Excitement continues to build as the Copa America Centenario gets set for kick off in the United States, but the 45th edition of the competition won’t be the only major tournament leaving MLS teams shorthanded.
With some of MLS’ biggest stars away on international duty, teams must figure out how to make due until the international break.
A total of 39 players will be away representing their respective nations over the coming weeks, leaving several players the burden of stepping up in their absence.
Here are five players that will likely see an increased role with their MLS sides:
EMANUEL BOATENG (LA GALAXY)
While Giovani Dos Santos declined an opportunity to play for Mexico at Copa America, the LA Galaxy will be left with two key attackers out the mix, with Gyasi Zardes on U.S. Men’s National Team duty and Robbie Keane away at Euro 2016 with Ireland. Boateng has featured in seven matches this season for the Western Conference power, but his lone goal and two assists came over a month ago. The 22-year-old has plenty of pace to give opponents a difficult time, and he’ll likely get his opportunity against the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
VICTOR CABRERA (MONTREAL IMPACT)
Laurent Ciman’s inclusion in Belgium’s Euro squad leaves the center of the Impact backline exposed. The Belgian has started in all 12 matches this season for the Canadian side and his absence leaves the Impact without their best defensive option. While Cabrera has figured into the team’s starting XI more often than not this season, his presence will be key in tests against the Galaxy and Toronto FC in the coming days, especially with Ambroise Oyongo and Johan Venegas also away on international duty.
DILLON POWERS (COLORADO RAPIDS)
Now in his fourth season with the Colorado Rapids, Powers hasn’t had the ideal season thus far despite his team’s great success. The signing of Jermaine Jones has left Powers as a mere option off of the bench for much of the 2016 campaign, but Jones’ absence at Copa America could give the 25-year-old a needed lift. Powers has previously served as captain for the Rapids, albeit during a time where the team was in a completely different place, and now he must prove his worth this weekend vs. the Philadelphia Union.
JOHN MCCARTHY (PHILADELPHIA UNION)
Union goalkeeper Andre Blake has been nothing short of spectacular this season for the Eastern Conference leaders. The 25-year-old is tied for fifth in MLS in saves (38), while only conceding 13 goals through 12 matches. With Blake playing for Jamaica at Copa America, John McCarthy should be the man in net for the Union. While he likely isn’t the long-term solution for the Union, especially given Blake’s brilliance this season, McCarthy must hold strong as the last line of defense until the Jamaican returns.
QUINCY AMARIKWA (SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES)
It was always going to be difficult to replace Chris Wondolowski, who will be away with the USMNT, but the Earthquakes will be the team most affected by this summer’s competitions. In total, five Earthquakes will miss time for the Western Conference side. That’s where Amarikwa comes in. Between Wondolowski, Alberto Quintero and Simon Dawkins, the Earthquakes have received 11 goals this season from the trio. Amarikwa will have to pick up the slack in front of goal, which is certainly possible if he puts his mind to it. The goal he scored against the Portland Timbers back in March is a likely Goal of the Year candidate, but he’ll need some more of that over the coming weeks.
Which players do you believe need to step up in MLS ahead of the international break?
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