As the September international window wraps up, plenty of MLS players were in action around the world. Here’s a look at some notables and positive strides for those involved:
Hitting a groove
As the New York Red Bulls look to solidify their place in the Eastern Conference playoff push, good news has come via the Paraguay men’s national team. That’s where Kaku had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s 4-2 friendly win over Jordan.
After dropping a 2-0 friendly to Japan last Thursday that Kaku did not feature in, La Albirroja got back on the right track thanks to the Red Bulls playmaker and former Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron. Kaku now has four appearances for the La Albirroja, having switched over after playing for Argentina’s U-20 team.
He’ll return to the Red Bulls for their next match on Sept. 15 (6 pm ET | TV & streaming info) at the Seattle Sounders. They’ll have experienced 15 days off between matches, with Kaku going the full 90 minutes in seven of their last nine games.
While the Vancouver Whitecaps are one of two squads eliminated from the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, the building blocks continue for midfielder Inbeom Hwang.
He went the full 90 minutes in Tuesday’s 2-0 win for South Korea over Turkmenistan in a second-round World Cup qualifier. That’s right, qualifying matches have already begun for Asian Football Confederation teams.
During the October window, South Korea will face Sri Lanka and North Korea as part of Group H. Hwang, a Designated Player, will look to close out his Vancouver season on a high note and carry momentum into those matches.
Eastern Conference foes meet in Europe
New York City FC went 1-0-1 against the Chicago Fire during the 2019 MLS regular season, though Aleksandar Katai reversed those fortunes Tuesday against a conference foe.
That’s when Chicago winger Katai started and went 45 minutes during Serbia’s 3-1 Euro qualifying win over NYCFC center back Maxime Chanot’s Luxembourg. Chanot went 90 minutes in the Group H encounter, with Portugal, Ukraine and Lithuania rounding our their group.
Chanot stuck around last weekend for NYCFC’s 2-1 win over the New England Revolution that saw them move atop the Eastern Conference standings, causing him to miss out on Luxembourg’s friendly vs. Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Katai and Serbia made amends for a 4-2 loss to Portugal last Saturday.
More Rusnak, more party
Albert Rusnak continues to carve out a vital role for Slovakia’s men’s national team, as the Real Salt Lake Designated Player went 90 minutes in a 2-1 win over Hungary yesterday. The result also saw Sporting Kansas City center back Botond Barath receive a red card in the 95th minute, denying any hopes of a comeback.
The match was part of Group E qualifiers for the 2020 Euros. Slovakia is currently in position to qualify alongside 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists Croatia, while Hungary, Wales and Azerbaijan would all miss out.
Rusnak is expected to miss out on RSL's game Wednesday evening (9:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info) vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.
Also in Europe
Scotland had a match to forget Monday, as they dropped a 4-0 decision to Belgium in Group I of Euro qualifiers. Good news from an MLS perspective is Sporting winger Johnny Russell played the final 13 minutes off the bench, though the gap in quality was too great to overcome.
A brighter moment from Euro qualifiers came via Houston Dynamo center back Aljaz Struna. He played 54 minutes in Slovenia’s 3-2 win over Israel on Monday, as they moved up to second place in Group G. As of now, Slovenia would qualify alongside Poland, though Austria and others will challenge that notion with four more group-stage games remaining.