Featured Image: Todo Sport
The October international window ended with Peru picking up a win and draw over Chile and the United States, respectively. Players have since returned to their clubs, with the vast majority earning starts.
A few players picked up where they left off, while a couple must’ve suffered from jetlag because they appeared to be off the pace.
Here is your in-depth weekly roundup on 16 different Peruvians abroad.
Luis Abram wasn’t with the squad in the U.S., so he was well-rested for Vélez Sarsfield, who edged Gimnasia La Plata 1-0 on Friday evening.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Abram was stupendous across the 90 minutes. He won seven of his eight defensive duels and completed 39 of his 44 passes. Some of those attempts were breathtaking, too.
Of course, that means nothing if Abram struggled at the back. Rest assured, though, he was perfectly fine.
Even though Gimnasia finished the match with 10 men, this wasn’t an easy game for Abram. He was constantly covering for his teammates after one of their individual errors. Luckily for them, the Peruvian defender was there to clean up the mess.
While I still think Ricardo Gareca shouldn’t give up on Alexander Callens, if Peruvians want an instant success from a left-sided centre-back, Abram might be the ideal candidate. He can distribute and reads the game exceptionally well, especially at 22 years old.
Like Abram, Pedro Gallese was rested up for Veracruz’s match against Atlas. Gallese did not start for Peru against the U.S., so he had a full week to recover.
This wasn’t as dominant of a display compared to the 0-0 draw with Necaxa on Oct. 5, but it wasn’t terrible. Even though he conceded four goals, Gallese finished the match with four saves and a few strong claims as well.
Many will harp on the collapsed deal with Boca Juniors. As long as Gallese keeps playing for Veracruz and Peru, he will catch a break (no pun intended).
Wilder Cartagena was in the Peru squad, but didn’t play a single minute. Luckily for Veracruz, he was north of the border in the U.S. and was clearly fresh for the game against Atlas.
So fresh, in fact, that Cartagena was actually testing out his flair.
Kudos to Cartagena for being brave and taking initiative. A few of these driving runs actually paid off for Veracruz during the game. With Atlas lining up in two compact lines, the Peruvian’s guile unlocked some space for Los Tiburones Rojos when they had possession.
Cartagena was also thrusted into some uncomfortable areas of the pitch, but he calmly guided himself out of danger.
Yes, it was only Atlas, but that doesn’t matter. Cartagena has never shown these traits consistently. Yet over the past few weeks, he’s been a little braver on the ball, and in a game where Veracruz’s other central players struggled, the Peruvian had to step up.
Because Pedro Aquino played in both matches, his time with León was limited to 70 minutes. He definitely struggled defensively against Necaxa, although Aquino made up for it with his passing.
What was most intriguing was Aquino playing in the Yoshimar Yotún role. For starters, he occupied the same spaces that Yotún covers with la Bicolor.
Even his movements and passes were eerily similar to Yotún’s.
Attempted 57 passes, a rarity for Aquino at the club level, is also another sign that he was perfectly fine on the left side of the midfield for León.
One absolutely mind-blowing miss aside, it was business as usual for André Carrillo with Al-Hilal against Al-Shabab.
He was incisive, dynamic and created numerous chances for Al-Hilal, who only edged Al-Shabab 1-0, although it could’ve been at least a four-goal advantage if not for wasteful finishing and last-ditch defending from the opposition.
I don’t think we’ll ever have to worry about Carrillo in Saudi Arabia. However, if he finds himself slipping into a comfort zone of sorts, that could affect his performances for Peru. Stay tuned.
You know you’re confident when you pull off a panenka.
Con los 🥚🥚 de Yoshi 👏pic.twitter.com/fR9rt4wKXp
— The Peruvian Waltz (@PeruWaltz) October 22, 2018
That’s how Yoshimar Yotún must be feeling after two fantastic matches for Peru after a year of inconsistency with the national team. He helped Orlando defeat the Columbus Crew 2-1 and could’ve had a second goal a few minutes after the penalty as well.
Apart from the goal, it was a typical day at the office for Yotún. He completed 65 passes (91 per cent accuracy) and logged six (SIX!) key passes against Columbus. Hopefully this continues heading into November.
Another game, another role for Carlos Ascues, who started as a left-sided centre-back in a back three for Orlando. That’s now four different positions in nine games for Ascues. Sometimes I have to rub my eyes and check that Pablo Bengoechea isn’t coaching the team.
To Ascues’ credit, he was actually quite impressive in the back three. He didn’t push forward too often and wasn’t too active in possession, but was a monster defensively.
My one reservation with Ascues was his rambunctiousness on the ball. For the most part, that hasn’t been witnessed since he’s joined MLS. Defensively he’s been very reliable, so if he stays in Orlando and impresses in 2019, Ascues might fight his way back into the national team.
If you’re questioning whether Raúl Ruidíaz should be starting for Peru, just watch this clip.
