It won’t just be players returning from the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup this week; there’ll surely be some scouts too.
The Gold Cup provides a great opportunity for MLS clubs to closely monitor the region's international players, without having to travel much. And given the competition, if players can do well in this tournament, chances are they can play in MLS.
Here are ten players MLS clubs should consider.
10. Kevin Parsemain
Projected Fit: D.C. United, Colorado Rapids
The Martinique star signed a few years ago with the Seattle Sounders, but was let go after an injury put him out for the season. With explosive movement, some deft skill, and three goals in the group stage (two against the US) the 29-year-old showed he can still play.
9. Mark-Anthony Kaye
Position: Central Midfielder
Projected Fit: Vancouver Whitecaps, Columbus Crew SC
Toronto FC are probably ruing the fact that they let the 22-year-old leave. Now starring at Louisville City in the USL, Kaye didn’t play a lot in the tournament, but the box-to-box midfielder did very well against Costa Rica, showing he’s ready to play in MLS. He would be a good depth option now and a potential starter later.
8. David Ramirez
Position: Left Midfielder / Forward
Projected Fit: New York Red Bulls, Minnesota United
Ramirez replaced Rodney Wallace on the left after the New York City FC winger picked up an injury. Ramirez doesn’t have the same nose for goal that Wallace does, but he has tremendous work rate, can deliver good crosses and set pieces, and – at 24 – still has some upside.
7. Samuel Piette
Position: Central Midfielder
Projected Fit: Montreal Impact, San Jose Earthquakes
The Quebec native, now playing in third division Spain, has already said he wants to play in MLS, preferably Montreal, and he improved his chances of doing so with a very strong tournament. Technically, he’s above average, comfortable with both feet, the kind of player you want on the ball when playing out of transition. Might not be a full starter in MLS just yet, but he’s only 22.
6. Nelson Bonilla
Projected Fit: D.C United, Colorado Rapids
El Salvador’s best player, Bonilla had a good tournament with two goals and one assist in just three games. Pacey and technical, he would be an upgrade for several teams. At 26, he’s nearing the prime of his career, and he seems to have hit a roadblock in Portugal.
5. Scott Arfield
Position: Central Midfield
Projected Fit: Vancouver Whitecaps
Playing in the Premier League with Burnley, we started to see Arfield at his best with Canada in this tournament. There’s no question he’d be able to handle the physicality of the league, but in MLS, the box-to-box midfielder could also have a little more license to get forward and aid the attack.
4. Leandro Bacuna
Position: Central Midfield / Right Fullback
Projected Fit: New York Red Bulls, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United
Bacuna had a quiet tournament with Curacao, who didn’t win or score, but the versatile midfielder could be a nice fit in MLS. The 26-year-old has split his career between the Netherlands and England, so he doesn’t lack technique or physique. He can deliver set pieces, and can play almost anywhere in midfield, at fullback and even as second striker if needed. Aston Villa might be looking to unload him this summer.
3. Giancarlo Gonzalez
Position: Central Defender
Projected Fit: Montreal Impact
The Costa Rican defender is already well known to MLS clubs, after a stint with Columbus (2014). He had a strong tournament, showing once again that he’s one of the region’s best central defenders. Having just joined Bologna in Serie A, his most likely destination is the Impact, who share the same owner in Joey Saputo.
2. Edson Alvarez
Position: Central Defender / Right Fullback / Right Midfielder
Projected Fit: Atlanta United, LAFC
Alvarez is mostly a defender—and MLS teams might not want to be spending big money on a defender—but the powerful 19-year-old is versatile and can also play higher up in midfield. Although he might not fancy a move, it would be still worth a try. Maybe for some of the newer MLS teams. This is a special talent.
1. Bryan Ruiz
Position: Second Forward / Central Attacking Midfielder / Right Winger
Projected Fit: New York City, Minnesota United
Ruiz didn’t have a good Gold Cup, but don’t be fooled: he’d still be a great signing. Many teams might also be turned off by the fact that he’s not much of a runner, but with his ability on the ball he would be a definite difference maker in MLS. Better move for him soon, before it’s too late.