Major League Soccer played its first part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup as LAFC midfielder Jhegson Mendez went the full 90 minutes in Ecuador’s 2-0 win over Qatar.
Despite being unable to nail down a regular starting place with the MLS Cup champions since his mid-season move to Orlando City, Mendez remains favored at international level, starting in the middle alongside Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Real Valladolid’s Gonzalo Plata.
And Mendez shone in what was a comfortable night for the Ecuadorians, completing 75 of his 76 attempted passes (99%), creating two chances, and playing three passes into the final third. Defensively, Mendez chipped in with a tackle, an interception, and seven recoveries, though his numbers here were understandably low with La Tri dominating the ball.
Mendez was joined in midfield by LAFC teammate Jose Cifuentes, who replaced goalscorer Enner Valencia in the 77th minute, while former Charlotte FC midfielder Alan Franco also came into the game in the final moments.
LAFC left-back Diego Palacios and Seattle Sounders center-back Xavier Arreaga were unused substitutes for Ecuador, whose chances of progression from Group A have risen significantly following this straightforward victory.
MLS players will feature heavily on Monday as the United States Men’s National Team take on Wales following England vs Iran and Senegal vs Netherlands.
Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.