Major League Soccer

5 MLS players to watch out for at the Gold Cup

Lizzy Becherano
Jozy Altidore vs. Jonathan dos Santos during Mexico vs United States in the Final of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Jozy Altidore vs. Jonathan dos Santos during Mexico vs United States in the Final of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Concacaf is gearing up for the 16th edition of the Gold Cup, where 25 nations compete against each other for the prestigious trophy.

The tournament will take place from July 10 to August 1 across the United States, and now, almost three weeks prior to kick off, all participating nations have submitted their provisional rosters. 

Major League Soccer players have long formed part of this tournament’s history, making an impact on every edition. This year, over 100 Major League Soccer players across the 25 participating nations were called up to provisional rosters in hopes to lead their team to success. 

While there is plenty of potential on each list, here are the five MLS players who you should be keeping an eye out for at the Gold Cup...

5. Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy, Mexico)

Efrain Alvarez
Efrain Alvarez playing for Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids / Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Efrain Alvarez was born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, making him eligible for both the United States men’s national team and the Mexican national team.

In December, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter called up the young player to camp, in the hope he could experience the team’s atmosphere to make a well informed decision. Months later, Alvarez debuted with the Mexican national team in March 2021 during a friendly against Costa Rica. Since experimenting with both teams, Alvarez has gone with his latin roots and selected to represent El Tri in international competitions. 

He remains new to international duty, but the young player has proven himself in Major League Soccer. Alvarez has played six out of eight games so far this season for LA Galaxy, keeping the midfield secure to remain third in the Western Conference table. 

4. Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, USA)

Jozy Altidore
Jozy Altidore playing for Toronto FC against Montreal Impact / Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

There has been a lot of speculation lately on the future of Jozy Altidore since his altercation with Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas. Since being subbed off against Orlando City, Altidore has been training away from the team with no determined date for return. While his future at Toronto remains unknown, his involvement in USMNT success cannot be overlooked. 

He stands as one of the most decorated players, scoring the third-most goals in US national team history with 42, and has been a part of two World Cup rosters in 2010 and 2014.

Though Berhalter has taken the United States team through a regeneration to form a new golden age, Altidore cannot be left behind just yet.

3. Daryl Dike (Orlando City, USA)

Daryl Dike
Daryl Dike playing for Orlando City SC against Inter Miami CF / Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After a successful loan spell with English Championship team Barnsley, Daryl Dike is back wearing purple with Orlando City.

The young forward thrived in England, recording nine goals in 21 appearances that almost inspired a Premier League promotion. Since his departure, Dike debuted with the U.S. men’s national team and rejoiced in the Nations League triumph.

As a young player, a lot is expected of Dike but his potential justifies the pressure. His ability to create spaces and dominate on the offensive may be the perfect way for the United States’ chances to reach the final in Las Vegas. 

The forward has not yet been figured out by opponents, adding a spontaneous element to the USMNT’s attack. Berhalter praised Dike after the Nations League, giving good indication that the player will find his way to the starting lineup. 

2. Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City, Mexico)

Alan Pulido
Alan Pulido playing for Sporting Kansas City against Houston Dynamo FC / Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Tata Martino recently praised Sporting Kansas City player Alan Pulido for his great start to the 2021 Major League Soccer season.

So far, he's recorded five goals and one assist in just eight matches, and behind teammate Chicharito, Pulido continues to be in the running for one of the league's greatest honors - the Golden Boot. 

During a recent press conference, Martino specifically pointed to Pulido’s creative ability and the intense involvement he’s had in Sporting Kansas FC's offense. While he didn’t get too involved in Mexico’s Nations League run, Pulido has been very outspoken about impacting his country to the greatest extent.

1. Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City, USA)

Gianluca Busio
Gianluca Busio playing for Sporting Kansas City against San Jose Earthquakes / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Gianluca Busio has emerged this season as one of the most exciting players to watch. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder has immense potential, and during week 7 of the 2021 MLS season, Busio scored a phenomenal free kick against Houston Dynamo that left Marko Maric flat footed.

He’s scored one other goal since, but Busio’s greatest contributions lie in the midfield. At only 19 years old, both Berhalter and Sporting Kansas City head coach Paulo Nagamura expect much to come from the youngster.