There is more of a sabor peruano — Peruvian flavor — in MLS right now than in any other time in the league’s history, and there are no signs of that changing any time soon.
Two more Peruvians joined MLS last week, as national team starters Edison Flores and Pedro Gallese signed notable deals with D.C. United and Orlando City, respectively. Their arrivals raised the amount of players from Peru currently in MLS to seven, joining compatriots Raul Ruidiaz, Andy Polo, Yordy Reyna, Alexander Callens, and Marcos Lopez.
Never before has MLS had so many Peruvians in the league at once, and there is a strong chance that figure continues to rise in the near future. Teams have found good value in Peruvian players in recent years, both because of their silky skills with the ball and relatively low market prices, and that will always be an attractive option in a league based on parity and ruled by a salary cap.
Here are five other Peruvians, many of which have already been linked with moves to MLS, that teams in the league could realistically consider signing before the start of the 2020 season:
Christian Cueva, attacking midfielder
Cueva was one of the chief protagonists in Peru’s successful World Cup Qualifying campaign last cycle, but the 28-year-old playmaker has fallen on hard times since his participation in Russia 2018. Cueva has not only found minutes hard to come by at the club level, but has had a number of off-the-field incidents cast a dark cloud over his career.
As such, the diminutive but skillful veteran (that years ago was linked with a move to Orlando City) is badly in need of a change of scenery. He is on loan currently at Brazilian side Santos from Russian outfit Krasnodar, but neither club is all that keen on keeping him. Cuevita would probably still not come cheap, but any MLS team searching for an attacking midfielder may want to take the gamble and hope the relative anonymity that comes with living in the United States or Canada can help him regain focus on his career.
After all, how many players in the league have the quality and inventiveness to do something like this?
Carlos Zambrano, centerback
Currently in search of a club that can provide his career some much-needed stability and playing time, Zambrano would be a solid fit for any team that is in need of a tough and experienced central defender that can help lead a back line. El Leon (the lion) has not had much playing time over the past two years, but it speaks to his abilities that that did not stop him from being used as a starter in Peru’s surprising run to the final in last year’s Copa America.
The knock on Zambrano, who has held talks with the LA Galaxy this winter, is that he is sometimes a bit too temperamental or rough with his play. While that may be true, he is still a capable defender with German Bundesliga experience. Throw in the fact that he is just 30-years old and he seems a player worth taking a chance on, though an agreement of some sort would have to be made with Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev in order for him to sign in MLS.
Kevin Quevedo, striker/winger
Young, exciting, and available on a free.
Quevedo, 22, is one of the hottest up-and-coming talents in Peruvian soccer, and is allegedly no stranger to considering a move to MLS. He was reportedly a target of New York City FC and Minnesota United in December 2018, and was again rumored this past November to be joining the league via a free transfer.
Quevedo has not yet signed with anyone, however, and actually got himself into a situation last month that did not help his stock. The young attacker, whose best position is still unclear, was removed from Peru’s Under-23 Men’s National Team for disciplinary reasons. Now, interest in Quevedo has cooled a bit. Nonetheless, any MLS side in the market for a promising winger or striker to help groom could do worse than Quevedo.
Paolo Hurtado, midfielder
The Seattle Sounders came close to landing Hurtado’s signature back in summer 2018. The Chicago Fire were said to be interested around that time, too. More recently, D.C. United and Orlando City have considered landing the versatile midfielder.
Clearly, El Caballito (the little horse) is a hot commodity among MLS circles and with good reason. A veteran capable of playing on either wing or in the No. 10 spot, Hurtado has both the quality and experience to come into a team and make an immediate impact in an attacking position. He has not been playing much for Turkish side Konyaspor this season due to injury — the club is reportedly ready to part ways — and that might make a move to MLS as appealing as ever to the 29-year old.
Beto Da Silva, striker/winger
If you were to look at Da Silva’s career stops to date, you would think you are looking at the resume of a grizzled veteran. Among other teams, Da Silva has represented PSV Eindhoven, Gremio, Argentinos Juniors, Tigres UANL, and most recently Deportivo La Coruña.
He is far from being an established pro, however, and is instead just a 23-year-old journeyman desperately looking for stability and regular minutes. Da Silva can play both out wide and up top, which gives him versatility that adds to his intrigue as an attacking weapon, and maybe a move to MLS is just what he needs in order to find a long-term home that can help him carve out a more respectable career.