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Every MLS Team’s Most Important Player Heading into 2014 Season

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Every MLS Team's Most Important Player Heading into 2014 Season

MLS Players
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer is quickly becoming one of the top professional sports leagues in the United States. Don’t believe me? MLS is the third most attended professional sport in the United States; that’s more than both the NBA and the NHL. It’s quickly approaching MLB as well, gaining nearly 1000 more people per year to the average attendance rate.

Last season was headlined by the arrival of Clint Dempsey. However, the 2014 MLS season is headlined by the addition of multiple big name stars. U.S. Men’s National Team midfielders Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu have joined the league, as well as former Tottenham and England striker, Jermain Defoe. There are multiple Designated Players all over the league and, more importantly, the talent continues to get better and better in MLS.

Major League Soccer is going to be even more exciting this season, because MLS is potentially more talented than it’s ever been. On top of the increased talent level, it’s a World Cup year, so many top players will not only be trying to maintain good form going into Brazil, but also will be trying to showcase their talent in order to be a last minute selection to a roster.

Anything could happen in MLS in 2014, but a lot of what could happen and what will happen depends on the play of the top players on each team. Here are the most important players for every MLS team going into the 2014 MLS season in no particular order.

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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19. D.C. United – Eddie Johnson

Eddie Johnson - MLS
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

DC United was really bad last year. They were so bad last year that they hold the record for least wins in MLS. Eddie Johnson is a proven goal scorer who will make an immediate impact in DC.

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18. Chivas USA – Carlos Bocanegra

Carlos Bocanegra - MLS
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

A game against Chivas USA was basically target practice for opposing teams last season. New addition Andrew Jean-Baptiste will learn from him, so Bocanegra isn’t just essential to this year’s Chivas USA defense, but the future’s as well.

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17. Houston Dynamo – Brad Davis

Brad Davis - MLS
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Houston didn’t do much this offseason, so it’s all going to come down to the familiar play of Brad Davis.

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16. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee

Mike Magee - MLS
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Magee scores goals, wins games and just keeps getting better. Chicago will rely heavily on his goal scoring in 2014.

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15. Columbus Crew – Michael Parkhurst

Michael Parkhurst - MLS
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The defense is going to have trouble with set pieces, and someone has to step up. Parkhurst is the veteran and must figure something out.

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14. Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando

Nick Rimando - MLS
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake has a lot of players that I could say might be the most important, but time and time again Rimando has come through in the clutch for RSL. He’s the best goalkeeper in the league.

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13. Sporting Kansas City – Dom Dwyer

Dom Dwyer - MLS
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

What? I know it’s strange not to see Graham Zusi’s name here, but he and Claudio Bieler are two players we already know are good. Dwyer has to have a good season, because Bieler can’t do it alone.

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12. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski

Wondo - MLS
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Not only is Wondo the most important player for the Earthquakes, he’ll also be competing for a spot on the World Cup roster.

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11. New England Revolution – Diego Fagundez

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

At just 19, this kid can score. Expect big things from him this year.

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10. FC Dallas – Blas Perez

Blas Perez - MLS
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas attack looks completely transformed when he’s playing. As a CF, his play will make or break the team’s offense.

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9. Colorado Rapids – Edson Buddle

Edson Buddle - MLS
Isaiah Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids have a stout defense with Dillon Powers, but Edson Buddle hasn’t exploded yet. He has the talent, but can he start scoring consistently?

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8. Montreal Impact – Marco Di Vaio

Marc Di Vaio - MLS
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Di Vaio is suspended for the first few games of the season, but he is the key cog in Montreal. The Impact are all-around talented, but he’s clearly on another level.

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7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Nigel Reo-Coker

Nigel Reo-Coker - MLS
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Camilo is gone, someone has to start scoring. Reo-Coker has to start providing assists to help out the Whitecaps’ offense.

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6. New York Red Bulls – Tim Cahill

Tim Cahill - MLS
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Thierry Henry is clearly the star of the team, but Cahill is the unsung hero. He should show out this season.

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5. Portland Timbers – Diego Valeri

Diego Valeri - MLS
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Valeri is one of the top players in MLS. The better he plays, the further Portland will go.

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4. Philadelphia Union – Jack McInerney

Jack MacInerney - MLS
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

J-Mac doesn’t have an excuse to have a midseason slump like he did last season. The new additions to the midfield along with the return of Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey should open things up for McInerney, and his goal scoring ability will be what the Union rely on.

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3. Toronto FC – Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley - MLS
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley is the most talented player in MLS. He has to have a big year for Toronto or, on top of having a disappointing season, the MLS will suffer from a loss of credibility.

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2. Seattle Sounders – Clint Dempsey

Clint Demspey - MLS
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many players that are crucial to Seattle’s success this season, but none more than Clint Dempsey. Seattle can’t get beat up by physical Western Conference teams; Dempsey has to play tough.

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1. LA Galaxy – Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane - MLS
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Keane was top five in assists and top five in scoring last season. LA has a good defense and midfield, but can’t afford to lose the production up top from Keane.