The 2022 edition of the U20 Copa Libertadores was surprisingly won by Uruguayan giants Peñarol after they beat the hosts, Independiente del Valle, in the final. In this article, you will find my full coverage of the Copa Libertadores under 20. I will give a very short breakdown of the playing style of the player before mentioning what I think, at this point, his potential is. Please note that a youth tournament like the Copa Libertadores under 20 is a good tournament to get a first impression on many players but that this is not fully representative of a player’s potential. They often have not played a lot of matches with each other and it can happen that a player is in form or out of form throughout the tournament. I tried to look at each player’s potential instead of performance and focus on certain aspects like a player’s athletic, technical and physical ability.
I am making a prediction of every player’s potential based on these matches and will ‘scout’ them more intensively after this tournament, especially the players that stood out for me. Every player that is covered in this article has been watched at least twice and preferably three times. I was not quite able to keep up with watching two matches a day, which is why I decided to do it like this. I think it’s doable to get a good view of a player’s technical, physical and athletic ability after one or two games already. Last but not least, I want to address that this article was fully made by me and Felipe’s match reports about this tournament have not been taken into account.
I did not make match reports on every player that I made notes on. Especially later on in the tournament, I did not write up my notes about each player as it mostly consisted of exactly the same content as the match before. I did not cover Sporting Cristal, Universidad de Concepcion and Newell’s Old Boys enough to include their players. As mentioned before, all players with good potential will be watched more often this season.
Lenín Ayoví – LDU Quito – 01/06/2002 (19)
Lenin Ayovi was LDU Quito’s first goalkeeper in this tournament. The Ecuadorian goalkeeper played all three matches, got one clean sheet, conceded four goals and saved two penalties (one of which he actually stopped himself). Standing at around 190cm with a slim build, the goalkeeper looked explosive coming off his line. This helped him to prevent the opponent from scoring in a 1v1 situation. Ayoví has good agility and reacts quickly to shots from close range. When dealing with crosses, Ayoví also claimed the ball confidently and looked really composed. It happened occasionally that Ayoví was not standing still at the moment of the shot, which made it difficult for him to save the ball as he could not react immediately. As LDU Quito liked to build out from the back, Lenín Ayoví saw a lot of the ball in this tournament. He had accurate passing, showing good technique over short and long distances. Overall, it was quite a good performance by Lenín Ayoví in this tournament. He has the athletic and technical ability to do well for LDU Quito in the future and I think he might become an interesting player for the Ecuadorian national team in the future.
Kleber Pinargote – Independiente del Valle – 27/04/2003 (18)
Kleber Pinargote was Independiente del Valle’s second-choice goalkeeper, but he played two matches for the runner-ups in this tournament. Standing at approximately 188cm with a toned build, Pinargote looked quick on the first meters and had quick reactions. He seemed quite athletic and looked really composed and dominant. The right-footed goalkeeper has a very good passing technique, as you would expect from an Independiente del Valle goalkeeper. He often operated as a third central defender in possession. This created a numerical superiority in the first phase of the build-up and was really important in Independiente del Valle’s playing style. He made one big mistake against Guarani which nearly led to a goal for the Paraguayans after he lost the ball in his own box. Pinargote did not have to make many saves. Based on his physical, athletic and technical ability I think he has some potential, but I need to watch more of Pinargote to determine his goalkeeping ability.
Randall Rodriguez – Peñarol – 29/11/2003 (18)
Randall Rodriguez was Peñarol’s first-choice goalkeeper and their hero in the final of the Copa Libertadores U20, saving two of Independiente del Valle’s penalties to claim the win. The right-footed goalkeeper stands at approximately 188cm and has a muscular build. The Uruguayan liked to come off his line, often being quite far from his own goal when the opponents are building out from the back. This led to a few attempts from long range from Peñarol’s opponents with none of them leading to any danger. Rodriguez did not seem like the most athletic goalkeeper, but nevertheless, he showed some good reflexes in the 1v1s. The Uruguayan gave away a penalty after being too reckless in a duel with LDU Quito’s Mathias Solis but saved that penalty proving to be a notorious penalty killer. Rodriguez had safe hands when dealing with shots from long range. His technical ability was average, his distribution was not great but that was not a problem for Peñarol as he was mostly tasked to clear the ball, instead of building out from the back. I think that Randall Rodriguez will become a good goalkeeper in South America but as there are plenty of good goalkeepers in Europe, I don’t think a European club will pick him up.
Orlando Herrera – Independiente del Valle – 23/01/2004 (18)
Orlando Herrera was Independiente del Valle’s first-choice right-back in this tournament. He managed to provide one assist in five matches for the Ecuadorians. Herrera showed talent in the technical aspect, while also showing some potential in the athletic and physical aspects. Standing at around 175cm with a slim build, Herrera was not that strong physically in the ground duels and he did not seem that smart in the ground duels, giving away a lot of needless fouls. The Ecuadorian showed good acceleration and was capable of maintaining that speed over longer distances. He had good changes of directions and seemed quite agile, but when trying to turn quickly away from his opponent with his face towards his own goal he seemed less quick, but this seemed like a technical flaw. Herrera moved very fluidly and liked to play one-twos in the small spaces. He had a good positional play and looked intelligent. The Ecuadorian liked to put in crosses from deeper areas and usually picked out the right pass, also showing a good crossing technique to find his teammate. In the future, it will be interesting to see how he will perform defensively against senior opponents. However, it is clear that he fits the description of an Independiente del Valle right-back and suits the playing style of similar types of teams. He needs to improve on his upper body strength as he needs to be stronger in the ground duels. I think he could be an interesting target for Belgian clubs that have a team in the second division next season. Here, he could possibly develop himself to establish himself as an interesting player for La Liga sides.
