Featured Image: Marca
As we draw closer to the start of more European leagues, there are still several Peruvians abroad in action across the planet.
Jefferson Farfán and Christian Cueva were on fire in the Russian Premier League this weekend, while a few Peruvians in the Americas shined.
Here is your weekly in-depth roundup on Peruvians abroad.
Make it two goals in as many weeks for Ray Sandoval.
The Peruvian was on the scoresheet for Monarcas Morelia in a 2-2 draw with fellow countrymen Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena and Veracruz. Sandoval has now started all three matches to begin the Apertura and has clearly carried his end-of-Clausura form into the new campaign.
Sandoval finished the match with 30 passes (with a completion rate of 85 per cent), more than any other Monarcas attacker. He added two dribbles and 11 duels, which were among the highest out of all players on the pitch.
Two of the biggest changes in Sandoval’s game have been his bravery and anticipation. Both can be seen in the clip below when the winger pounces on a loose ball before setting up Diego Valdés in open space.
Sandoval’s first touch and composure under pressure have also grown tremendously. Just watch the following sequence as a reference.
Long may this continue for Sandoval’s sake.
It’s quite obvious that there is a Raúl Ruidíaz-sized hole in Monarcas’ attack. Irven Ávila is a fine forward if he’s placed in the right system but that doesn’t appear to be the case in Michoacán.
Since moving to Liga MX, Ávila has become a second striker who works hard off the ball to open up space for the rest of the attack. But without a strike partner with him, he’s not as effective.
The flick-ons don’t come off, the passing combinations aren’t there and Ávila ends up being surrounded by multiple defenders. Diego Valdés is a great playmaker, but that pairing just doesn’t gel.
Monarcas have a tough stretch of matches beginning at the end of the month, so Roberto Hernández needs answers, and fast.
It’s nearly the end of the transfer window, so it’s probably safe to assume that Pedro Gallese will be staying at Veracruz until January, at least.
In terms of his performance against Monarcas, he was solid enough. Neither of the goals were Gallese’s fault, and he executed a couple of clutch saves during the match, including this one.
However, just like Monarcas and their Ruidíaz void, the same can be said about Veracruz and Christian Ramos. The defence is a mess for los Tiburones Rojos and it probably won’t improve.
If possible, Gallese would benefit by moving abroad. The Besiktas option is still available as Fabri has officially departed the club.
Wilder Cartagena made his league debut for Veracruz on Friday and was decent, although he found himself behind the 8-ball early in the match.
Cartagena picked up a valid booking after just eight minutes, so he had little room for error the rest of the way. The midfielder was substituted at halftime after logging 90 minutes in Copa MX action in midweek.
Even in his limited time, Cartagena delivered a solid defensive performance. He snuffed out the danger quickly and effectively, completing a few crucial interventions in the first half.
Passing and general composure on the ball are still two weaker areas of Cartagena’s skill set. It has slightly improved since he jumped to Liga MX from Universidad San Martín, but it definitely needs work.
Hopefully this is the season when Cartagena becomes more well-rounded as a footballer.
Since he only arrived in Russia late last month, Christian Cueva is still building match fitness. He only logged around 10 minutes off the bench in Krasnodar’s 2-1 victory over FC Ural.
Mauricio Pereyra, who is the current No. 10 for Krasnodar, has been solid in the opening two games, so Cueva will have some competition. That could serve him well, though, especially with the Europa League beginning next month. There will be ample chances to impress.
Lokomotiv Moscow and Spartak Moscow settled for a scoreless draw with Jefferson Farfán deployed as a false nine.
As he’s often done, Farfán drifted to the left throughout the game but ensured that he maintained his role as a reference point up front.
Farfán was a tad sluggish to begin the game, but that was short-lived. The Peruvian attacker dropped a bit deeper to help connect some passing combinations to slice through Spartak’s defence, and boy, was that effective.
Eventually, Farfán returned to the left wing and managed to win a couple of fouls in promising areas.
It’s clear that Farfán can no longer rely on his explosive pace due to the rampant knee injuries earlier in his career. But what he lacks in acceleration, Farfán is able to utilize his strength and vision in order to outsmart defences, as seen in the earlier passing sequence.
However, credit Spartak’s defence because they were able to close down space quickly whenever Lokomotiv countered.
