While the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is now done and dusted for all the players, stadium staffs and fans, the tournament work should only just be getting started for scouts eager to unearth value acquisitions for their respective clubs.
Which players that featured at the tournament should currently be having their names bandied about by the talent hounds and their management superiors? Glad you asked.
We've picked nine guys that stood out at the Gold Cup as potential quality additions for MLS shoppers. They play all over the field (and the world in current club life), and none is older than 27. From bona fide day-one starters to handy depth pieces to young projects, we've got it all. Ladies and gentleman, rev up your allocation monies.
After scoring in each of the two wins that opened Costa Rica's Gold Cup journey, the playmaker was relegated to cameo minutes in the consecutive losses that followed. A K-League Best XI honoree last season, Aguilar is a player entering his prime. He's lightning on the ball and can pick a splitting pass. And though he only joined Jeju United in January, the 27-year-old could be easy pickings if they can't get out of the bottom two and are relegated.
Any interested MLS parties (and according to his agent, there currently are several) should act fast. Boyd, who shined on loan at Turkish side Ankaragücü, reportedly counts Turkish giants Besiktas as being chief among suitors spread across Europe. The final year on his Vitoria de Guimaraes deal is set to begin, and word is he's ready to move. The US international would be a solid pick-up for any club, but especially for one that loves to get out on the fast break.
It was definitely a disappointing Gold Cup for Honduras, but their wide midfielder was among the team's top performers. Chirinos is due to return to Olimpia after a solid loan season with relegated Liga MX side Lobos. The 24-year-old is smoothly aggressive on the ball, can pick a run, excels on the break and works hard in defense. He may not score a great deal, but will drive play up the right all day.
Are we genuinely stumping for a guy who plays in the Swedish third flight? Yep. The Bermuda midfield engine took home the Second Division Best Midfielder award with Bodens last season. Clemons, a central midfielder, actually has a lot of Weston McKennie in his game. He is smaller, but bites like a bulldog and is excellent at exploding out of crowds on the dribble. The 24-year-old also turns like a demon and passes cleverly through lines.
The right back worked every minute of Curacao's thrilling knockout run, proving himself to be both technically and tactically adept. Gaari, who helped RKC Waalwijk earn promotion to the Eredivisie in the spring, still has two years left on his pact. The Dutch-born 25-year-old will probably want his first crack at the top division there, but is worth keeping tabs on in case the Mandemakers side quickly fall into a relegation mire.
The Canada international was decent in part-time duty for Hearts last season. Now stuck behind a mainstay and entering the last year of his contract, he is being allowed to look for a new club. The wingback, who can work either flank at a comparable level, still has considerable room to grow. Godinho was solid at the Gold Cup until the second half of the Haiti loss, but probably hasn't shown his best yet. Just shy of a year removed from knee surgery, the 22-year-old should find even more spring in his step soon.
The Bermuda winger was having a good season with USL Championship side Charleston Battery before departing for Gold Cup duty. The former New York Red Bulls first-round SuperDraft pick showed he can carve out chances for himself and for teammates. Lewis has always had skill, but he does seem shiftier and more mature since coming back from a year in Iceland. He is entering the final six months of his Charleston Battery deal, so the cost of taking a shot on him would be minimal.
The star of Haiti's run that took them agonizingly close to a semifinal upset of Mexico was their Dirk Kuyt-esque do-everything power forward. Nazon holds up play, he spots the open man, he takes on defenders, he scores the tough goals and he does it all with an edge. He has two years left on his contract with Belgian battlers Sint-Truiden, but could possibly be tempted closer to home. The striker comes with a ton of European experience for someone who turned 25 in April, and could provide value production for the right MLS employer.
It seems as though the 22-year-old Jamaica forward is coming into his own. We've seen what all that he can do over the last few months, including scoring a cracking winner in a pre-Gold Cup friendly with the US and then another pair during the team's semifinal run. Nicholson can run, shoot, pass, defend, play big and operate anywhere on the front line, and his MK Domizale contract is entering its final season.