Handwalla Bwana - Seattle Sounders - solo shot
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Four players who can step up in MLS this week amid international absences

Before the entire league takes a quick break for the Gold Cup this summer, there are six MLS games (and the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup) to come. But for those dozen clubs, many players have already left for international duty. 

It lends opportunity for some. Here are four players who can step up this week:

Handwalla Bwana

Missing Nico Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan from the Seattle Sounders midfield, as well as Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz from the attack, Bwana (pictured above) could slip into a key role on Wednesday against Montreal (7:30 pm ET | TVAS in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US). The Homegrown winger has shown flashes of quality when on the pitch with his game-breaking dribbling ability, but in limited time behind his side's star players. 

Missing such key players, might the Rave Green inch youngsters Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez closer to their much-anticipated debuts? Perhaps. 

Kyle Duncan

Kyle Duncan (right) | USA Today Sports Images

Some players are heading on international duty, others are coming back. Duncan spent time with the US national team before the senior players re-joined, and with Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo headed to their national team camps, Duncan is in line to make a seamless transition into the New York Red Bulls' starting XI.

Terrence Boyd

With Jozy Altidore with the USMNT and Ayo Akinola battling an injury, Terrence Boyd may be in line for his second Toronto FC start on Friday (7 pm ET | TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US).

It hasn't been a glittering start to his TFC career for the former Darmstadt man, but that can all change with a little confidence and run of good form. Plus, if he beats out Jordan Hamilton and earns minutes, he could have consistent run in the team. Altidore is expected to make Gregg Berhalter's final 23-man Gold Cup squad, and if the USMNT make the final, Altidore will miss at least five TFC games.

Thomas Roberts

Thomas Roberts | USA Today Sports Images

FC Dallas are missing a whole bunch of midfielders at various tournaments, which gave Roberts the opportunity for his second MLS start last weekend. Against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision in US, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) he is likely to get another start with teammates off at the U-20 World Cup and preparation for the Gold Cup and Copa America.

The 18-year-old Homegrown hasn't looked out of place in his first five career MLS appearances. 

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