The five best Mexicans in MLS to watch in 2018

With the 2018 MLS season underway there is plenty of exciting action each week to keep you entertained. The league is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. More top-rated players are joining each season, highlighting an increasing desire to be involved in Major League Soccer. We’ve picked out the five best Mexicans in MLS to watch this season and what they bring to their side.

Carlos Vela – LAFC

The new boys for 2018, LAFC, picked up an impressive win in their first ever MLS outing away at Seattle. At the heart of that performance was Carlos Vela. Many Premier League fans will know of Vela from his time at Arsenal and brief spell at West Brom.

Although his time in England didn’t quite meet high expectations, the 29-year-old forward is a full international and has come to MLS off the back of the most consistent spell of his career. He is going to be one to watch this season.

Giovani Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Arguably one of the most naturally gifted players in MLS. Giovani Dos Santos is in his fourth season with LA Galaxy, having scored 23 goals in 64 games. He has played for the likes of FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Villarreal – so has plenty of experience to his name.

At 28 he has a lot to offer LA Galaxy, including the ability to change a game at any moment. Dos Santos plays in a number of attacking roles and will be hoping to spearhead his side to better fortunes this season after a disappointing 2017.

Jonathan Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Younger brother of Gio, Jonathan Dos Santos is also at LA Galaxy. He has made 29 appearances for the national team so far but fans haven’t yet seen his full potential in MLS as this will be his first full season.

The 27-year-old midfielder plays in a deeper role than his brother, but similarly can fit into a number of different roles.

Victor Ulloa – FC Dallas

The most experienced of the Mexicans in MLS in terms of appearances. Victor Ulloa has played 117 games since joining FC Dallas in 2011. A Homegrown player who has made a name for himself anchoring the Dallas midfield.

Although Ulloa isn’t always a guaranteed name on the team sheet, he is reliable and ready when called upon. At 26 he is yet to be called up for the Mexican side, but that is no reflection on his qualities.

Efrain Juarez – Vancouver Whitecaps

Signed from Monterrey using Targeted Allocation Money in January 2018, Efrain Juarez is a versatile option. He has played as a right back over the last few seasons, but is likely to be used as a central midfielder at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Juarez made his debut in the middle of the park in week one. Fans will hope his experience can help the Whitecaps go one step further this season to top the Western Conference.

Are these the five best Mexicans in MLS – who else should have made the cut?

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CONCACAF Cup Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: CONCACAF Cup – USA vs. Mexico

Venue: Rose Bowl, California – Saturday, October 10 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: USA 11/8 – Draw 23/10 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The USA and Mexico face off in the highly anticipated CONCACAF Cup on Saturday night as the international rivals will be facing off for a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

“This is one of the biggest soccer games to be played on North American soil since the 1994 World Cup,” CONCACAF acting General Secretary Ted Howard in a statement. He’s not wrong.

It’s set to be an absolute classic encounter between two teams that always play with full intensity and passion whenever they meet. They will play each other at the Rose Bowl in California where more than 90,000 fans are set to make the atmosphere as electric as the game itself in what is a sell-out.

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This is the first ever CONCACAF Cup match, which is a playoff game for the Confederations Cup in two years time, between the last two winners of the continent’s Gold Cup tournament. USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013 but the Mexicans were victorious at this summer’s tournament on US soil, so now a one-off game will be played to see who represents CONCACAF in Russia.

The USA finished a disappointing fourth at the Gold Cup this summer and Jurgen Klinsmann is now under intense pressure to ensure the Americans beat Mexico in California.

The USMNT have lost three of their last four games though and need to put in a much improved performance to have any chance of advancing past El Tri here.

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Mexico are unbeaten in their last ten outings and will be the more confident of the two sides ahead of Saturday’s battle.

Both sets of fans will remember the most recent meeting between the two sides at the Rose Bowl as Mexico rallied from 2-0 down to beat the USA 4-2 in the 2011 Gold Cup final, sealing their place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.

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The entire stadium was filled with Mexico fans four years ago but a lot more USA fans are expected to be in attendance and should guarantee an incredible atmosphere.

Recent history is on the USA’s side as they haven’t lost to Mexico in any of their last six encounters (W3 D3). The last time they lost to El Tri was at the Rose Bowl in that 2011 Gold Cup showdown.

Team News

Jurgen Klinsmann has called up his veterans for this game as the more big-game experience in the starting lineup the better. Tim Howard could start in goal for the first time since the 2014 World Cup if Brad Guzan is dropped. Jermaine Jones will hope to start in midfield with Michael Bradley, though Kyle Beckerman is also an option. In attack, Clint Dempsey will look to shine with Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes also available for selection.

