Soccer MLS

2014 MLS Season: 10 Rookies You Must Keep an Eye On

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10 MLS Rookies You Must Keep an Eye On During 2014 Season

2014 MLS Rookies
Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports

The 2014 MLS SuperDraft occurred in Philadelphia in January. Now in February, the 2014 MLS season is less than a month away from kicking off.

Each offseason, there are players that catch the eyes of both fans, coaches and the press. This year was no different. While the draft class was not the most flashy or spectacular, it nonetheless provided ample opportunities for teams to improve their current squads.

On draft day, many liked the moves both the Philadelphia Union and the New England Revolution made. Both teams added much-needed depth while filling in other voids.

As February quickly progresses, teams are headed back down to either the southeast or southwest for more preseason action. During this time, coaches will make further cuts, secure contracts with players and start finalizing their starting XI come March.

While teams are training and taking on MLS opponents, the league's rookies are being watched. This could be their last time practicing and playing with their teammates, or it could be the start of a superb rookie season. Nonetheless, fans and media will be scouring the live streams and letting their opinion known on how every player is doing. For many, this is the first time they will get to these rookies in action.

Without further ado, find out which 10 MLS rookies you must keep an eye on during the 2014 season.

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10. Richie Marquez

Richard Marquez Philadelphia Union
steve mitchell-USA Today Sports

While Richie Marquez was not taken until the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, the Division III University of Redlands product could make an immediate impact for the Philadelphia Union. Philadelphia is trying to figure out who will start alongside fellow CB Amobi Okugo, and Marquez has a long shot at sneaking into the Union's starting XI.

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9. Pedro Ribeiro

Pedro Ribeiro Philadelphia Union
Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Pedro Ribeiro's passing and technical skills makes him one of the 10 MLS rookies to watch during the 2014 MLS Season

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8. Steve Birnbaum

Steve Birnbaum DC United
Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports

DC's defense was very poor last year, but Birnbaum will be an up-and-coming rookie who has a lot to prove. He should find his way in the starting XI right away and the pressure will be on.

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7. Jimmy Ockford

Jimmy Ockford Seattle Sounders
Stephanie Greene-USA Today Sports

Jimmy Ockford adds youth, versatility and sound defensive skills to an aging back line. Watch out, Seattle Sounders defenders -- Ockford could replace you before season's end.

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6. Ben Sweat

Ben Sweat Columbus Crew
Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Ben Sweat was taken by the Columbus Crew for one main reason: he adds height to a back line. You heard it hear first: Sweat could be in Columbus' starting XI during the opening weekend.

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5. Christian Dean

Christian Dean Vancouver Whitecaps
Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports

Projected to go no. 1 overall, Vancouver swiped up defender Christian Dean at third overall. Dean should provide stability and solid defense to a team who lost a dangerous offensive player during the offseason.

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4. Andre Blake

Andre Blake Philadelphia Union
Stephanie Greene-USA Today Sports

Blake will get to learn and adapt to MLS play under MacMath. Additionally, the Union could possibly trade MacMath midseason, and Blake could earn his first start at a moment's notice.

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3. Damion Lowe

Damion Lowe Seattle Sounders
Stephanie Greene-USA Today Sports

Seattle needed young players on the back line. Lowe can provide both quality defensive play and offense up the wings offensively. In addition, his chemistry with Ockford will benefit Seattle.

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2. Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins New England Revolution
Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Many MLS scouts thought Patrick Mullins would go in the top five, but New England took him at no. 11 after picking up Steve Neumann. Mullins will be an attacking force this season and be the Revolution's offensive spark.

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1. Steve Neumann

Steve Neumann New England Revolution
Stephanie Greene-USA Today Sports

I think Neumann will have a better year than Patrick Mullins. Both will have to work hard and make it count, yet I think Neumann's time with Reading United gives him an edge over Mullins on the field.