With the third edition of the UEFA Nations League now here, it is a perfect time to look at what players in MLS have the best chance to make an impact in the Nations League.
With MLS gaining more international prominence and becoming bigger players on the international transfer market, we will see more and more prominent MLS players play for prominent national teams in the next few years and the 2022/2023 UEFA Nations League will be no different.
This iteration of the Nations League begins with group play which just started and will run roughly a year with the Nations League Finals being held on June 18, 2023. Teams are split into four “leagues” with multiple groups in each league. League A is the “best”/top league with League D being the “worst”/bottom.
The Nations League champion is crowned from League A with teams in the other leagues working to be promoted towards League A. Group Play games will take place in June (4 group games) and September (2 group games) of this year with every team playing a double round-robin with the teams in their group. Tournament play/promotion and relegation will go from there.
A number of MLS players play for European national teams
MLS players will be found all throughout the Nations League and throughout several of the Leagues, but here are the five who will make the biggest impact.
5. Midfielder Dániel Gazdag (Hungary/Philadelphia Union)
We have our only Hungarian player on the list in 25 year old Dániel Gazdag. Before this international break, Gazdag had appeared in ten matches for Hungary since making his debut in 2019, scoring three goals including two goals in a week for Hungary during World Cup Qualifications against Poland and San Marino back in November.
Gazdag signed with Philadelphia for reportedly roughly $2 million during the 2021 MLS season. In roughly a season since, he has become a key regular for the Union with eight goals across 30 appearances. He previously had a long career with Hungarian side Honvéd where he scored 22 goals across 175 matches. Gazdag is arguably playing the best soccer of his club career for a top of the MLS table-side in Philadelphia, so he is hoping that he can parlay that into a strong run with the Hungary national team.
It will be a difficult task for Hungary in Group A3 alongside Italy, England, and Germany. Hungary is currently ranked #40 in the FIFA Men’s Rankings and are matched up with 3 teams who are all in the top 12 in the world (according to the FIFA Rankings). While everyone wants to make a trip to the semifinals by winning the group, the most realistic goal for Hungary might be to just finish in the top 3 of the group and not get relegated to League B.
In order to remain in League A, Hungary will need Gazdag and 21 year old fellow MLS-er Szabolcs Schön to step up and play a big role for the squad in the coming months. Gazdag and Schön could be guys to watch long-term in terms of MLS players playing in UEFA competitions if they both stay in MLS for a while.