Samuel Bello – Millonarios – 28/01/2005 (17)
Samuel Bello was Millonarios’s first-choice right-back this tournament. The Colombian only turned 17 one month ago and was one of the youngest players in this tournament. Bello is average in the physical, athletic and technical areas and did not stand out. Standing at around 184cm, Bello is quite tall for a right-back. He has a small build but seemed to have decent upper body strength, winning (approximately) half of his physical ground duels with his opponent as he used his body to push his opponent off the ball. He is not quick on the first meters and does not have a good pace over long distances. Bello’s mobility and footwork were not great, as he often failed to deal well with knee-high passes but also struggled to control the ball while dribbling. He sometimes seemed to lose concentration which also led to a goal for the opponent against Peñarol. The right-footed Colombian has good off the ball movement when Millonarios are building out from the back, opening up passing lanes at the right time and creating space for other players. His passing technique is alright but his crossing was below average, not hitting the ball well and playing crosses that float too much. I think that Samuel Bello should maintain in the youth set up of Millonarios for quite a while. He has the potential to reach first-team level but needs to work on his athletic ability and improve his ball-playing ability.
Alcides Barbotte – Guarani – 26/06/2002 (19)
Alcides Barbotte started in four out of the five matches for Guarani. The right-back did not show much potential in the athletic aspect which will hold him back in the rest of his career. He did not have great technique either but his physical ability was decent. Barbotte looked very determined and passionate throughout this tournament and was concentrated. He has good defensive decision-making and looked strong in the duels, always giving the full 100% in the duels. Barbotte read the game well too, cutting passing lanes at the right time. However, in the 1v1 duels, he lost most of them as he is not agile and can not change directions quickly. The right-footed Paraguayan too often allowed his opponent to cross the ball into the box. His technique was alright, but that did not make up for his lack of athleticism. Alcides Barbotte was not included that much in Guarani’s attack, but he managed to get one assist against Caracas after he did well to stay calm when he got into possession in the box after a Guarani free-kick. In conclusion, I don’t think that Barbotte has that much potential as he lacks athleticism and he does not have a great technical ability either. I think he could become a decent player for a mid-table Paraguayan club in the future but that is probably his ceiling. He needs to work on his athleticism in the coming years. If he can improve his athleticism, he could become a good right-back in a defensive-minded team.
Daniel de la Cruz – LDU Quito – 06/03/2004 (18)
Daniel de la Cruz started in 2 out of 3 matches as a right-back for LDU Quito. He had one decent performance and one average performance. Standing at around 183cm with a toned body type, De la Cruz showed talent in the physical aspect but was inconsistent in the technical aspect and did not look like a good athlete. The Ecuadorian right-back was quick and powerful when running in straight lines but could not change directions quickly. He did not seem agile in the duels too and struggled with his footwork sometimes, especially in the defensive area. In the ground duels, he looked physically strong pushing his opponent off the ball quite easily. The defender liked to play over the top through passes over the byline. Those were accurate and he showed good technique with his short and long passing. Daniel de la Cruz had a good positional sense in the build-up and was capable of playing good one-touch passes. His defensive vision was not great, as he stepped up quite often when he shouldn’t have and his timing was not optimal too. The defender likes to be involved in the attack but needs space to travel into. I think that the Ecuadorian could become a decent wing-back (in South America) in a 3-5-2 where he needs to run up and down the wing the whole match. He has good stamina, has a lot of power when sprinting and has a decent long passing technique. De la Cruz definitely needs to improve his footwork, timing of stepping up and work on his athleticism. I think he could play for a low-table Serie A (Brazil) team in the future if he is being used in the right way. I don’t think he has the potential to play in the top European leagues.
René Rodriguez – Guarani – 13/01/2002 (20)
René Rodriguez started in all five matches for Guarani, playing as a left central defender. The right-footed defender was off to a great start, as his match against Newell’s Old Boys was close to perfection. However, in his next matches, there were a few red flags. Standing at 180cm with a toned build, Rodriguez has a good pace over a long distance but needed some time to reach his top speed. He is a mobile defender with good physical strength in ground duels. The Paraguayan closes gaps towards Servin or the wing well but sometimes was not composed enough when closing gaps towards the wing, missing the interception for Orense’s goal against Guarani. Rodriguez overcommitted a few times and should have stayed on his feet a few times. He forced his opponent backwards well when his opponent had his back towards Guarani’s goal and defended really proactively. Even though he made an occasional mistake he looked confident playing in a high defensive line. His positioning when dealing with crosses was good. Technically, he seemed to possess a sufficient level to progress the ball further up the pitch and he did not overcomplicate his passing. However, his long passes were inconsistent. To conclude, I think he showed some potential in the physical, athletic and technical aspects but he did not stand out in a single aspect. Thus, I think he can become a good defender for Guarani in the future but I doubt his career can take him any further than the Paraguayan league. He fits well in a team that plays a medium-high defensive line with a balanced playing style.
Daniel Lino – Blooming – 18/02/2002 (20)
Daniel Lino was the left central defender of Blooming in this match and they lost all three matches (with a goal difference of 0-8). The Bolivian showed talent in both the athletic and physical aspects. He has a decent technique too but made many mistakes in possession. The left-footed defender is around 184cm tall and has a toned body type. He is strong in the ground duels, has decent acceleration and is capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. Lino is capable of quickly changing his stance and looking active on his feet, while also having good footwork. The Bolivian has good decision-making in defence. Daniel Lino saw quite a lot of the ball throughout the matches as Blooming liked to take control of the ball and build it out from the back. He did the right things in possession but often lost the ball because his passing was not accurate enough. Daniel Lino should be a starter for Blooming already as he has a very interesting athletic and physical profile. I think he should play for in the Bolivian league a few years before potentially moving to Chile, Paraguay or Colombia. Lino would fit really well in a defensive-minded team that plays in a low defensive line. His height in combination with his agility and changes of direction would help him a lot playing in a low defensive line, as he would get in more defensive duels and needs to turn quickly a lot of times.