— Raúl Ruidíaz M. (@RaulRuidiazM) October 22, 2018
This is what Ruidíaz is capable of doing on the regular. Sure, there will be misses which will be amplified with the national team due to the smaller sample of games. But Peru’s attack is slowly figuring out how to boost Ruidíaz’s scoring chances. Eventually, he should be able to finish those opportunities.
As for his performance against the Houston Dynamo, he scored (as seen above) in a dramatic 3-2 win for the Seattle Sounders. That’s now eight goals in 12 starts. Business as usual for la pulga.
Ruidíaz had five shots in the game and he actually missed another clear-cut chance from a few yards out. But guess what? That happens to strikers all the time. As long as they have the opportunities, that’s what matters.
Yotún wasn’t the only Peruvian to convert a penalty. Yordy Reyna bagged one of his own for the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 2-2 draw with LAFC.
Yordy Reyna scores his sixth of the season.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 21, 2018
Unfortunately, that eliminated the Whitecaps from playoff contention. There will still be Peruvian representation with Alexander Callens (New York City FC), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers) and Raúl Ruidíaz (Seattle Sounders).
Anyways, back to Reyna. After he pulled Vancouver back to within a goal, he nearly buried the second goal. Watch how he lurks around the penalty area, calmly creates separation in the box and fires just wide.
29' – Reyna INCHES away from equalizing.
Good response from the 'Caps here.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 21, 2018
That’s a player who is full of confidence these days.
New York City FC has only won two of its last 12 games in MLS, and are heavily favoured to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Losing 3-1 to red-hot D.C. United didn’t exactly boost their prospects, and Alexander Callens was somewhat culpable for the defeat.
There were some worrying moments from Callens, especially when he was closing down opposing attackers. He was a bit too overeager when attempting a tackle, which cost him against the U.S. as well.
There were some good interventions as well, but these mistakes have been very rare since Callens joined NYCFC. Considering he’s coming back from international duty and his club isn’t in top form, he can be excused for now. This just can’t become a common trend in the near future.
I don’t think anybody boosted their national team stock more than Andy Polo. I did point out a couple of negatives in his performance against the U.S., but it was generally brilliant.
Polo managed to bring that same intensity to the Portland Timbers’ victory over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. He also worked on some of those flaws from the U.S. game.
Firstly, Polo was making quicker, more incisive decisions when he was on the ball.
I really hope Polo keeps this form for the playoffs and in the subsequent international break (assuming he’s allowed to leave Portland during the post-season). He deserves another look from Gareca.
Another player who excelled during the friendlies was Edison Flores. We hadn’t seen that sort of electric play from Flores since 2017.
However, because he started both of Peru’s games, he came off the bench for Monarcas Morelia in their 2-0 victory over Anderson Santamaría’s Puebla.
Flores logged 33 minutes but it was almost like Morelia had just thrown on the Energizer Bunny. The Peruvian was so lively that even some teammates couldn’t keep up.
This is why Peruvians love Flores. Not only is he a humble character, he’s incredibly dynamic on the pitch when his confidence is high. This is the ideal situation for the 24-year-old, and it’s showing so far.
Anderson Santamaría didn’t draw a lot of plaudits for his performance against Monarcas. That’s likely due to this unfortunate mishap.
Santamaría losing that aerial duel led to the second goal for Monarcas, which is disappointing from his end. But it’s not a justification in slandering his overall display.
In fact, Santamaría was perfectly fine in the game. There were no highlight-reel moments, but that’s all we can ask from a defender. Besides, Puebla has been a disaster in the Apertura and can’t score to save their lives these days. That puts even more pressure on the back line.
For the love of Peru, Cristian: please stay healthy.
By now, you’ve probably seen that Cristian Benavente scored and assisted for Sporting Charleroi over the weekend. In case you missed it:
And the assist:
But Benavente had another opportunity to add to his tally. Pay special attention to the run into the box.
At the very least, Benavente was winning free kicks with his swift movements in the final third.
And look at those progressive passes…
This time around, Benavente was in a central role, but spent lots of time on both flanks. That could be something for Ricardo Gareca to think about for the November friendlies.
Even though he had to fly from the United States to Russia, Christian Cueva was able to start for Krasnodar in a 1-0 loss to Akhmat Grozny on Sunday.
It was a standard Cueva performance. He started as the central playmaker for Krasnodar, but drifted to the left wing to help the struggling Viktor Claesson.
Krasnodar may have been held by Akhmat, but Cueva was causing fits for the opposing defence.
It took Cueva around two months to crack the starting lineup. He’s made the 11 in two of Krasnodar’s last three matches, and this performance shouldn’t have hindered his chances for more starts. Hopefully Cueva’s status is unchanged from here on out.
This was not a classic Luis Advíncula performance. He clearly looked fatigued after travelling back and forth from the U.S.
However, this was probably Advíncula’s first mediocre showing for Rayo Vallecano. He’s allowed one mishap every now and then.