Featured Image: Líbero
It was a very successful weekend for Peruvians abroad.
In some cases, players delivered some fantastic performances mere hours after Ricardo Gareca’s squad announcement for the September friendlies. Whether it was Sergio Peña or Ray Sandoval, Peruvians were raring to impress.
That form continued into the weekend, with a couple of players scoring as well.
Here is an in-depth recap on 16 different Peruvians abroad.
After failing to keep his scoring form intact, Ray Sandoval was involved yet again as helped Monarcas Morelia edge Atlas 1-0.
Sandoval, about six hours after making the latest Peru squad, assisted his countryman Irven Ávila for the lone goal of the match.
Sandoval was, not for the first time, very lively on the left side. He nearly set up a couple more quality scoring opportunities. Including this one below in the 24th minute.
Strangely, Edison Flores has been linked to Monarcas Morelia, which is a slight disappointment considering Sandoval has been excellent in his past 10 appearances for the club. Surely Flores’s arrival would stunt that development.
It was nice to see Irven Ávila on the scoresheet. His hard work off the ball usually goes unnoticed and pundits who barely watch him point to the scoring record as a means to slander the Peruvian.
Ávila, once again, was closing down opposing defenders and providing strong hold-up play for Monarcas. He drew four fouls and won eight duels in his 90 minutes, all as a lone striker in a 4-3-3 system.
After a two-week absence due to a strained glute, Pedro Gallese returned to the Veracruz 11 against Chivas.
Things didn’t go according to plan, as Gallese conceded a pretty soft goal at his near post after just 12 minutes.
Gallese actually looked very nervous in this game. He was hesitant when claiming crosses and not too assertive when coming off his line. This has affected Gallese at times to begin the Apertura, although it was very prevalent in this match.
Could it be due to the financial issues at the club? Gallese not sealing a transfer? Lack of match fitness after a two-week break?
I’ll stick with the latter for now, but if this persists into September, it may be time to start asking serious questions about Peru’s No. 1.
While Gallese struggled, Wilder Cartagena was pretty solid for a second consecutive game.
Cartagena finished the match with an impressive four tackles and eight ball recoveries (out of 11 attempted). He also covered a ton of ground against Chivas’ counter-attack.
Watch how Cartagena (the chasing player closest to the ball-carrier at the start of the GIF) covers open spaces so quickly. He just gets enough of the ball at the end of the sequence to allow the Veracruz defence to get back in position.
Cartagena repeated the feat on the run again, but connected with the sliding tackle on this occasion.
Once more, Cartagena’s ability to stop attackers in their tracks and dispossess them is pretty splendid.
There is definitely work to be done on the ball. But if Cartagena partners someone like Pedro Aquino or Yoshimar Yotún, who are strong distributors, then that could be a nice yin-yang partnership in midfield.
Sergio Peña earned his first Primeira Liga start at Tondela in their 2-2 draw with Aves. Like his substitute appearances, Peña mainly operated in a box-to-box role, though he spent most of his minutes in the defensive third.
I personally believe Peña is most effective in the attacking third because he’s a player who likes to dribble and pick apart opposing defences. He attempts too many passes between the lines, which is fine in some situations, but Tondela were pressed quite heavily in their own half.
Peña thrived in a more advanced role at Granada last season and it helped the club surge up the table. When they went through a coaching carousel and Peña’s role continually changed, the team suffered.
Tondela manager Pepa must recognize this quickly and allow Peña to push up more often.
Still adapting to life in Russia, Christian Cueva came off the bench for about 20 minutes as Krasnodar succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Spartak Moscow.
Unlike his previous appearances, Cueva was deployed on the left wing but was still allowed to drift inside.
The Peruvian made quite the impact right away. He immediately injected dynamism and creativity to the attack, as seen below.
The only issue was the lack of a reference point for Krasnodar. Cueva was unlocking Spartak’s defence repeatedly, yet Ari da Silva – sent off late in the game – failed to show for the ball.
It’s a shame because Cueva was very influential in his limited minutes. On the bright side, this may lead to an increase in playing time over the next few weeks.
Raúl Ruidíaz scored his second goal in five starts (he also has one assist) as the Seattle Sounders thumped the LA Galaxy 5-0.
Tell me if you’ve seen this before from Ruidíaz.
Compared to last week against FC Dallas, Ruidíaz was afforded tons of space. That’s partially due to the Galaxy’s woeful defence. Regardless, it was a positive to see the Peruvian receiving passes in and around the box.
If the Sounders continue to start Ruidíaz up front by himself, then they have to start playing a faster-paced game in order to open up space around the box. Otherwise, he’ll be pretty invisible.
After a major disappointment in the Canadian Championship final last Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps were able to nick a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
Yordy Reyna assisted Kendall Waston’s first of two goals on the night off a perfectly executed corner.
This game further proved that Reyna is best utilized as a second striker or a false nine. He consistently pushed up the pitch and became the pseudo No. 9. However, instead of darting into the box and shooting, Reyna was the provider.
Reyna set up Alphonso Davies on a couple of occasions, which was consistently the most threatening combination for the Whitecaps. That could be food for thought down the stretch as Vancouver pushes for the playoffs.