Stalin Valencia – LDU Quito – 10/10/2003 (18)
Stalin Valencia was LDU Quito’s first-choice left central defender in this tournament. The Ecuadorian defender looked good in the physical and athletic aspects but his technique needs to be improved. Stalin Valencia stands at around 183cm and has a muscular build with good upper body strength. The defender had a good pace over longer distances, good mobility, showed decent agility and was capable of changing directions when sprinting. His speed over the first few meters can be improved but was not bad. The 18-year-old looked secure in the ground and aerial duels, showing good strength and a good leap in aerial duels. Valencia is a composed defender who has a good defensive vision. As LDU Quito played very patiently, Valencia saw a lot of the ball this tournament. He sometimes made the wrong decision as he released the ball too late after stepping into midfield and his long passing was inaccurate at times. I think that Stalin Valencia is good enough to be a squad player at LDU Quito. He needs to improve on his technique but at the age of just 18, I think he has the potential to become a future player for Ecuador’s national team. Valencia could be an interesting target for clubs in Belgium that have a team in the second division but also for MLS clubs. Over time, he could be a really interesting player for possession-based teams that play a high defensive line. I think his ceiling is a low-table La Liga team.
Joel Ordoñez – Independiente del Valle – 21/04/2004 (17)
Joel Ordoñez was the starter for Independiente del Valle at right central defence, impressing a lot throughout the tournament. Standing at approximately 185cm with a muscular build, the defender showed good physicality in the ground duels but he was also strong in aerial duels. Ordoñez showed a lot of potential in the physical aspect but looked also really good in the technical and athletic aspects which make him a very exciting prospect. The Ecuadorian is quick on the first meters and capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. This helps him to close gaps towards the wing but also to cover runs in behind from the opponents. He cuts passing lanes well and shows good anticipation in defence. Ordoñez always shows great composure in defence and knows when to clear the ball and when to play a short pass. On the ball, Ordoñez liked to play long passes towards the left-wing. Even though he showed a good technique when doing so, his long passes were still quite inconsistent. However, he managed to pull off some very hard passes in this tournament and has good vision. His short passes were accurate and consistent and he looked strong when stepping into midfield while carrying the ball into midfield. The defender seemed to be light on his feet despite being quite muscular which helped him to turn relatively quickly in 1v1s. He does not get in those situations often though. In the 1v1s he has good timing to intercept the ball and he always keeps up with his opponent. I think Ordoñez suits the playing style of clubs like Independiente del Valle perfectly as he can defend in a very high defensive line excellently. The defender needs to improve his consistency with his long passing but this attribute will increase naturally as he gains more experience. I think Ordoñez is the most talented player of the tournament and at the age of just 17, I think he could be a target for clubs like Club Brugge, PSV but also Ajax. The Ecuadorian has the potential to be a starter for the Ecuadorian national team and he could follow the footsteps of Piero Hincapie if he makes smart career decisions.
Thiago Servín – Guarani – 05/06/2003 (18)
Thiago Servin was the first-choice left central defender for Guarani in this tournament. Standing at around 180cm with a toned body type, Servín showed potential in the physical and technical aspects. He is quick on the first meters and looked powerful carrying the ball into midfield. The Paraguayan managed to win most of his aerial duels as he has a good leap. Servín is not that agile and quick on the turn but had decent changes of directions when sprinting. The left-footed Paraguayan looked composed on the ball and liked to progress the ball further up the pitch with the ball at his feet. He occasionally made mistakes when doing so but his progressive runs also created a numerical superiority on the opposition’s half in some moments. Servín has a good passing technique over short and medium distances but his long passing was not great. Defensively, Servín looked strong in the ground duels and seemed to have good upper body strength, using his body well. The Paraguayan has good anticipation and did well to get in front of his opponent at times. He occasionally got dragged out wide too much when he did not need to follow his opponent. I think that Thiago Servín could fit well in an attacking-minded team that wants to play in a high defensive line and likes to put high pressure on his opponent. Servín is the kind of defender that will do really well in South America as he is strong in the duels, likes to defend proactively and is composed in possession. He needs to improve on his decision-making on the ball, his weaker right foot and he should work on his athleticism. Servín could be a good replacement for Roberto Fernandez if he leaves in 2023 and I think that Thiago Servín has the potential to play for a mid-table Primera Division (Argentina) club as he would probably fit better in Argentina (than in Brazil) with his on the ball ability.
Bryan Quiñonez – Orense – 17/07/2003 (18)
Bryan Quiñonez was the starting left central defender for Orense and scored two goals in the first match. Quiñonez is right-footed, stands at around 177cm and has a small body type, especially for a central defender. The defender looked talented in the physical aspect, showing a good recovery pace over longer distances and being quick over short distances. He looked physically strong in the ground duels too. Quiñonez has good anticipation and likes to get in front of his opponent. This sometimes leads to dangerous situations when his opponent uses his body very smartly. On the ball, he made quite a few mistakes showing bad awareness. Especially against Guarani, he was very inconsistent with his passing. His technical ability is alright but there is a lot of room for improvement there. The Ecuadorian defender had a positive involvement in the final third for Orense, scoring two goals from a corner in the opening match against Universidad de Concepcion. Quiñonez might be more suited to playing as a right-back in a defensive-minded team in the future. He doesn’t look great in aerial duels and doesn’t have a good build for a central defender. I think that Bryan Quiñonez has the potential to become a starter for Orense in the future but I don’t think his career will bring him any further. He needs to improve on his technical ability, increase his awareness in possession and be smarter in the ground duels.
