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Africa Cup of Nations continues to have some MLS flair

Four players from the league are representing in Africa’s biggest tournament.

Russia v Cameroon - International Friendly Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations began on Saturday in the Ivory Coast, it marked the start of the most underrated tournament on the planet. AFCON is a tournament of vibes, with 24 teams looking to lift the trophy as Africa’s champion.

With the matches full of entertainment, vibes, flair, incredible moments, and even some controversy, every soccer fan in the world should be tuning in to watch. And, for fans of Major League Soccer, once again the league will be represented in this tournament.

Four MLS players - Carlos Akapo, Jamiro Monteiro, Steven Moreira, and Nouhou Tolo - will compete in the Africa Cup of Nations, giving fans of the league and the teams the players represent more of a reason to tune in. Each of the players are hoping to help bring their country to glory in this fascinating tournament.

Defender Carlos Akapo, who calls the San Jose Earthquakes home in MLS, will be playing for Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is in Group A along with hosts Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Guinea-Bissau. This is Akapo’s second AFCON tournament. His first came in the 2021 edition of the tournament, which was delayed until 2022 due to COVID. Akapo started every match for Nzalang Nacional (National Thunder) as they made it to the quarterfinals. Akapo has 30 caps and one goal for Equatorial Guinea over 11 years, with his first call-up coming in August 2012.

MLS: MLS Cup Western Conference Wild Card-San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City
San Jose midfielder Jamiro Monteiro is away from the team representing Cape Verde at the African Cup of Nations tournament.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jamiro Monteiro is Akapo’s teammate on the San Jose Earthquakes, but the midfielder represents Cape Verde internationally. This is his second time at AFCON, having played for the team in the 2021 tournament. He started every match for the Blue Sharks on their way to a Round of 16 finish. Cape Verde is in Group B with Egypt, Ghana, and Mozambique. Monteiro has 32 caps and 3 goals for Cape Verde.

Joining Monteiro on Cape Verde is defender Steven Moreira from the Columbus Crew. However, unlike Monteiro, Moreira just broke into the Cape Verdean national team. He played for France’s youth international teams before declaring his intent to play for Cape Verde on the senior international level. His first cap for Cape Verde came in October 2023 and he has 2 total for the team, including a friendly against Tunisia on Wednesday. This will be his first Africa Cup of Nations.

MLS: MLS Cup Western Conference Wild Card-San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City
San Jose Earthquakes defender Carlos Akapo (29) scores a goal on Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia. Akapo will represent Equatorial Guinea in the African Cup of Nations tournament.
Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Nouhou Tolo may have the most experience of the MLS players that will be competing in this tournament. A defender for the Seattle Sounders, Nouhou represents Cameroon on the international level. He started almost every match for Cameroon at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, leading them to a 3rd place finish. He also has World Cup experience, starting every match for Cameroon in their group stage exit in Qatar 2022, including a 1-0 victory over Brazil. Altogether, Nouhou has 1 assist in 27 caps for The Indominable Lions.

So, as the teams continue to take the field during this incredible tournament, expect fireworks. And, four MLS players will be right in the thick of the action, each hoping to help their team to glory. It’s just the latest example of Major League Soccer being a league that stretches to all corners of the globe, and even will help bring the vibes in the world’s most underrated tournament.