Mexico have received a double boost ahead of the game as veteran defender Rafa Marquez and midfielder Andres Guardado have shaken off knocks and are expected to start. Other star names included in the squad are Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez but LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos is out as he picked up a knock in the Galaxy’s draw with Seattle last weekend.

Key Points

USA’s last five: W/L/L/W/L

Mexico’s last five: W/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: The USA currently have a six-game unbeaten streak going against Mexico – the longest run of games without losing to their rivals in history.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The USMNT midfield hero scored the opening goal at the Rose Bowl in the 2011 meeting and also netted in a 2-2 draw between the two last April. He loves these games and will look to fire the USA to victory.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – This is all set up to be one of the most memorable meetings ever between these fierce rivals. Both sides will be desperate to remain defensively solid but with so much attacking talent on display, goals look to be inevitable. If the USA fans can match the Mexicans for noise, then they stand a really good chance of edging this one. We’re going for a narrow USA victory, though don’t be surprised if they have to wait until extra-time or perhaps even penalties to earn that win.

Former Spurs and FC Barcelona star wanted by LA Galaxy

Former Tottenham Hotspur and FC Barcelona forward Giovani Dos Santos confirms LA Galaxy are interested in signing him and has praised Major League Soccer ahead of a potential switch stateside.

The Mexican international, currently at Spanish side Villarreal, is interested in a move to Major League Soccer, reported by mlssoccer.com.

“[The Galaxy are] a team that has always been after me and of course all the talks are just rumors and it’s something that’s been talked about for the past two years.

“In soccer you never know where you will end up. Up to this day I have a contract with Villarreal and I am currently 100 percent focused with the national team.”

Dos Santos has played alongside and against some of the best players in world football and is a very skilful individual.

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The 26-year-old Mexican further fuelled speculation of a move to Galaxy as he did little to quash the talk of the MLS Cup holders interest.

“Yes of course, it’s one of the teams that wants me, just like there’s other teams in Europe that also want me.

“And of course I can’t shut the doors to any team and as a soccer player you never know where you will end up tomorrow.”

Dos Santos is impressed with the growth of the league it isn’t surprised it is attracting the superstars who continue to make the move to MLS.

“Like I said, it’s a league that’s growing. The names speak for themselves. It’s players that are stars worldwide and it’s a league that wants to continue to grow. The few MLS games that I’ve been able to watch I think it’s a league that has grown a lot and it’s a league that we need to respect and a league that’s generating attention.”

Dos Santos would more than likely be signing as a Designated Player, assuming Omar Gonzalez would lose his DP role.

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New changes to roster rules have seen Targeted Allocation Money introduced to help sides accommodate top players who won’t necessarily qualify as designated players.

That could see Dos Santos sign on a non-DP deal for now, or Gonzalez’s contract ‘bought down’ immediately.

Would Dos Santos be a good signing for Galaxy?

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: International friendly – United States vs. Mexico

Venue: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – Wednesday, April 15 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: USA 13/10 – Draw 11/5 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team are back in action on Wednesday night after just two weeks as they take on fierce rivals Mexico less than 150 miles from the border in San Antonio, Texas.

Jurgen Klinsmann‘s side put in their best performance for a long time in their last game against Switzerland two weeks ago as they earned a solid 1-1 draw against the 12th-ranked side.

The latest FIFA rankings saw the USA move up five places to 27th, while Mexico went up three places to 18th and Wednesday’s nights game should be another fiery one, even though it will be played outside of a designated international window.

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That means that both sides will be without several key players as the majority of European-based stars will not make the trip across to play the game.

Mexico have not beaten the USA in their last five meetings but they have been in fine form since the World Cup, winning six of eight games and have won their last two games 1-0.

The USMNT have only won two of nine games since the World Cup last summer and although things weren’t looking too promising, the 1-1 draw with Switzerland last time out will fill fans with optimism heading into this one.

Klinsmann continues to experiment with his squad and has called up 14 MLS players for this one, with DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green the only players travelling over from Europe with Tottenham and Hamburg respectively.

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Four members of the squad play their football in Liga MX and that will add some more spice to what should be another thrilling encounter.

Their latest meeting ended 2-2 in Arizona last April as Michael Bradley and Chris Wondolowski both netted the goals.

The two USMNT veterans are both in the squad again this time and will hope to continue to guide the younger players through.