Garis Mina – Independiente del Valle – 20/08/2003 (18)
Garis Mina was the starting left central defender for Independiente del Valle. The right-footed Ecuadorian showed good signs in the physical, athletic and technical ability but made some mistakes in the tournament. He stands at approximately 182cm and has a slim build. Despite his slim build, Mina looked strong in the ground duels as his tenacity and aggressiveness helped him. Mina is quick on the first meters and capable of maintaining that speed over longer distances. He turns quite quickly and looked agile. Both his short and long passing technique were good. His long passes (accuracy) were quite inconsistent though. Mina is an aggressive defender who liked to step out of the defensive line. His acceleration helped him to close down his opponent quickly. However, his (passive) stance in the 1v1 duels and overcommitment in some situations did not help him and led to some (small) mistakes. Mina did not seem to like to use his left foot in the build-up too. When he carried the ball forward he would cut back to his right foot before playing a long pass. I think that Garis Mina is an interesting defender because he has a good build, he is quite athletic and has a decent technique. He will be guided well at Independiente del Valle and the Ecuadorian club is the ideal club for him to develop.
Luis Córdova – LDU Quito – 17/01/2003 (19)
Luis Córdova was the starter at right central defender for LDU Quito throughout this tournament. The central defender got sent off against Peñarol and made some mistakes in this tournament. He stands at around 180cm and has a toned build. Córdova did not show any promising signs in technical, athletic and physical areas. He has no good acceleration and was not agile. The Ecuadorian was not that intelligent in the ground duels, as he used his hands way too much giving away fouls. He sometimes was way too late in the ground duels. Córdova his passing was very inconsistent, not showing good technique too. The Ecuadorian did not seem to fit in a possession-based team and did not look that comfortable playing in a high defensive line. Luis Córdova had bad awareness of his surroundings. I don’t think Luis Córdova has the potential to play at the highest level in Ecuador, even low-table teams in Liga Pro can be a stretch. I think he needs to move to a mid-table Venezuelan team if he wants to play at the highest level. The Ecuadorian defender would fit in a medium-high defensive line next to a ball-playing defender. Córdova needs to improve his athleticism, his technical ability (especially his passing) and he needs to be smarter in the ground duels.
Samuel Asprilla – Millonarios – 30/11/2003 (18)
Samuel Asprilla was Millonarios’s first-choice left-back in this tournament. Throughout this tournament, Samuel Asprilla proved to be a left-back with a very interesting profile. The Colombian is ~182cm tall and has a slim build. He shows a lot of potential in the athletic aspect, while also showing good signs in the physical, technical and tactical aspects. The left-back is dynamic and likes to join the attack whenever he can. He is press-resistant and is quick on both the first meters and over longer distances. Asprilla has a good passing technique and off the ball movement. Defensively, he seems disciplined and secure. Millonarios played in a 4-3-3 and liked to build out from the back but did not use the wings that much. The left-back fits in almost every system, but he will perform the best playing in a possession-based team that is dominant (in most matches) in the league. I think that Samuel Asprilla will quickly become a regular starter for Millonarios. He could be an interesting target for the bigger clubs in The Netherlands (AZ) and Belgium that have a team in the second division of their respective leagues. I think his ceiling is a top-table La Liga 2 team or a mid-table club in the Portuguese league. I think that Samuel Asprilla could become a more dangerous player if he gets to be more involved in the attacking play and I think he needs to be tested more in defence.
Alexis Cantero – Guarani – 05/02/2003 (19)
Alexis Cantero was the starting left-back for Guarani in this tournament and played every single minute in this tournament. He is a very athletic left-back with decent technical ability. The left-footed Paraguayan is quick on the first meters and is capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. His bursts of speed with the ball are good, being capable of beating players like Marco Angulo on the first meters. The left-back has good changes of directions while carrying the ball and likes to take on multiple opponents if there is space. Cantero also showed promising signs physically as he beat his opponent in physical ground duels a few times. The left-back looked good tactically too, showing good positional sense and making good over- and underlapping runs. However, he sometimes fails to cut the passing lane in defence which led to a penalty for Independiente del Valle in the semi-finals. Cantero generally stayed in the defensive line though and only stepped up to get into the duel with his direct opponent. Technically, Alexis Cantero was very good. He had good short passing with both his right and left foot and has a very good crossing technique. Not all his crosses were accurate, but his technique was good. His ball control when dribbling is really good and his first touch is above average too. Concluding, Alexis Cantero is a very dynamic left-back with great athleticism and good technical ability. He just turned 19 and I think he will become a starter for Guarani quite soon. Cantero could be an interesting target for clubs like (Jong) AZ, Sporting (Sporting B), Porto (Porto B), Benfica (Benfica B) or Club Brugge (Club NXT). It seems like he is not part of the plans in the first team yet and he has not made many appearances for the second team (it seems), so he could be a cheap gamble for clubs like that. I think he fits well at a team with a balanced playing style, but he also fits well in a more attacking side. I liked Asprilla and Cantero a lot and think they have the potential to play for a top side in La Liga 2, a low-table side in La Liga or one of the better teams in Portugal.
Renné Rivas – Caracas – 21/03/2003 (18)
Renné Rivas was the captain of Caracas FC and was the first-choice left-back, while he also played one half as a left central defender. He is around 178cm tall and has a muscular build. The left-back is talented in the athletic, physical and technical areas but did not look that great defensively. Rivas is quick over short and long distances. He is agile and can change directions quite quickly. Rivas is quite strong in the ground duels. The Venezuelan has a good passing technique but is still quite inconsistent with his passing. He has a good first touch and liked to play diagonal passes towards the attack. Defensively, Rivas often makes the wrong decision and does not position himself that well. His anticipation is not that great. This possibly could be because he has not played with this team that often, considering he is a first-team player already. I think that the first team of Caracas reflects the current ability of Renné Rivas. Rivas would do well as a left wing-back or left midfielder. I think Rivas has the potential to play in the MLS in the future but for now, he should stay at Caracas. In conclusion, I think that Renné Rivas needs to improve on his decision-making in defence, defensive vision and consistency with his passing.
