20 Players Sure to Dominate MLS in 2014
20 MLS Players Looking to Dominate
After one of the busiest offseasons in MLS it is nice to finally talk about play on the field as kick off is only a week away. Most teams enter the season at full strength with only a few injuries impacting the start of the season. International duty will break up the rosters of some MLS teams but the impact players will be in fine form all season long. Some on this list have a chance to breakout with a new team while others continue to build on a good 2013. One thing is clear, there will be dominate performances all over the league in 2014.
There are some obvious omissions from this list because they are expected to dominate. Players like Thierry Henry and Michael Bradley are supposed to do big things on the field. Even though Clint Dempsey did not have a good stint in 2013, he should rebound this season in a World Cup year. At least that is what Seattle Sounders' fans hope.
While there are some players on this list that have one job to do and do it very well, the majority of the players are versatile. They can provide pace on the wings or find the right spot on the back post. Some are defenders that clean up their area well but can make a great target on a set piece. You'll also notice a lot of these players on the five key player articles coming to the soccer section this week.
Barring injury these players should be able to find their game week after week in MLS. Solid play, dependability and lots of highlights are expected. Let us know what you think about these dominate players and continue to check out our own march to the match full of previews and analysis leading up to the season kickoff on March 8.
20. Tony Cascio
The Houston Dynamo started a trend by executing the first intra-squad loan and they may have found a gem in Tony Cascio. Cascio has fared well in preseason and should see plenty of minutes for Houston. Once he creates more chemistry with the Dynamo midfield he should become an every week starter.
19. Teal Bunbury
The New England Revolution have made solid moves to set up their team for a competitive season and getting Teal Bunbury was a good move for all parties. Bunbury needed a new climate to thrive and he has his chance in New England. He will also be in front of a solid midfield that should create plenty of chances. It will be up to Bunbury to be in the right place.
18. Sal Zizzo
The Bunbury move is due in part to a trade for Sal Zizzo by Sporting Kansas City. He has showed ability to score goals in the preseason and he will provide plenty of depth through the midfield in a heavy schedule.
17. Nick DeLeon
Things are looking up in the nation's capital as D.C. United are a revamped side from 2013. Nick DeLeon battled injuries and was plagued by poor play in 2013. The poor play was a team-wide epidemic. Now DeLeon is fully recovered from a hamstring injury and hopes to return to his 2012 rookie form.
16. Zac MacMath
The keeper gets an undue amount of criticism, but Zac MacMath will have plenty of motivation this season for the Philadelphia Union. MacMath will have been challenged all preseason by a top rookie and wants to start a streak of double-digit shutouts.
15. Kelyn Rowe
Beside showing us one of the better goal celebrations in MLS, Kelyn Rowe became more consistent in 2013. He was good for the occasional long range goal and finished sixth in the league in assists. The New England Revolution will count on him again this year as part of a very strong midfield. If his play in preseason is any indication, Rowe is ready to take another step forward and show the fans more of the Rowe boat.
14. Kekuta Manneh
The Vancouver Whitecaps may have some struggles this year learning a new system, but coach Carl Robinson knows he doesn't want to through too much at Kekuta Manneh. He just wants to let the youngster from Gambia play. Manneh scored a hat trick against Seattle at the end of 2013 to set the tone for this year.
13. Shea Salinas
Injuries got in the way of Shea Salinas last year but he still led the San Jose Earthquakes in assists. He has become one of the better crossers in the game and will most likely take the set pieces for the Quakes. The veteran was rewarded with a new contract this offseason.
12. Erick Torres
The only thing about Erick Torres' dominance is that it will only last until June in MLS. As part of the MLS purchase of Chivas USA all loaned players will return to their original team. His debut in MLS was the first win for Chivas USA in 15 matches and he scored seven times in his first nine matches. This included a highlight reel bicycle kick against Vancouver. "Cubo" has a full preseason of preparation now so enjoy him while you can.
11. Dom Dwyer
It's pretty good to win two different league championships in one year and now Dom Dwyer will be a mainstay for Sporting Kansas City in their title defense. Dwyer made his presence felt during the playoff run and will have to find more goals in a very busy schedule for SKC.
10. Max Urruti
After being traded to the Portland Timbers in September Max Urruti has grown comfortable in a system similar to those he played in in Argentina. Urruti will be a finisher for the Timbers. They have pace and an Argentine flair all over the field. He fits well with the system in Portland and should be over the initial adjustment period.
9. Deshorn Brown
Rookie of the Year runner up Deshorn Brown has been on a roll in preseason play scoring four goals. He will have a chance to play even more minutes this season for the Colorado Rapids. Brown participated in a training program in Spain before coming back to MLS and says he learned a lot about mental preparation. He will also have some international duty with Jamaica this year which could increase an already growing confidence level.
8. Mauro Rosales
Getting Mauro Rosales was a great move by Chivas USA. It will be his job to spark the attack as he looks to build on his great assist record. He also has skills on set pieces that make him a threat to score. Chivas has talent up front so Rosales can make them better with his service and that is exactly what we should see.
7. Chris Schuler
The imposing center back for Real Salt Lake, Chris Schuler, needs to stay healthy so he can dominate. In 16 matches in the regular season, Schuler showed his keen ability to stop an attack. Schuler then emerged in the playoffs as a strong defensive force and someone that can get forward on a set piece and score. His performance may have even gotten him on national team radar.
6. Luis Silva
It was an up and down preseason for Luis Silva as D.C. United claimed the Carolina Challenge Cup. There is a new tactical outlook in D.C. and that is to partially utilize the skills of Silva better. With Chris Pontius still dealing with injuries, Silva's responsibilities grow. His best talent is to attack and as long as the confidence is there, Silva should be a force.
5. Benji Joya
When playing in Liga MX Benji Joya had trouble remaining consistent enough to get minutes but will now have a chance to flourish for the Chicago Fire. He has plenty of international experience and he figures to emerge as a starter for the Fire. He has already found the scoring touch in the preseason and is dynamic enough to change the game.
4. Luis Gil
After his first senior international camp Luis Gil figures to complete a good midfield with Real Salt Lake. He is being heralded as a possible franchise player. Gil was 16 years old when he signed with RSL and has grown into a better player each year. As his playing time has increased so has his production and there is no reason for that the change this year.
3. Amobi Okugo
For the Philadelphia Union, Amobi Okugo is now the leader on the back line. He now has a great partner in Austin Berry that will continue to push Okugo to be better. With Maurice Edu in front of the defense Okugo can play his own style and take more gambles. His athleticism and growing understanding of the game will make those gambles pay off.
2. Federico Higuain
Most know how Federico Higuain can finish. He is also scoring in the preseason and playing the full 90. Goal scoring and assist numbers were up last season and the trend should continue. In a new system Higuain is still the leader and must lead by example.
1. Mike Magee
Regardless of the news that Mike Magee was holding out for a new deal he can still dominate and repeat his MVP season. Chicago brass continue to dispute that news and say they kept in contact with Magee while he was away. He is back in camp and will ask for that new deal with his play. Magee is still trying to get into full fitness but is said to look sharp. He made the Chicago Fire a much better team last year and he enjoys playing there. Adding Joya to the mix means more creativity around Magee, which is a good thing for Fire fans.