Featured Image: Canadian Press
It was an eventful weekend for Peruvians abroad. From goal-scorers to red cards, 13 different players were heavily involved in some way.
Here is your in-depth weekend roundup.
I don’t think there was a more deserving Peruvian scorer this weekend than Ray Sandoval.
The 23-year-old scored the opener, off a header no less, for Monarcas Morelia in their 3-1 win over Santos Laguna. It was perfectly executed from the run to the finish.
Sandoval finished the match with four dribbles, two key passes and five duels won, displaying what was an all-around performance for the left winger.
Most importantly, Sandoval is becoming a more focal member of the attack. Most chances were generated down the left wing, including this one below to Irven Ávila.
So far, so good for Sandoval in the opening two matches of the 2018 Apertura.
Last week was hit-or-miss for Irven Ávila. Not so much this week.
Ávila was incredibly active all game long, as seen by his heat map below. He even had two great opportunities to score. One came off a cross from his former Sporting Cristal teammate Ray Sandoval.
Ávila was a menace in the air all game long. Santos goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo was beaten to a few crosses by the Peruvian and the centre-backs were constantly losing the Monarcas striker whenever he made a darting run.
Even his work off the ball was crucial. This sequence didn’t lead to a dangerous attack but Ávila’s ability to get stuck in lures defenders away from Sandoval or Diego Valdes because they have to win those 50-50 balls.
Like Sandoval, Ávila also had two key passes in the game, which indicated a return to his usual “provider” role up front.
After scoring a decisive goal to send the Vancouver Whitecaps to the Canadian Championship final, Yordy Reyna was back on the scoresheet on Fiestas Patrias.
He scored the opener for Vancouver, just like on Wednesday versus the Montreal Impact, to help the Whitecaps defeat Minnesota United 4-2.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
It was a confident finish from a player who is clearly riding high over the past few days. Deployed as a second striker after last week’s debacle in Seattle, Reyna was far more influential around the penalty area.
Initially, the Peruvian attacker was dropping very deep to collect the ball but as soon as he roamed forward, the chances started to build, which culminated with his scintillating strike.
Andy Polo earned an opportunity to play on his preferred right wing against the Houston Dynamo, which led to a strong performance from the 23-year-old.
Polo was deployed as a right-sided central midfielder in a 3-5-2, and when he drifted to the middle, he was breathtaking.
This final pass was a bit delayed, as Polo definitely had time to play it through earlier but the run itself opened up a ton of space on the counter.
Polo completed 82 per cent of his 51 passes, en route to finishing the full 90 minutes. He was also very active defensively, executing five interceptions that ultimately led to fast breaks down the pitch.
This wasn’t the first time Polo has played as a central midfielder for the Timbers this season. Facing another counter-attacking team in Houston meant he had more space to operate but perhaps Giovanni Savarese should make this a permanent move.
Christian Cueva’s Russian adventure began as he made his debut for Krasnodar in their 2-1 defeat to Rubin Kazan.
Even though Cueva logged just 27 minutes off the bench, he made a near-immediate impact.
He was asking for the ball, constantly looking for that killer pass or dribble and it nearly led to an equalizer for Krasnodar.
These sequences show Cueva at his best, when he’s full of energy, flair and technique.
From the looks of his first appearance, Cueva will be allowed to play as a free-roaming No. 10. He obviously loves to drift to the left wing at times, so that is crucial for him.
However, the Peruvian playmaker still appears rusty, which is completely understandable. It’s the start of the Russian Premier League season and he himself is not match fit.
But it was a decent debut from Cueva, so hopefully that leads to an even stronger first start.
Paolo Guerrero was involved in his fourth match in 11 days, although he only played for 17 minutes against Sport Recife. However, it seems like this fixture congestion has caught up to the talismanic forward.
Guerrero will miss Wednesday’s cup game after picking up a thigh injury, although he should be back for the weekend’s match versus Gremio.
Injury update: Paolo Guerrero will miss Wednesday's Cup match due to a left thigh injury. He's already undergoing treatment and will remain in Rio. He's expected to join team later in the week for Saturday's Brasileirao match, also away vs Gremio.
— FlamengoENG (@FlamengoENG) July 30, 2018
While it’s clearly a positive to see Guerrero playing, this run of matches has caught up to him. At 34 years old, he has to be maintained, otherwise these niggling muscle injuries will become a regular occurrence.
Sunday was supposed to be a monumental day for Pedro Aquino, given he was making his full debut for León.
Instead, his night ended after just 23 minutes following this challenge.
It was unfortunate because Aquino was actually playing well. He had three tackles, two interceptions and a couple of fantastic long passes to start counter-attacks. Unfortunately for him, he kept a leg out and it led to a red card.
Amid transfer speculation, Pedro Gallese started for Veracruz as they lost 2-0 to Lobos BUAP.
Gallese had a couple of nervous moments in the game, including this one nearly disastrous incident.
However, Gallese made amends a few moments later.
He was not at fault for either goal, but the defence was absolutely horrific without Christian Ramos. Gallese is probably hoping one interested club snaps him up soon.
Raúl Ruidíaz also made his full debut for the Seattle Sounders, completing around 86 minutes in a huge 3-1 victory over New York City FC.
Interestingly, head coach Brian Schmetzer teased the possibility of playing with two up front. Ruidíaz would likely partner Will Bruin, who is a fantastic hold-up striker who can draw the attention of multiple defenders.
We saw it for around 10 minutes and Ruidíaz was incredibly dangerous. With the added presence up front, the Peruvian had more space in the box, he wasn’t isolated and had time to operate. He could’ve even exited the match with a goal but narrowly missed the far post from a tight angle.
With a match against Minnesota United on Saturday, it will be intriguing to see if Schmetzer makes the switch.
Despite the 3-1 defeat, Callens was a monster at the back yet again.
On top of completing four tackles, three interceptions and three ball recoveries, Callens only misplaced five passes.
Callens’s ability to penetrate the opposing lines with his passing, and he was doing this regularly versus the Sounders.
Another underrated aspect of Callens’s defending is his ability to cover ground quickly and position himself to make the intervention.
The fact that Callens continues to be overlooked as a top defender in MLS is downright criminal.
The sky is blue. Water is wet. Yoshimar Yotún was sublime again for Orlando City.
It’s one of life’s certainties, at least in recent weeks. Yotún created eight chances in the game but his overall distribution was patchy.
The game itself was pretty chaotic. It finished 4-3 for the LA Galaxy and neither midfield was able to control the tempo of the game. That has more to do with Yotún’s performance than anything he did individually.
The Russian Premier League season is officially underway, and Lokomotiv Moscow began their title defence on Monday versus FC Ufa.
Jefferson Farfán started and finished the full 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw. Farfán started on the right wing but spent the majority of the match cutting from the left wing into the centre of the pitch.
No Lokomotiv player completed more dribbles (3) or key passes (2) than Farfán. In the end, a hot goalkeeper was the difference.