Yeltzin Erique – LDU Quito – 27/03/2003 (18)
Yeltzin Erique was the first-choice left-back for LDU Quito throughout this tournament and got one assist in three matches. He stands at around 172cm and has a slim build. Erique looked talented in the technical and athletic aspects and could cover up his lack of strength in the duels by showing good anticipation. The Ecuadorian left-back does not have an explosive acceleration or is quick over long distances but his pace over longer distances and bursts of speed is decent. Erique showed good technical ability, having a good first touch. He puts in good crosses showing good crossing technique and Erique has consistent short passing. The defender was good tactically, making the right decisions both in and out of possession. Erique was composed in the final third, which was seen when he made an assist for Angulo’s opening goal against Millonarios. I think that Erique proved to be a left-back with a decent amount of potential. He could slowly integrate into the first team this season but I expect him to be playing for the B-team until next season. He would fit the best in a team that has a very attacking style of play. I think he would fit well in the Argentinian league in the future. I think Yeltzin Erique should work on his acceleration and pace over longer distances, as he could become a very dangerous left-back if he gets slightly faster.
Marco Angulo – Independiente del Valle – 08/05/2002 (19)
Marco Angulo was the starting defensive midfielder for Independiente del Valle. The Ecuadorian already was a starter of the team two years ago when the club from Sangolquí won the title. Marco Angulo excels in the athletic and technical aspects. The right-footed midfielder stands at approximately 180cm and has a slim build. His bursts of speed are excellent and I think he was the fastest in this tournament on the first few meters. This speed helped him to dribble past opponents in the first phase of the build-up. This is also Angulo’s biggest quality. He is outstanding in the first phase of the build-up and with the right intensity, he could become one of the best in this area of the pitch. Angulo has good off the ball movement, he has an excellent first touch and ball control and both his short and long passing are great. The 19-year-old tactically adapted to the structure of the opponents as he sometimes moved between the two central defenders and sometimes he played a bit further up the pitch. He liked to play one-twos with his teammates in the small spaces. Defensively, Angulo sporadically lost an important ground duel in Independiente del Valle’s final third but his aggressiveness often helped him to win the duels. He cuts passing lanes well and did not get wrong-footed by his opponent when he did quick feints. Angulo has good anticipation and always closed gaps towards the wing well. Generally, Marco Angulo is a very talented midfielder but he showed mixed signs in terms of intensity throughout the tournament. The Ecuadorian fits best in a very attacking-minded team and has the potential to play for a 5-8th placed team in leagues like the Bundesliga and La Liga. I think he would be an interesting target for top half clubs in Belgium.
Nicolas Arevalo – Millonarios – 13/01/2003 (19)
Nicolas Arevalo was the first-choice defensive midfielder and one of the key players for Millonarios. The midfielder showed a lot of potential in the technical aspect but showed that there is room for improvement in the physical and athletic aspects. He stands at around 176cm, has a slim build and does not have good upper body strength. Arevalo got beat in a few ground duels in the midfield third as his opponent was more agile and had more pace. He was decent in aerial duels and has a good leap. The Colombian made up for his lack of acceleration and strength in the ground duels with his defensive positioning. He reads the game very well and has good anticipation in defence. The main quality of Arevalo is his technical ability. He breaks lines with his passing with ease, has a great long passing technique and is very accurate with his passing. I think that Nicolas Arevalo has the potential to become a key player for Millonarios. He is good enough to be a squad player right now, as he has a good technical ability and he’s quite smart tactically. Arevalo fits perfectly in a possession-based team. He needs to be the main man in possession in order to make him succeed. The Colombian needs to work on his athleticism and his upper body strength. This would help him in defence. I think Arevalo his ceiling is a mid-table team in the Brazilian Serie A.
Oscar Zambrano – LDU Quito – 20/04/2004 (17)
Oscar Zambrano was the first-choice right central midfielder for LDU Quito. The midfielder showed talent, but inconsistency, in the athletic and technical aspects but his physical ability was below average and Zambrano needs to play with higher intensity too. The defensive midfielder likes to play long passes towards the right-wing. He has good bursts of speed but did not utilize this enough. Standing at around 176cm with a slim build, he did not seem to be capable to maintain that speed over longer distances, making it hard for him to cover a lot of ground. The Ecuadorian looked like a bad defender, often overcommitting in duels and losing physical ground duels. He lost a few important duels in the final third. His positioning was not great, too. Zambrano is not consistent enough on the ball yet, often losing the ball in dangerous areas. I think that Oscar Zambrano has a long way to go before he could play for the first team of LDU Quito. He has talent in the athletic and technical areas but needs to do a lot of work in the gym to increase his upper body strength. Next to that, it is really important that he increases his intensity and works on his defensive ability. Oscar Zambrano would fit very well in the Venezuelan league at one of the better sides, where the intensity is quite low. I think Zambrano has the potential to play for one of the better clubs in Ecuador. In conclusion, Zambrano needs to increase his intensity, be more consistent with his long passing and work on his defensive skills.
Erick Plúas – Orense – 20/03/2002 (19)
Erick Plúas was the captain of Orense and the first-choice right central midfielder. He scored one goal in three matches and was one of the most important players of Orense. He stands at around 175cm, has a slim build and is quite light-weighted. Plúas showed talent in the athletic and technical aspects but I think he could work on his physical aspect. The Ecuadorian is press-resistant due to his good agility, changes of direction and bursts of speed. He has good ball control and ball coordination when dribbling and always stays composed. Plúas has good passing technique but his consistency in his long passes can be improved. He showed good ball progression throughout the tournament and helped Orense find creative players in good areas. Erick Plúas looked strong tactically in defence and did well to cut passing lanes. He covered runs into the box well. Plúas sometimes seems to overestimate himself as he sometimes overcomplicates his actions. The midfielder gets pushed off the ball quite easily in physical duels. I think that Erick Plúas has shown why he has already played that many matches for the first team. He is ready to be a regular starter for Orense. Plúas could be an interesting player for mid-table Jupiler League Pro teams (Belgium) in the summer. I think he has the potential to play for one of the better teams in Belgium or in the MLS or Brazilian Serie A. He occasionally needs to increase his intensity, work on his consistency in possession and work on his upper body strength, which increases his strength when holding off opponents.
