15 MLS Players Primed for Big Seasons in 2014
15 Players Primed For Success In 2014
Finding a player that electrifies a team is hard to do. For successful clubs, there has always been a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, or Leo Messi or even Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Each one of these players have risen up out of the shadows and made a name for themselves in the soccer world -- a name so loud and proud that even your grandchildren will know about them. Now you must be asking yourself, does MLS have any players like this?
More often than not, the first name out of people’s mouths would be L.A. Galaxy star Landon Donovan. It is safe to say that Donovan is the face of MLS -- that is until Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi came along. Zusi has changed what it means to be a successful midfielder in MLS. We can all forgive his missed penalty kick in the 2013 MLS Cup finals only because his team still ended up winning the cup. Zusi is also making tremendous strides on the national team level and has become a consistent fixture for Jurgen Klinsmann this past season. His work ethic is something you want to see in all players.
While Zusi and Donovan are prime models for what it takes to me success in MLS, there are others who can more than capable of being just as successful. Over the past few seasons, players like Chris Wondolowski, Kyle Beckerman, Juan Agudelo, Camilo Sanvezzo and Omar Gonzalez have shown the league exactly what each one of them is capable of doing. Each player is and was incredibly important to their clubs' success during their time on the team. Players of their caliber do not grow on trees, unfortunately.
Thankfully, the league continues to get better with each passing season, and 2014 is no exception. While some teams are bringing in talent from Europe, others are shopping within the league to seek out top prospects already in the league.
So how exactly do you know which players are primed for success before a season starts? Honestly, it really can be difficult to figure out, but as history would tell us, there is always a pattern to how our crazy world works. Still don’t believe me? Well, take a look at these 15 players who are more than primed for success in 2014.
Baxter Colburn is a MLS writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Baxstar20, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google
15. Dominic Oduro
For those of you that remember, I have already picked Oduro as a potential MVP candidate for the 2014 season. Does that mean he should be higher on the list? Maybe, but what is important to remember is that he is coming off a solid 2013 season. The Columbus Crew are the silent-but-deadly type of team opponents hate. It would be no surprise to me if Oduro were to fire off 14-plus goals this season.
14. Clint Irwin
The only goalkeeper to make this list. I believe Irwin is incredibly underrated and with such a good supporting cast around him, it is no wonder the Colorado Rapids made the playoffs last season. If Irwin continues his success, he could be looking at a Goalie of the Year Award.
13. Lee Nguyen
One of the many catalysts on the New England Revolution midfield, Nguyen recently re-signed with the Revs to make sure to help them continue on their quest for MLS Cup glory. With all the talk surrounding New England going into the 2014 season, seeing Nguyen have a monster year is something critics and fans must seriously consider happening.
12. Kenny Cooper
Let’s all be honest for a moment. Kenny Cooper's career was going nowhere fast after last season. Before that, he was an 18 goals-per-season scoring machine for the New York Red Bulls. Thankfully for the sake of saving his career, Cooper was picked up by the Seattle Sounders and is now in place to be one of the main focuses of their high-powered offense.
11. Benji Joya
It may be a little early in his MLS career to call him one of the best up-and-coming players, but it is certainly something to think about. Joya can score goals and make plays happen anywhere on the field. He will be a terrific companion to Mike Magee when goals need to be scored.
10. Marco Pappa
I do not think Seattle fans truly understand how lucky the team is to have a player like Marco Pappa on their team. Sure, the team lost a terrific midfielder in Mauro Rosales, but replacing him with someone as talented and dynamic as Pappa was absolutely brilliant on their part. Pappa will be everything and more for the Sounders in 2014, and could be the missing piece of the puzzle that could send Seattle to their first MLS Cup in team history.
9. Bobby Convey
It is nice to see a player of Convey's caliber finally land on a team this is capable of winning a MLS Cup. His veteran experience will help guide a Red Bulls team that knows how to score goals and win games, only the team will now do so in the playoffs. Tim Cahill will be a great pairing with Convey, and the two will open up the offense to a whole new level of attacking soccer.
8. Michael Bradley
The newly-acquired midfielder for Toronto F.C. will be a field general, leading the league in assists and adding a few corner kick headers. Bradley really needs to introduction. He is good, some would even say great, and Toronto’s success in 2014 depends heavily on his level of play and how consistent he is able to be.
7. Robbie Keane
Some critics are already saying that Keane is a shoo-in for the 2014 MLS MVP award. Well, in order for that to happen, Keane needs two things to happen. 1. He needs to score at least 15 goals, and 2. The L.A. Galaxy need to make it to at least the Western Conference finals. Both are attainable, so it will be interesting to see how his 2014 season plays out.
6. Obafemi Martins
He is without a doubt the best forward on the Seattle Sounders this season. Martins has already dazzled during preseason, so why not carry that momentum into the regular season? His goal scoring abilities are second to none, which makes him a prime candidate for the Golden Boot award and a player that is primed for success in 2014.
5. Darren Mattocks
What do you do when the team’s best player leaves for a different club? Put the ball at the feet of the second-best player on the team, of course. Mattocks is downright dangerous on offense. He knows how to score goals and make chances for others on this team. With the departure of Camillo, the Vancouver Whitecaps will look to Mattocks to carry much of their offense in 2014.
4. Lamar Neagle
Boy, does this guy know how to play soccer. His 2013 season was just a taste of his true potential. With a solid offense for the Sounders, Neagle will be called upon to orchestrate much of the outside attacks and will be put in charge of making sure players like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper have the ball at their feet at all times.
3. Diego Fagundez
Just like Neagle, 2013 was a mere sampling of what Fagundez is truly capable of doing. His 13 goals were a stepping stone to the next level of play, and a solid foundation for him to establish his presence as one of MLS’ top goalscorers.
2. DeShorn Brown
The Rapids are truly blessed to have a player of his caliber on their team. With much of the offense flowing through him in 2013, it can be safe to assume that the same amount, if not more will go through him again in 2014. He truly is a terrific and dangerous forward in MLS.
1. Kelyn Rowe
This choice may come as a surprise to many of you, but Rowe is one of the best young midfielders in MLS. He has steadily developed into a consistent starter and scorer of wonder goals for the Revolution. It is only a matter of time until Jurgen Klinsmann takes notice of his playmaking abilities and calls him into U.S. camp.