Who are MLS's most underrated players in 2022?
Humans crave validation. I know this. You know this. We all know this, even if it’s not always comfortable to admit.
Updated through December 12, 2020
Columbus (2020): Santos made 22 regular-season appearances (six starts as a right-midfielder, six starts as a left-midfielder and 10 starts as an attacking midfielder). The midfielder made his 2020 regular-season debut as a starter on Opening Match against New York City FC (March 1), before starting on the road against Seattle Sounders FC (March 7). During the Group Stage of the MLS is Back Tournament, Santos started against the New York Red Bulls* (July 16) and provided his first assist of the 2020 regular-season on a Gyasi Zardes goal, before making a start against Atlanta United* (July 21). He made a total of three appearances (three starts) during the MLS is Back Tournament. Santos started at home against Chicago Fire FC (August 20) and provided his second regular-season assist in 2020 on Gyasi Zardes' 88th-minute goal, then started on the road at New York City FC (August 24). The midfielder then started on the road at FC Cincinnati (August 29), followed by a start at home against Philadelphia Union (September 2) where he provided an assist before starting at home against FC Cincinnati (September 6) and scoring his first regular-season goal of 2020 in the 52nd minute, also providing an assist in the match. Santos started at Chicago Fire FC and provided an assist (September 12) before scoring in consecutive home matches against Nashville SC (September 19) and the game-winner against Minnesota United FC (September 23) where he also provided an assist and earned MLS Team of the Week honors. He started in five consecutive matches from September 27 through October 18, notably scoring a goal against FC Dallas (October 3), FC Cincinnati (October 14) and New York City FC (October 18) and earning MLS Team of the Week honors after the NYCFC match. Santos started five consecutive matches from October 24 through November 8, notably providing an assist on the road at Orlando City SC (November 4). In Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs action, he made three starts: at home against the New York Red Bulls (November 21) - where he scored his first post-season goal on a penalty kick - and at home against Nashville SC (November 29), netting the game-winner before starting against the New England Revolution (December 6).
* MLS is Back Tournament Group Stage matches counted towards the 2020 MLS regular season
2019 (Columbus): Pedro Santos made 3 regular-season appearances (12 starts as a right midfielder, one start as a right winger, 15 starts as a central midfielder, one as a left midfielder, one as a left winger) in 2019 while scoring 11 goals and providing six assists. He made his 2019 regular-season debut in a home match against the New York Red Bulls (March 2). Santos recorded his 10th regular-season assist for Crew SC and first of the 2019 regular-season in a road match at New England (March 9), providing the game-winning assist on Gyasi Zardes’ goal. He recorded his second game-winning assist of the 2019 regular-season in the 10th minute of a home match against FC Dallas (March 16). Santos recorded his first goal of the 2019 season – the game winning goal - during the second minute of a home match against Atlanta United (March 30). Santos scored his second goal of the 2019 regular-season in a home contest against the Portland Timbers (April 20). He made a substitute appearance in the 56th minute during a road contest against the Houston Dynamo (April 27), coming into the match for Justin Meram. He returned to start for the Black & Gold in a road contest against D.C. United (May 4) where he played all 90 minutes. Santos recorded two consecutive goals for the Black & Gold, the first coming during a road contest at the Colorado Rapids (May 25) and during a home match against New York City FC (June 1). Santos was named to MLSSoccer.com’s Team of the Week following his performance against NYCFC. He recorded his first career penalty kick during a home contest against the Seattle Sounders (June 23). During a home contest against the Montreal Impact (July 20), Santos’ recorded his third assist (third game-winning) of the 2019 regular-season, providing the assist on David Accam’s 46th minute goal. He recorded his first brace of the 2019 regular-season during a road contest against the New York Red Bulls (July 27). Following his performance against the Red Bulls, Santos was named to MLSSoccer.com’s Team of the Week for the second time this season. Santos recorded two consecutive goals for the Black & Gold, for the second time this season, both coming during home contests vs FC Cincinnati (August 10) and against Toronto FC (August 17). Following his efforts, Santos was Named to MLSSoccer.com’s Team of the Week for the third time this season and recorded two consecutive nominations for MLSSoccer.com’s Goal of the Week (Week 23, 24). Santos recorded his 10th goal of the 2019 regular-season during a home contest against the Chicago Fire (August 31). His goal against the Fire earned Santos his third MLSSoccer.com Goal of the Week nomination. Santos scored a goal and provided an assist in a home match against the Philadelphia Union ()September 29). He made two appearances (two starts) in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (June 11) and Atlanta United (June 18). Santos was the recipient of the 2019 Crew SC Acura Most Valuable Player Award.
