2021 MLS Best XI using Euro 2020 and Copa America 2021 Finalist Nations

New England Revolution, Gustavo Bou (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New England Revolution, Gustavo Bou (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Even for diehard Major League Soccer fans, it would be understandable if this league took a backseat in the last few weeks given the presence of Euro 2020 and Copa America 2021. With all due respect to the CONCACAF Nations League, these competitions are at another level. Both international competitions are set to have their finals this weekend, pitting rivals Brazil versus  Argentina on Saturday and Italy against England on Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the best players in MLS this season that will be particularly interested in the outcome of at least one of those finals, constructing a lineup using only Argentine, Brazilian, and English players (since unfortunately there are no Italian players in this league) currently competing in North America’s highest level competition.

Goalkeeper: Carlos Coronel (New York Red Bulls/Brazil)

The 23 year old on loan from Red Bull Salzburg just edged out Jonathan Bond having 2 more clean sheets than the Englishman from LA Galaxy. Carlos Coronel has come up with some big saves, with a point-blank stop on Daryl Dike in the 2-1 victory over Orlando City among the best of them. Gerhard Struber will be considering his options regarding the ability to extent the Brazilian’s loan or maybe even make it a permanent transfer.

Right Back: Auro (Toronto FC/Brazil)

Although the 25 year old arrived just after Toronto’s MLS Cup victory on loan from Brazilian giant Sao Paulo in 2018, the Canadian club will be happy they made his loan permanent the following year. With 52 appearances for Toronto FC, Auro will look to keep their newfound good performances going following an impressive victory over New England.

Center Back: Antonio Carlos (Orlando City/Brazil)

The 28 year old makes it 3 Brazilians in a row, with his presence at the back a key reason why the Lions are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference. His interceptions, clearances, and aerial duels won put him among the top center backs in the league. Even in Orlando’s big wins where they score as many as five goals, Antonio Carlos can get the job done and keep a clean sheet.

Center Back: Jack Elliott (Philadelphia Union/England)

Although Jack Elliott played college soccer in West Virginia, the 25-year-old was born in London where he briefly played in the Fulham academy (looks like “Fulhamerica” works both ways). Philadelphia Union has gotten the best out of many of its defenders over the last few seasons, and now Elliott is part of a solid center back partnership with Jakob Glesnes.

Left Back: Claudio Bravo (Portland Timbers/Argentina)

It hasn’t been an easy first season for the 23 year old Banfield academy product, with no Timbers goalkeeper making more than 4 appearances so far this season. Despite that inconsistent situation, Claudio Bravo’s individual consistency has been rewarded earning the second most minutes played of any Portland player behind Dario Zuparic. He’s also one of two MLS based players on Argentina’s Olympic roster.

Center Midfielder: Joao Paulo (Seattle Sounders/Brazil)

The best team in MLS this season doesn’t go without an inclusion. In comes Joao Paulo, a 31 year old DP loaned from Botafogo whose signing was made permanent this year. Joao Paulo already has accumulated 32 regular season appearances for the Sounders and his role has only increased following the depature of Gustav Svensson and injury to Nicolas Lodeiro.

Center Midfielder: Judson (San Jose Earthquakes/Brazil)

While San Jose Earthquakes collectively aren’t having a great season so far in 2021, the blame doesn’t fall on Judson. The 28 year old was signed from Serie C Brazilian club Tombense, so his metamorphosis into a frequent starter at the MLS level makes him one of the better signings during Matías Almeyda’s tenure as Quakes manager. Judson does the dirty work on defense while pressing higher up the pitch, showcasing his engine that rarely runs out of gas. This allows players like Jackson Yueill to express themselves further up the field.

Right Winger: Franco Fragapane (Minnesota United/Argentina)

While his countrymen Emanuel Reynoso was the hero for Minnesota in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs and Ramon Avila scored an important goal against the San Jose Earthquakes, Franco Fragapane has been a gamechanger since his signing this past May. The 28 years old from Talleres has five goal contributions (two goals and three assists) in as many starts for the Loons. Fragapane has helped Minnesota United pick up their form after a concerning start to the season.

Center Attacking Midfielder: Maxi Moralez (New York City/Argentina)

At 34 years old, Maxi Moralez is the oldest member of this lineup, an exception to MLS’s recent trend of signing younger players from South America. He remains one of New York City’s most important players, as his skill and experience gets the best out of his teammates such as Keaton Parks and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Left Winger: Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United/Argentina)

Now 22 years old, Barco broke through in 2016 at the age of 17 at his boyhood club Independiente. He immediately caught the world’s attention in South America, and subsequently shocked everyone when he signed for Atlanta United in 2018. Though Ezequiel Barco has won a Copa Sudamericana, MLS Cup, and a U.S. Open Cup, inconsistency and injuries have hindered his development at times. Despite those obstacles, he joins Bravo in the Argentina olympic roster following a hard fought draw against Nashville.

Striker: Gustavo Bou (New England Revolution/Argentina)

The 31 year old forward has reaped the rewards of league leading assister Carles Gil while shining in his own merit. With 10 goals in 11 games, Gustavo Bou is perhaps still underrated by some within discussions of the best forwards in Major League Soccer, given the exploits of players such as Raul Ruidiaz and Javier Hernandez. Nevertheless, Bou is a big reason why Revs fans are optimistic that this current core in New England can contend for the MLS Cup.

There’s your XI of players whose nationalities are represented in the finals of either the Copa America or Euro 2020. It worked out nicely with 5 Brazilians, 5 Argentines, and an Englishman to balance out the South Americans. It was not meant to be that way, nor was it meant to have just one player max from each club involved. Had this lineup been attempted in a different era of Major League Soccer, there may have been more European representation. Did I miss anyone that should’ve been included? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @IvanOrnelas2.