Gaston Gimenez -Paraguay v Argentina - Nov. 12, 2020
REUTERS/Juan Ignacio Roncoroni

MLS players in World Cup, Euro, Africa Cup of Nations qualifying action on Thursday

While much of the focus will be on the US men’s national team’s match against Wales, there’s a host of Major League Soccer players who featured on the international stage on Thursday, including in crucial qualifying contests for Euro 2020, the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2022 World Cup.

Here’s a look at some of the key matches.

Northern Ireland 1, Slovakia 2

Jan Gregus from Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake’s Albert Rusnak celebrated a hard-fought passage to Euro 2020 (which will be played in summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) after needing extra time to top Northern Ireland in Belfast on Thursday evening.

Rusnak started for Slovakia and went deep into the match, only coming off in the 118th minute with the Slovaks looking to protect their lead. Gregus, on the other hand, provided the fresh legs in the added period, coming on in the 106th minute. Slovakia looked good value to win it in regulation thanks to a first-half goal from Juraj Kucka, but an 87th-minute own goal gave the hosts a lifeline. The visitors hung tough, though, and found the winning goal in the 110th minute to send them to their second consecutive Euros.

Slovakia will also host Scotland in a UEFA Nations League B match on November 15.

Georgia 0, North Macedonia 1

The San Jose Earthquakes duo of Vako and Guram Kashia were both in the starting XI for Georgia for their UEFA European Championship playoff final against North Macedonia but came out on the losing side as their country failed to make it to Euro 2020.

Bolivia 2, Ecuador 3

Seattle Sounders defender Xavier Arreaga started and went the full 90, while former FC Dallas man Carlos Gruezo scored the winning penalty in the 88th minute, as Ecuador pulled out a wild road in in South American World Cup qualifying.

Ecuador also featured LAFC duo Diego Palacios and Jose Cifuentes, as well as midfielder Jhegson Mendez from Orlando City SC, on their roster, though Palacios and Mendez did not come off the bench and Cifuentes was not in the matchday squad. The win was Ecuador's second in three qualifiers so far. They next host Colombia Nov. 17.

Argentina 1, Paraguay 1

Although New York Red Bulls midfielder Kaku did not see action, Gaston Gimenez of the Chicago Fire played almost the full 90 minutes as Paraguay grabbed an impressive 1-1 draw with Lionel Messi's Argentina in South American World Cup qualifying action in Buenos Aires on Thursday. The result keeps Paraguay unbeaten in three games to start their qualification campaign ahead of hosting Bolivia on Tuesday.

Cameroon 4, Mozambique 1

Philadelphia Union defender Olivier Mbaizo made a winning debut for Cameroon, playing the full game as the Indomitable Lions put up a dominant 4-1 win over Mozambique in 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. The win allowed Cameroon to climb to the top of Group D, although as hosts they will qualify no matter the final standings.

Cape Verde 0, Rwanda 0

Philadelphia midfielder Jamiro Monteiro also went the full 90 in Group D's other game, but his side couldn't quite replicate the winning effort of club teammate Mbaizo and his Cameroon teammates. The scoreless draw at home against Rwanda leaves Cape Verde in third place in the group, one point behind Mozambique — a missed opportunity as they look to return to Africa's biggest stage for the first time since 2015.

Ivory Coast 2, Madagascar 1

Minnesota United defender Romain Metanire went 90 minutes for Madagascar in a difficult away trip to the Ivory Coast in which they fell just short. Madagascar had been looking to go top of Group K in 2021 AFCON qualifying, but could now find themselves in a three-way tie for first at the halfway point depending on the result of Ethiopia's game against Niger on Friday.

Uganda 1, South Sudan 0

Chicago Fire midfielder Micheal Azira went the full 90 for Uganda in this Matchday 3 showdown between neighbors. The result allowed the Cranes to keep pace with Burkina Faso atop qualifying Group B, with each team on seven points.