Team News

Klinsmann has only called up nine players from last summer’s World Cup as he continues to experiment, but he will likely field his strongest lineup as victory in this one is important. Michael Bradley played in the No. 10 role against Switzerland and could continue there, while Gyasi Zardes could partner Juan Agudelo in attack as Jozy Altidore is suspended. Agudelo has received his first call up in over a year and will want to make his mark.

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Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera has called up a relatively inexperienced side for the game but striker, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres will hope to impress. The 22-year-old forward will join up with the Houston Dynamo in the summer and he will be pushing for a start in the absence of Javier Hernandez.

Key Points

USA’s last five: L/L/W/L/D

Mexico’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Mexico have not beaten the USA in five attempts and their last win came during the Gold Cup in June 2011.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The Toronto FC midfielder is the most experienced on the USA roster and is likely to captain the team once again. He has four goals against Mexico to date and will want to add to that.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – If the USMNT can build on their performance against Switzerland they will be in a strong position to win this. Their recent record against Mexico is good and with the game on home turf, Klinsmann will hope to seal an important win as the Gold Cup draws closer.

REVEALED: The highest MLS salaries eclipse those seen in Liga MX

Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX will long be battling for the tag of the best domestic league in the CONCACAF and if player salaries are anything to go by, MLS is winning the battle.

Liga MX has long been considered the superior league, in terms of player quality and business, as well as the fact that the league has seemed to attract the ‘big’ names ahead of MLS in recent years.

But that is changing and changing fast. MLS is growing at an unprecedented level and the 2015 season will be the league’s biggest and best ever as 20 teams will take part for the first time ever and international stars such as Kaka, David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco will grace the league with their quality.

If player salaries are anything to go by, the MLS is now the superior domestic league in the CONCACAF as a list of the top ten highest paid players in Liga MX has been released by Forbes Mexico:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
 Roque Santa Cruz  Cruz Azul  2.6 million USD
 Oribe Peralta  Club America  2.5 million USD
 Darwin Quintero  Club America 1.8 million USD
 Ronaldinho  Queretaro  1.8 million USD
 Angel Reyna  Chivas  1.7 million USD
 Jesus Corona Cruz Azul 1.5million USD
 Marco Fabian  Chivas  1.5 million USD
 Paulo da Silva  Toluca  1.2 million USD
 Dorlan Pabon  Monterrey  1.2 million USD
Mauro Boselli Leon  1.1 million USD

Roque Santa Cruz is the highest paid player in Liga MX, earning 2.6 million dollars annually but that is just a fraction of what Major League Soccer’s highest paid player Sebastian Giovinco is set to earn in 2015 following his move from Juventus this winter.

Giovinco is expected to earn around $7 million in his debut campaign in MLS while fellow newcomer Kaka is set to earn $6.6 million as a base salary.

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Below is a list of MLS players anticipated salaries for 2015. Most are according to the MLS Players’ Union while the salary of Steven Gerrard is based on reported figures. Frank Lampard’s projected salary with New York City FC has not been revealed, though he would likely make the top ten in earnings this year.

It is clear to see that the best players in MLS are earning significantly more than those in Liga MX as a base salary:

 Player  Club  Annual Base Salary
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC  7.0 million USD
 Kaka  Orlando City SC  6.6 million USD
 David Villa New York City FC 6.0 million USD
 Michael Bradley Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
 Jozy Altidore Toronto FC  6.0 million USD
Clint Dempsey Seattle Sounders 4.9 million USD
Robbie Keane LA Galaxy  4.5 million USD
Steven Gerrard LA Galaxy 4.0 million USD
Jermaine Jones New England Revolution  3.0 million USD
Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders  1.6 million USD

It says a lot that the ninth-highest paid player in MLS, Jermaine Jones would be the highest paid player in Liga MX with his base salary of around $3 million per year.

The Designated Player rule in the United States means a small fraction of players can earn the huge wages seen above, but Liga MX players still earn better salaries on average league-wide.

A report last November revealed players in Mexico would earn an average of $410,139 per season compared to $209,906 per year in MLS on average.

On the field, an MLS side has yet to win the CONCACAF Champions League since the tournament’s inception in 2009.

A Liga MX club has won each year since then, with Monterrey the most successful team with three Champions League titles in six years.

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Real Salt Lake came closest when they reached the final in 2011 but ultimately lost to Monterrey on that occasion.

Things could now be swinging in the favour of MLS though as the rapidly growing league continues to rise on and off the field.

Which league would you class as the best – MLS or Liga MX?