Patrik Mercado – Independiente del Valle – 31/07/2003 (18)
Patrik Mercado was the starting right central midfielder for Independiente del Valle. He showed potential in the athletic and technical aspects but struggled physically. Standing at approximately 175cm with a slim build, Mercado got pushed off the ball easily and did not look strong in physical ground duels. His tenacity sometimes helped him in ground duels, but when he was in possession of the ball he failed to protect the ball at times. The Ecuadorian moves very fluidly and looks pretty quick on the first meters. He is capable of beating opponents by pace on the first few meters. The right-footed 18-year-old did not change directions while sprinting that quickly as he needed to slow down significantly before changing directions. The biggest asset of Mercado is that he is a very intelligent player who recognizes spaces perfectly. It often happened that Mercado ran into the space that was left open after Valencia dropped deep on the right-wing. The Ecuadorian has a really good technique. Both his short and long passes were consistent and accurate and he is good with both feet. He is good at playing one-touch passes. Mercado scanned well before receiving. Patrik Mercado was good at putting pressure on the opponent. Generally, Mercado is a midfielder with good potential, but he needs to improve his upper body strength as he is not physically strong enough to make it at the senior level at this moment. If he can improve on his physical ability, Mercado can become a starter for Independiente del Valle before 2024 and he has the potential to play in the MLS. The midfielder fits best in an attacking-minded team with a possession-based style, like Independiente del Valle.
Denil Castillo – LDU Quito – 24/03/2004 (17)
Denil Castillo was the starting left central midfielder and played all 270 minutes in the three games. The right-footed midfielder stands at around 190cm with very long legs. He has a slim build. I think he showed a lot of potential in the physical and athletic aspects, while also showing some promising signs in the technical aspect. Despite his posture, Castillo looked athletic having decent changes of direction and agility. The Ecuadorian midfielder was capable of doing quick stepovers or a croqueta to get past his opponents. It only rarely happened in these matches that he had bad coordination. Castillo has good mobility too. He won a lot of ground duels because of his long legs which made it easier to recover possession. Castillo tried to combine his physical, athletic and technical ability when protecting the ball, using his strength, agility and technical ability to get away from his marker. I think he needs to improve a little bit on his strength, especially in his upper body which will help him to win more duels without losing his athleticism. LDU Quito built out from the back patiently in this tournament and Castillo saw a lot of the ball. He played some good, strong passes into the attack but also was quite sloppy at times. I think that Denil Castillo would fit very well playing as one of the defensive midfielders in an attacking-minded team that plays a high defensive line. He needs to become a little more mature on the ball and increase his upper body strength, next to developing his already decent athleticism. Castillo could become a very interesting player if he can combine his body posture with good athleticism and technical ability. The midfielder could be interesting for clubs like AZ where he could join the under 19’s or even Jong AZ, as I think he can develop very nicely. Denil Castillo has the potential to play for mid-table La Liga clubs if he develops the way I think he can develop.
Tommy Chamba – Orense – 23/10/2004 (17)
Tommy Chamba was a regular starter for Orense in the attacking midfield position and contributed to two goals in three matches. The Ecuadorian showed a lot of potential in the technical aspect but there is room for improvement in the physical and athletic aspects. Chamba looked quite quick on the first meters but was not capable of maintaining that speed over longer distances. He was quite quick on the turn and could change directions when sprinting quite well. The left-footed attacking midfielder was smart to stay out of the duels quite often and drew fouls very smartly. He was not strong in the physical duels and did not have good upper body strength. The Ecuadorian midfielder was very dangerous from dead-ball situations, showing a great kicking technique. His corners were almost always dangerous and his free-kicks were really good. He has great shooting from every position near the box. Chamba is very comfortable playing one-touch football in small spaces and is press-resistant. The Ecuadorian should be quicker with his actions in the counter-attack though as he sometimes slowed the attack down. I think that Chamba could make his debut for the first team of Orense in 2022 as his technical ability is great. He does well to stay out of the duels but it is a big concern that he loses almost every ground duel and that he can not cover much ground as he is not quick over long distances. This also led to him slowing counter-attacks down. Chamba should play in an attacking-minded team that has a lot of possession in every game. The Ecuadorian would be the ideal player for any top team in Venezuela but he could also do well in Chile or Peru. I think that Orense (or a slightly better team in Ecuador) is his ceiling. However, it is an interesting player to keep an eye out for as he is a real threat from dead-ball situations.
Estêvão – Internacional – 03/02/2002 (20)
Estêvão was the first-choice right-winger for Internacional and had a disappointing tournament, not having a significant impact for the Brazilians despite having good potential. He stands at ~176cm and has a toned build. The left-footed Brazilian moved smoothly and changed directions quickly. His pace is decent but he played his matches at the same tempo and did not show great intensity this tournament. Both in the physical and athletic areas there is room for improvement. His main asset is his technical ability. The Brazilian has a great crossing technique, especially from free-kicks. His short passing is consistent and good too. He liked to play one-touch passes in the small spaces. Estêvão often dropped deep, from where he carried the ball inside before playing a long pass to the left wing. He is a very intelligent player and looked good tactically. I think that the Brazilian has a lot of potential, but he needs to up his intensity. Next to that, he needs to use his good changes of directions more often. I would like him to have more possession in the final third, he now often dropped deep and got into possession near the halfway line. That will hopefully allow him to create more chances from open play. Estêvão has the potential to play for the first team but I think Internacional is his ceiling.