2018 (Columbus): Pedro Santos made 30 regular-season appearances (11 starts as a left midfielder and 18 starts as a right midfielder), registering one goal and seven assists. He provided an assist during the first match of the season on the road against Toronto FC (March 3). He also played 82 minutes in the second match of the season against Montreal Impact (March 10) and 89 minutes in the third match of the season against the Philadelphia Union (March 17). He scored a goal in a home match against D.C. United (March 24), and was named to the MLSSoccer.com Team of the Week for his efforts. Santos played all 90 minutes in matches from a home match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (March 31) to a road match against D.C. United (April 14). He registered an assist in a home match against the New England Revolution (April 21), and he recorded the game-winning assist in a home match against the San Jose Earthquakes (April 28). Santos received a red card in a road contest against Seattle Sounders FC (May 5) and missed the subsequent match against the Philadelphia Union (May 9). He returned to the starting lineup in a home match against the Chicago Fire (May 12), departing the match in the 10th minute due to a right thigh injury which caused him to miss subsequent matches against the New England Revolution (May 19), Sporting Kansas City (May 27) and Toronto FC (June 2). He returned to the starting lineup in consecutive matches from a home match against the New York Red Bulls (June 9) to a road match against Los Angeles FC (June 23). The following week, Santos provided the game-winning assist on Eduardo Sosa’s goal in a home match against Real Salt Lake (June 30). He made a substitute appearance in an international friendly at home against Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa (July 3). He continued to start in MLS regular-season action in consecutive matches from a road contest against the LA Galaxy (July 7) to a road match against the New York Red Bulls (July 28). Against the Red Bulls, Santos provided his fifth assist of the season on Jonathan Mensah’s seventh-minute goal. He provided his sixth assist of the season, a game-winning assist on Justin Meram’s 63rd-minute goal, in a home match against New York City FC (September 1). Santos recorded an assist, his seventh of the year, in a road match against the Portland Timbers (September 19) on Niko Hansen’s seventh-minute goal. Santos continued to start in consecutive matches from a home match against the Colorado Rapids (September 22) to a road match against Orlando City SC (October 21). He made three appearances (two starts as a right midfielder) in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Santos started in an Eastern Conference Knockout Round match against D.C. United (November 1), made a substitute appearance in an Eastern Conference Semifinals home match against the New York Red Bulls (November 4) and started in an Eastern Conference Semifinals road contest against the New York Red Bulls (November 11). He did not make an appearance in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
2017 (Columbus): Santos made nine appearances (eight starts) for Crew SC, eight starts as a right midfielder and one substitute appearance as an attacking midfielder, and registered two assists. He made his MLS and Crew SC debut in a road match against Orlando City SC (August 19) coming on as a substitute for Cristian Martinez in the 62nd minute. Santos made his first regular-season start for Crew SC in a home contest against the LA Galaxy (August 23), providing the game-winning assist, the first of his MLS career. Santos made five appearances (all starts) at right midfield in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
2013-2017 (SC Braga): Santos made his debut with SC Braga in September of 2014. He was a regular starter throughout his time with the club, making 114 appearances (72 starts) while scoring 24 goals and providing 19 assists. Santos has recorded at least five goals and four assists in each of his last three seasons with SC Braga. In 2016, Santos scored 10 goals and provided seven assists while also helping SC Braga to the 2016 Taca de Portugal Placard. Santos played in the final, scoring a penalty kick in SC Braga’s 6-4 penalty shootout win over FC Porto on May 22. During the 2015-2016 Europa League Santos helped SC Braga reach the quarterfinals, setting up a goal in a 4-1 home victory over Turkish side Fenerbahce SK. Santos then played the entire 90 minutes in the first leg of a quarterfinals match against FC Shakhtar Donetsk of the Ukrainian Premier League.
2014 (Rio Ave FC): Santos spent the second half of the 2013/2014 season on loan with Rio Ave FC of Portugal’s Second Division. While with Rio Ave FC, Santos made 22 appearances (19 starts), scoring one goal.
2013 (Astra Giurgiu): On July 1 of 2013, Santos was sent on loan to Astra Giurgiu of Romania’s First Division for the first half of the 2013/2014 season, making four appearances (two starts) and scoring one goal. He also helped Astra Giurgia win the 2014 Cup Romaniei, Romania’s Domestic Cup.
2012-2013 (Vitoria Setubal FC): Santos spent the 2013-2014 season with Vitoria Setubal FC, where he made 34 appearances (26 starts), recording four goals and four assists.
2010-2012 (Leixoes SC): Santos joined Leixoes SC of Portugal’s Second Division, where he made 50 appearances (39 starts) and scored six goals from 2010-2013.
2007-2010 (Casa Pia): Santos’ professional career began in 2007 with Casa Pia AC of Portugal’s Fourth Division. He was a member of the 2009-2010 squad that helped Casa Pia reach the Third Division.
Santos was acquired as a Designated Player via a Discovery Signing on August 8, 2017.
Name: Pedro Santos (pronounced: SAHN-toes)
Born: April 22, 1988 in Lisbon, Portugal
Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal
Acquired: Acquired as a Designated Player via a Discovery Signing on August 8, 2017
Previous Experience: Sporting Clube de Braga (2013-2017), Rio Ave FC (2014), Astra Giurgiu (2013), Vitoria Setubal FC (2012-2013), Leixoes SC (2010-2012), Casa Pia (2007-2010)
Santos is the son of Artur and Emilia. He has two siblings: a brother named Bruno and a sister named Andrea. He has a wife named Ana and two sons; Martin and Vicente. Growing up, his favorite club was Sporting Clube de Portugal and his favorite Portuguese player was Luis Figo. His all-time favorite player is Ronaldo Nazario da Lima, while his favorite current player is Cristiano Ronaldo. Santos enjoys playing videogames, especially the FIFA series. He also enjoys watching movies and spending time with his family in his spare time. His favorite city in the world is his hometown of Lisbon, Portugal. Santos enjoys traveling to South America, and says that his favorite vacation destination is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He speaks three languages: Portuguese, English and Spanish.
Think you know who wins the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs this year? Lock in your picks and you could be one of the 30 prize winners.