Case in point:
Yoshimar Yotún was Orlando City’s best player this past weekend. Again.
The Peruvian midfield maestro had two assists in Orlando’s wild 3-3 draw with the New England Revolution. Yotún was also sent off late in the game for allegedly shoving a Revolution player in the face.
The call is debatable, but the previous 94 minutes were majestic to watch. The pair of assists couldn’t have been more perfect.
If Orlando City fails to qualify for the MLS playoffs, then Yotún’s contract situation will be worth monitoring. His current deal expires in December, and he is one of the club’s designated players. His value is very high, and surely another MLS team would be willing to acquire Yotún at season’s end if he chooses to leave Orlando.
Of course, this is just pure speculation but he can definitely join a more stable team in the off-season, no matter the price. Someone in MLS would be willing to pay. If not, perhaps another club from abroad would welcome him with open arms.
Raúl Ruidíaz joined the Seattle Sounders and was supposed to be in pre-season form, considering he barely played at the World Cup and the Liga MX campaign ended in May.
However, in just three games, Ruidíaz has been a true game-changer for the Sounders.
The Peruvian striker had a goal taken away from him after a marginal offside call, but he made up for it with an assist to help the Sounders top Minnesota United 2-1 on the road.
It was imperative for the Sounders to deploy Ruidíaz as a poacher, and that’s exactly what has occurred. He’s lurking around the penalty area, waiting for the through ball or cross, and pouncing immediately. Just look at the offside goal as an example.
What’s surprising is Ruidíaz still isn’t fully fit. Once he’s hit the optimal level, MLS defences should be very afraid.
After missing Minnesota United’s last match due to a minor injury, Alexi Gómez was back in the lineup to face Ruidíaz and the Sounders.
Gómez managed to finish the 90 minutes, in his regular spot at left wingback, where he’s had his up’s and down’s.
Defensively, Gómez is improving gradually, especially his anticipation. This tackle on his countryman Ruidíaz was brilliantly executed. Precise, well-timed and totally clean.
Going forward, Gómez remains a dynamic dribbler and effective crosser. His positioning is one area of weakness, specifically when he has to defend on the run. Most wingbacks aren’t the most disciplined defenders, so that may not be a glaring concern, especially with Francisco Calvo next to him.
I guess Giovanni Savarese listened to me because Andy Polo started in midfield for the Portland Timbers in their victory over the Philadelphia Union.
However, this performance wasn’t as strong as last week’s.
The Union pressed Polo almost immediately after he received the ball and he hesitated with his decision-making. Eventually, he opted to play if safe, which isn’t a negative, especially when trying to evade a high-pressing team.
Regardless, Polo needs that awareness and incisiveness. He won’t have the luxury of facing more conservative sides every week.
Yordy Reyna was a late substitute, although he was on the pitch to help the Vancouver Whitecaps salvage a 2-2 draw in the Bronx with New York City FC.
He and a few other players were rested ahead of the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday versus Toronto FC. Expect Reyna to start at BC Place for that one.
This was a strange match for Alexander Callens. His passing numbers were down, yet he was able to freely roam into the attacking half of the pitch without any resistance.
Vancouver sitting deep certainly affected Callens’s ability to penetrate the lines with his passing. But even defensively, Callens was uncharacteristically sloppy. The NYCFC defence allowed Nicolás Mezquida to rush in, unchallenged, and shoot from distance into the bottom corner for the opening goal of the match.
Chalk it down as “one of those days” because Callens is usually a top-drawer defender. NYCFC is also coming off a brutal cross-country trip, so maybe fatigue set in for the Peruvian and the rest of the squad.
There were some rumours that Anderson Santamaría would leave Puebla before the start of the Apertura. That hasn’t occurred (yet) so he was able to make his season debut over the weekend.
Defensively, Santamaría was a monster. He had three interceptions, seven tackles and eight duels won in the 2-0 defeat to 2018 Clausura champions Santos Laguna.
However, it was Santamaría’s efforts on the ball that were most notable. He actually spent more time near the middle third than around the penalty area.
Santamaría completed 38 passes, most of which were classified as “progressive,” or any pass that involves advancing the ball at least 10 yards.
Distribution has become a real weapon for the Peruvian centre-back since he joined Puebla. Having a centre-back who is comfortable on the ball will be handy for the next World Cup cycle because Peru favours a possession-based system.