Guilmar Centella – Blooming – 26/03/2005 (16)
Guilmar Centella was the first-choice right-winger and was the bright spark of Blooming in a disappointing Copa Libertadores campaign, showing an excellent technique. Standing at only 160cm, Centella is not strong physically as he gets pushed off the ball easily. He has ok upper body strength but that is not strong enough to remain in possession when in a physical duel. Centella shows good aggressiveness in defensive duels. The Bolivian winger is really quick on the first meters but can not maintain this speed over long distances, which allows his opponent to get back into the duel when he got dribbled past. Centella is very agile and shows good changes of direction. The Bolivian is tactically strong and has great vision. He always cuts inside to his stronger left foot and likes to play through passes to the striker or left-winger Centella has good off the ball movement in the first phase of the build-up and is very good in the small spaces. He has excellent ball control and ball coordination when dribbling and wins almost every 1v1. However, sometimes he had a bad first touch where it seemed like he had a lapse of concentration. If Centella would have been 10-15cm taller, he would have been an interesting target for clubs in Belgium, but his lack of physicality will haunt him for the rest of his career. He fits best in an attacking-minded team where he sees a lot of the ball. I think he will become a leading player in the Bolivian league who might be capable of stepping up to the Chilean or Colombian league in the future.
Matheo Becerra – Blooming – 01/06/2005 (16)
Matheo Becerra was the starting left-winger for Blooming in this tournament and he had a very inconsistent tournament. Standing at around 180cm with a slim build, Becerra has quite a good build for a winger. He did not show much potential in the athletic and technical aspects though. Becerra had good acceleration and was capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. He looked quite strong in physical duels, protecting the ball well and managing to hold off his opponent. Becerra seemed to struggle to change directions when sprinting but looked alright when making a 180-degree turn. The left-footed Bolivian always tried to get past his opponent on the outside. He would succeed in doing so quite regularly but his crossing technique was very inconsistent which led to a bad cross quite often. His off the ball movement in the first phase of the build-up was not good enough too, as he was expected to move into the half-space but failed to do so quite often. In the final third, his off the ball movement seemed quite good (especially against a lower-level team like Sporting Cristal). He made some good runs in behind and worked well together with Guilmar Centella. I think that Matheo Becerra has too many limitations to his game to make it to the top in Bolivia but I think he can have a future at Blooming as he is only 16 years old. He needs to work on his athleticism and crossing technique, next to his off the ball movement in the first phase of the build-up.
Matias Segovia – Guarani – 04/01/2003 (19)
Matias Segovia was the starting right-winger for Guarani in the Copa Libertadores U20. He managed to score two and assist two goals but also got sent off in the semi-finals against Independiente del Valle after he failed to control his emotions. Segovia showed a lot of potential in the technical and athletic areas but has some limitations in terms of physical ability. Standing at approximately 165cm with a slim but muscular build, the winger did not look greatly strong in the physical duels and his shooting power was below average. He is very quick on the first meters but was not capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. Segovia often received the ball near his own half in this tournament, from where he is less likely to provide any danger. Segovia has a low centre of gravity which allows him to be very agile. His timing in attacking 1v1 duels can be improved as his opponent often intercepted the ball as Segovia did not react quick enough. The winger usually carries the ball inside trying to get past a few opponents while also looking to play a through pass. Segovia has a good technique but needs to work on his consistency with his through passes and over the top passes. The left-footed Paraguayan showed mixed signs in his tactical understanding of the game but was composed in front of goal. In terms of potential, I think his physical appearance will restrict Segovia from playing in the top leagues in Europe as he currently does not possess the technical or tactical ability to make up for his lack of physicality. However, if Segovia is used correctly (close to the opposition goal) in an attacking-minded team, I think Segovia could be an interesting target for the entire continent of South America, while also being an interesting target for MLS clubs.
Anthony Valencia – Independiente del Valle – 21/07/2003 (18)
Anthony Valencia was Independiente del Valle’s right-winger in this tournament and contributed to four goals in five matches. The winger showed a lot of potential in the technical and tactical aspects, while also showing some good signs in the athletic aspect. However, he has some physical limitations which can hold him back in the future. Standing at around 176cm with a slim build, Anthony Valencia is not capable of maintaining his good speed on the first meters over longer distances. The Ecuadorian has good changes of directions and looks very agile. He manages to keep his balance very well when dribbling while also showing good ball coordination. Valencia sometimes made football look very easy as he looked really comfortable playing one-touch football in small spaces. His short passes were really good. Even though Valencia managed to score a goal from long range, I think his shooting technique did not look great. Tactically, Valencia showed good positional play and linked up well with Patrik Mercado and Orlando Herrera. The left-footed right-winger liked to receive the ball in deep areas from where he would look to play a through pass. However, Anthony Valencia only seemed comfortable using his left foot, which made him cut inside almost every time. This is not necessarily a problem (Robben, Antony, etc.), but it would be good if he would be more comfortable using his right foot. I also think that he could up his intensity both in and out of possession. Anthony Valencia definitely has the potential to make the first team and I also think he could make the step to the MLS in the future, but he needs to increase his upper body strength and work on his intensity.
Diego Mendez – Peñarol – 27/07/2002 (19)
Diego Mendez played as a right-winger for Peñarol. The Uruguayan managed to score once and assist one goal. The 19-year-old Uruguayan is around 175cm tall and has a slim build. He showed some good potential in the technical, athletic and physical areas but generally was not that much involved in the matches. Diego Mendez is quick on the first meters and capable of maintaining that speed over longer distances. He has good changes of directions and could turn away from his opponent really quickly. Mendez generally moved quite smoothly over the pitch. In the ground and aerial duels, Mendez seemed to struggle and he lost almost every aerial duel. The Uruguayan has a good technique. His short passes were quite sloppy sometimes but he has good long passing. The winger did not get in many 1v1 duels with the defender and often seemed to go for backwards passes. His crossing was quite inconsistent. He, most of the time, got the ball in good areas but sometimes failed to create any danger from his crosses. Like all Peñarol players, Mendez seemed really determined and passionate. I think that Mendez needs to play with more bravery and take on his opponents more often. He has all attributes to become a really good player, but I need to see more presence of him in his matches. If he can do that, I am certain that he will reach the first team of Peñarol and eventually move to the Argentinian or Brazilian league.
