MLS at AFCON 2017 first leg roundup


AFCON 2017 kicked off this weekend with a hint of MLS added to it.

While many MLS supporters were examining their SuperDraft picks from Friday and the hot stove rumors on the internet Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, and Montreal Impact supporters had the chance to actually watch some of their players play real matches.

With the 2017 African Cup of Nations kicking off this weekend in Gabon so too did the 2017 MLS season for some. Although play at times was a bit difficult there were certainly moments for those watching in North America to enjoy.

So without further adieu here is a short recap for how MLS players are doing at AFCON 2017.

MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact
MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact /

Ambroise Oyongo(Montreal Impact:) 90 minutes in Cameroon’s 1-1 draw with Burkina Faso

The Montreal Impact center-back put in a solid shift on Saturday in Cameroon’s 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso. Using his strength and good technical abilities Oyongo kept Bertrand Traore at bay for most of the match. The Indomitable Lions took the lead early thanks to a splendid free kick from Benjamin Moukandijo and appeared to have Burkina’s number on the counter-attack. But a late gaffe from Cameroon goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa gave The Stallions a late point.

Although Cameroon will look upon the 1-1 draw as points lost all hope is not lost for the African giants. With Guinea-Bissau and hosts Gabon tying 1-1 in the first match as well all four sides are level after one match. But Oyongo and Cameroon would be wise not to overlook Guinea-Bissau who they will meet at the Stade de L’Amitie in Libreville on Friday. Although Bissau are still minnows in international they did defeat several strong regional sides to qualify for this tournament including the Congo and Zambia.

Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC:)  Afful 90 minutes, Mensah DNP in  Ghana’s 1-0 win over Uganda

Despite coming off a strong campaign with Crew SC last season, Afful struggled on Tuesday night in Port-Gentil. Although he had a couple of nice clears in the second half to preserve the Black Stars 1-0 advantage, Uganda used their speed to torment Afful. In particular midfielder Joseph Ochaya, who plays his club football in Uganda with Kampala Capital City FC, provided several goal-scoring opportunities for The Cranes at Afful’s expense.

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What will be interesting to see is if Ghana’s difficulty at closing in on attackers from the outside will lead to Mensah getting some minutes in their upcoming match against Mali. Despite Ghana earning three points in this match their inability to convert on goal-scoring chances and the injury to Baba Rahman may force manager Avram Grant to make some changes.

Michael Azira (Colorado Rapids:) 45 minutes in Uganda’s 1-0 loss against Ghana

Despite having made just two appearances for the Cranes prior to Tuesday night’s clash against Ghana, Azira showed the same patience and defensive tenacity that made him a fan favorite for the Colorado Rapids. Against a very dangerous Black Stars attack Azira helped minimize the attacking chances that goalkeeper Denis Onyango had to face.

The 1-0 result is still a loss for Uganda. But considering their number of attacking chances and the defensive effort against a difficult opponent coach Milutin Sredjovic should be encouraged that Azira and Uganda can get a result against Egypt on Saturday.