We’re just a few days away from the much anticipated inaugural edition of Leagues Cup, which by pitting MLS and Liga MX teams against each other will add yet another layer to an already fierce and intense rivalry between both leagues.
As the kickoff to the tournament quickly approaches, we’re counting down the Top 10 players to watch during the tournament as they’ll try to lead their clubs to glory and, in doing so, be awarded the MVP trophy as well:
- 10 Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake): The Venezuelan attacker is a force when taking on defenders one on one, and at his young age he already possesses a mature footballing IQ that allows him to make the right choices when it comes to finishing a play himself or assisting a teammate. Savarino is a constant threat, capable of doing harm on both wings, as well as the middle of the pitch.
- 9 Guido Pizarro (Tigres UANL): He certainly doesn’t spend much time in the spotlight, as his teammates who play on top generally do. However, the Argentine center midfielder provides the needed balance for Tigres and has been a mainstay in ‘Tuca’ Ferretti’s successful tactical system. Pizarro’s performances didn’t go unnoticed in his native country, as he earned a call-up to the Argentina squad for this summer’s Copa America.
- 8 Camilo Sanvezzo (Club Tijuana): A familiar face among MLS fans thanks to his tenure as the Vancouver Whitecaps' go-to goal scorer. The Brazilian showed his striking ability in the Mexican league playing for Queretaro. With ‘Los Gallos’ he went on to become Liga MX's scoring champion in Apertura 2014. Camilo, in his first season with the fierce ‘Xolos’, is looking to continue his lethal striking ways under head coach Oscar Pareja – another MLS veteran.
- 7 Uriel Antuna (LA Galaxy): He had his breakthrough with the senior Mexican National Team during the Gold Cup, but he’s been quite the revelation with Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s squad since the beginning of the current MLS season. The Mexican winger has made a massive impact for the Galaxy playing on top alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, giving birth to a lethal partnership. He’ll be facing his native country clubs for the first time since his brief days in Liga MX before his move to Europe.
- 6 Elías Hernández (Cruz Azul): Pedro Caixinha was able to get the winger to reach his finest form, topping his already impressive performances at Club Leon. Elias was as hot as it could get during the Apertura 2018, when Cruz Azul finished as the top seeded team and got within a game of winning the league. An unfortunate injury at the beginning of this year sidelined him, significantly hurting the Azules’ championship chances. This semester the glory thirsty ‘Maquina’ and a hungry Hernandez are up for vindication.
- 5 Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo): The Honduran forward’s game has evolved in Houston, and combined with his characteristic speed and power, ‘La Pantera’ has become one of the most complete and feared strikers in MLS. During his time at Monterrey he was never able to show the best side of himself, but wearing the Orange jersey against Mexican opponents might just be a different story.
- 4 Agustin Marchesin (Club America): Quite simply the best goalkeeper in Mexican football. ‘Marche’ is a player who secures wins for America with his saves and leadership - qualities that have also been instrumental in winning championships. Not only did he recently stop a penalty, but also scored the decisive spot kick during a dramatic shootout against Tigres that ended with America conquering the ‘Campeón de Campeones’. It’s a bit odd that a goalie is considered the player to follow for ‘Las Aguilas,’ but he’s earned it. It’s also important to consider some of his teammates’ current form: Nico Castillo hasn’t lived up to expectations, Giovani dos Santos and Jeremy Menez are question marks, while reports are hinting that both Roger Martinez and Guido Rodriguez might be heading to Europe, following in the footsteps of Edson Alvarez.
- 3 Nicolas Gaitán (Chicago Fire): Since his arrival in the ‘Windy City’ earlier this season, the Argentine has taken over as the Fire’s main playmaker. His hierarchy as a former Argentina National Team member, combined with his experience at top clubs like Boca Juniors, Benfica and Atletico Madrid, made him an ideal pick for Chicago, and he’s repaid the faith given him by scoring four goals and eight assists to date.
- 2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy): A man who needs no introduction, Ibra has been outstanding wherever he’s played, and his tenure with the Galaxy has been no exception. The Swedish ‘Lion’, currently sitting in third place in the MLS goal scoring table (13 goals), wants to win titles wearing the Galaxy jersey, and Leagues Cup could very allow him to lift a trophy with the Southern California club.
- 1 Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres UANL): Already considered the best player in Tigres history and one of the greatest to ever play in the Mexican league, he’s the icon of the Monterrey-based club’s Golden Era. The only pending account for Gignac’s Tigres is on the International front… That’s where the relevancy of the Leagues Cup kicks in for the French striker and Tigres.