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5 Key Players To New York Red Bulls’ 2014 MLS Season

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5 Key Players to New York Red Bulls' 2014 MLS Season

New York Red Bulls 2014 MLS
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls finished the 2013 MLS season on top of the Eastern Conference, earning a No. 1 seed in the 2013 MLS playoffs. They bowed out of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Houston Dynamo and will be eager to get back into the hunt for the MLS Cup in 2014.

NYRB hasn't made that many changes this offseason and should have success. Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill return, and those two players alone are enough to make any team dangerous. Cahill will miss a few games with a trip to Brazil to compete in the World Cup for Australia, so it should be noted that the team may drop a few games while he’s gone.

Also, the MLS Eastern Conference has become much more difficult. Teams like the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and Toronto FC have all had major changes in the offseason and will be much improved off of last season. The mid-level teams are going to take multiple games from the front-runners in the East. Expect there to be a lot more ties instead of wins for teams like NYRB, and expect a lot of games to come down to the play of the defense and the goalie.

Here are the five players who I deem to be the most important to the New York Red Bulls in 2014. Feel free to comment in the section below with the name of a Red Bulls player if you think that I left any players off of this list.

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

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5. Bradley Wright-Phillips

Bradley Wright-Phillips
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Thierry Henry will be out wide like he always is for the club, which means that NYRB is looking for a player to step up and be their go-to striker. Wright-Phillips has shown himself to be shaky in front of goal, wanting to pass or dribble instead of shoot -- he needs to get past that this season.

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4. Jamison Olave

Jamison Olave
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Olave should be this team’s leader in the defense and will have to deal with the much-improved offenses of many teams in the Eastern Conference. Olave’s performance at center-back could make or break New York.

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3. Dax McCarty

Dax McCarty
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s any glaring weakness for the New York Red Bulls, it’s at the fullback positions. McCarty must step up in midfield and try and cut out passes to help the team maintain possession, or they could be exposed on the sides. He’s also a key distributor for the team.

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2. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry MLS
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Henry is a legendary player who continues to have top-level speed and ability to score goals despite being 36. The danger he poses opens up a lot of opportunities for other players for NYRB. Don’t expect him to slow down this season.

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1. Tim Cahill

Tim Cahill MLS
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cahill may take a slight back seat to Henry, but he is one of the best midfielders in MLS. Not only is he a provider, but he is one of the top three or four players at winning the ball in the air in MLS. His goals, assists and vision make this team tick.