing completion percentage (92.2), passes completed into the final third (21), tackles (11) and recoveries (33). He's expected to keep his lineup place for Saturday's mission improbable against quarterfinal foe Argentina.

The Portland winger dressed for three group-stage matches, but only saw action in one. Chara worked the final 20 minutes of Colombia's 2-1 loss to Peru. After finishing third in Group B, Los Cafeteros are slated to square off against Uruguay on Saturday with a semifinal place on the line.

The Portland Timbers striker remained a bench spectator for all four of Chile's group-stage games. Mora will get another chance to make his Copa America debut when they come up against holders/host side Brazil in Friday's quarterfinal tilt.

The left back started Peru’s first two group matches, though sat out the last two with a minor groin ailment. Lopez fared considerably better than most of his teammates in a rough 4-0 loss to Brazil, but was among the culpable on the opener. The San Jose Earthquakes defender then played a part in Peru's ice-breaker in their 2-1 victory over Colombia. He’s now returned to training and should be available for Friday's quarterfinal duel with Paraguay.

The Seattle Sounders' center back suited up for three of Ecuador's four group-stage games, but has yet to see any tournament playing time. Arreaga will get another chance at some action when they face Argentina for a place in the final four on Saturday.

A minor knock kept the Toronto FC winger from appearing until Venezuela's final group game, a dooming 1-0 defeat against Peru. Soteldo came on for the final 21 minutes and drew some plaudits for a nifty no-look pass. He's now back with the Reds and is expected to be available for their weekend visit to D.C. United.