Not a surprise here, but Alexander Callens was sublime for New York City FC. He won four of his five duels, executed four tackles and completed 86 per cent of his 53 passes.
Unfortunately, Callens had to be substituted after 65 minutes. He was limping after the hour mark and was eventually hauled off, which led to the Philadelphia Union closing out the match with a 2-0 victory.
Callens will miss the derby against the New York Red Bulls this midweek as a result, so hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Pedro Aquino and León took on the red-hot Cruz Azul, only to suffer a 3-0 loss to open Saturday’s round of matches in Liga MX.
Even in defeat, this was probably Aquino’s strongest individual performance since joining León. He dictated the tempo of the match and quarterbacked the team in midfield.
Aquino completed 45 of 52 passes (86%), an astounding 14 ball recoveries, five tackles, three interceptions and drew four fouls, including this nasty-looking challenge. Gerardo Flores was subsequently sent off.
Other than that, it was a faultless performance from Aquino, who was León’s best player. He was spraying passes across the pitch without any hesitation. It was beautiful to watch.
After a slow start to the Apertura, Aquino appears to be fully settled into the side. This was the case with Lobos in 2017 as well, so hopefully he kicks on and dominates in Guanajuato.
Strangely, Anderson Santamaría has moved to the opposite of the defence with Puebla, operating as a right-sided centre-back as opposed to the left.
This isn’t ideal for Santamaría or Peru, as he’s the heir-apparent to Alberto Rodríguez as the left-sided centre-back. As for the player himself, now he has to adjust to a new role and he suffered in this game.
Santamaría conceded two penalties, but this was mainly due to Puebla playing with a high line. Regardless, after a great opening match, the Peruvian defender has been less than stellar in his last two appearances.
On the bright side, Santamaría’s distribution hasn’t suffered and he made a few vital interventions, including a goal-line clearance.
Let’s hope this is just a temporary dip in form and he acclimatizes to the new system.
Following a brief return to the false nine role at Lokomotiv Moscow, Jefferson Farfán was deployed as a free-roaming No. 10 this past weekend. It produced fairly strong results as Lokomotiv earned their first win of the season.
It took Farfán about 20 minutes to acclimatize to the pace of the match. Once he did, the Peruvian attacker tended to favour the left flank and it freed up the other forwards to pressure the back line.
Eventually, Farfán’s header produced a big rebound which was bundled in by Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Moments later, Farfán had a tremendous opportunity on the break. As I’ve previously stated, if this was 2009, he’s blowing past the defenders and burying this. A 33-year-old Farfán with his past injuries is a tad slower these days.
At least he’s still integral to the attack and has that acceleration.
Rayo Vallecano marked its return to La Liga with a thoroughly humiliating 4-1 defeat to Sevilla. Luis Advíncula debuted as a second-half substitute, logging around 14 minutes in the loss.
There is definitely still some adapting to do, as Advíncula kept Sevilla’s forwards onside for their fourth goal and was dispossessed in dangerous areas on a couple of occasions.
However, Advíncula recovered and completed some lovely combinations with his teammates in the closing moments of the game.
It will definitely take a few more weeks until we see Advíncula (and Rayo) at his best.
Surely Cristian Benavente caught the attention of clubs abroad after his performance on Sunday.
The Peruvian playmaker scored in Royal Charleroi’s 3-1 loss to Genk and had two more excellent chances to score as well.
The build-up to his goal, which Benavente was heavily involved in, was almost as lovely as the goal itself.
The Peruvian then tested the goalkeeper moments later before narrowly missing on a sliding attempt into the box.
In general, Benavente wasn’t too influential in the game, but he picked his moments wisely. For his sake, hopefully this is the start of a great run of form so he can catch Ricardo Gareca’s eye again.
After a rough start to the match, Luis Abram eventually calmed down and put forth a solid showing against Racing in a 2-0 defeat.
Racing were doing an excellent job of pressing Vélez’s defence and forcing them to commit turnovers. However, when the hosts had the ball in a dangerous area, Abram was quick to snuff out the danger.
What I love most about Abram is his newfound calmness under pressure when he’s in possession. Watch how he moves and distributes his way out of danger.
In total, Abram completed eight (!) interceptions, four ball recoveries, two tackles and 38 passes. Not bad considering Racing is one of the best clubs in Argentina at the moment.
Welcome to the Peruvians Abroad Roundup, Jean-Pierre Rhyner!
The 22-year-old Swiss-born defender was on Ricardo Gareca’s radar, but missed out on this squad due to some paperwork issues. He’ll surely be called into one of the following camps once his one-time switch of nationality is approved.
Rhyner is currently at Grasshoppers, where he’s a regular starter at centre-back. He is equally adept at left-back, although his primary position is in the middle of the defence.
Grasshoppers were in action this weekend in the Swiss Cup and defeated Buochs 2-0 with Rhyner playing the full 90 minutes.
Rhyner occasionally switched between centre-back and left-back in the match. He was comfortable in possession and has excellent positional discipline. Rhyner is a defender who is very strong on the ball, which will help his case if he’s ever called up.