Ariel Suarez – Orense – 09/02/2004 (18)
Ariel Suarez was the starting left-winger for Orense. The winger assisted one goal in three matches. He is around 177cm tall and has a slim build. The winger showed good potential in the technical and athletic aspects. Suárez has good bursts of speed, agility, changes of direction and pace over longer distances. In physical ground duels, he did not look good, being pushed off the ball quite easily at times. His dribbling ability was inconsistent, sometimes making the wrong decision or a sloppy mistake. Ariel Suarez moves very fluidly and looks light-footed though. The Ecuadorian sometimes shoots from too far out. Suarez his off the ball movement to get into space between the lines in the final third and in the box was impressive. The 18-year-old does not have good shooting power. His passing ability is good, his technique helps him to play through passes and crosses with the outside of the boot. The Ecuadorian is good enough to be a squad player for Orense and could make an instant impact for them. He has the potential to become a key player in the Ecuadorian league and I think he is a player that could move to the MLS or the Brazilian Serie A in the future. Ariel Suarez fits in both a counter-attacking side and in a side that is attacking-minded. He needs to become more decisive in the final third, more consistent with his dribbling and work on his upper body strength. Increasing your upper body strength helps a player to hold off opponents when dribbling.
Maximo Alonso – Peñarol – 05/07/2002 (19)
Maximo Alonso played as a left-winger for Peñarol in this tournament. He scored two goals and assisted two goals. Standing at around 180cm with a toned build, Alonso possesses good pace and decent bursts of speed, often trying to get away from his marker by making a heavy touch down the touchline trying to beat his opponent by pace. Alonso did not seem to have good changes of direction and always made the same move. His second goal against Caracas came from the right-wing after he cut inside to his stronger left foot. Even though this did not look that smooth, I think I’d rather see him on the right than on the left. The winger has a good technique when dribbling. His (sloppy) passing and decision-making let him down occasionally. Alonso is also capable of making good runs in behind. His good runs led to the 0-1 against LDU Quito. Maximo Alonso often let his opponent contribute in attack without covering his movement at first, but when he saw that it could become a dangerous situation he usually sprinted back. In general, I think that Alonso showed some promising signs in the physical and technical aspects, but that he is not that athletic. He has already made his debut for the first team, but I don’t think he will become a key player for Peñarol as his athletic ability will let him down in the future, also because he always tries to get past his opponent on the outside.
Francisco Sagardia – Independiente del Valle – 21/05/2002 (19)
Francisco Sagardia played as a striker for Independiente del Valle and managed to score four goals in this tournament. Standing at approximately 186cm with a toned build, Sagardia has a good build for a striker. The Uruguayan striker’s matches were mostly based on making runs into the box and trying to make space for himself to receive crosses. This is something that he did really well. Even though he did not have an explosive acceleration, he often managed to get away from his marker as he showed good changes of directions. Sagardia liked to fake a run towards the far post before moving to the front post. This was effective as most of his goals came from this. When Independiente del Valle is in possession, Sagardia rarely gets involved and he really relies on the crosses of his teammates. He worked together very well with both Orlando Herrera and Anthony Valencia, who provided him with multiple good crosses. Sagardia often forced the opponent’s goalkeeper to play the long ball as he put pressure on him in the right way. In conclusion, Sagardia fits well at Independiente del Valle and works well in the two striker system that the main team usually uses. He relies on support from his teammates and I think he should have a player next to him who drops deep often.
Sergio Ferreira – Blooming – 17/11/2003 (18)
Sergio Ferreira played as a striker for Blooming. He had many chances to score a goal but failed to convert any chances. Despite missing quite some chances, I think he showed some potential to at least become a key player in Bolivia. Standing at 181cm, the striker often received aerial passes from his teammates as Blooming was put under high pressure quite often. Ferreira’s first touch was quite good and he controlled the ball well. The Bolivian always stayed composed and linked up with his teammates well. He picked out the right passes and had good hold-up play. However, he lacks physicality as his acceleration and pace were below average. He did not seem to have great stamina and failed to keep up with the intensity of the match. The Bolivian striker got into good positions often, showing good off the ball movement. He handled quickly in all situations, but his efforts were not directed towards the goal enough. To conclude, I don’t think Ferreira has that much potential but he had some characteristics that I like to see from a striker. The lack of potential is mainly based on his lack of stamina, pace, acceleration and bad finishing.
Saul Guarirapa – Caracas – 18/10/2002 (19)
Saul Guarirapa played as a striker for Caracas and this was the first tournament he played after coming back from a very bad knee injury. After a bad first game and a bad first half of the second match (playing as a left-winger in that half), he managed to improve a lot and in the end he scored four goals and assisted once in five matches. Standing at around 188cm with a muscular build (and after a bad knee injury), Guarirapa surprisingly looked like a good athlete. He turns relatively quickly, is quick on the first meters and is capable of maintaining that speed over long distances. Guarirapa did well to exploit this by making well-timed runs in behind. The Venezuelan is really strong in both the ground and aerial duels. In the technical aspect, Guarirapa showed mixed signs. When dribbling, he sometimes looked very good using a roulette to get past an opponent. In other situations, he did not have good ball coordination and failed to control the ball well when dribbling. His first touch when dealing with over the top through passes was not great, but when dropping deep his first touch was quite good and he showed good composure to stay in possession. Guarirapa looked composed in front of the goal and showed some good finishing ability. Generally speaking, I think that Guarirapa has a really interesting profile for a striker. His injury set him back, but he managed to bounce back and has everything that it takes to become a key player for Caracas before moving to the MLS. He has a lot of potential in the physical and athletic aspects but also has an ok technical ability. Guarirapa needs to work on his first touch when dealing with aerial passes, improve on his final pass and sometimes increase his intensity. If he can do that, he could become a really dangerous player in counter-attacking teams.