Photo by Dave Bernal/ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
The 2014 MLS season is just a month away, meaning it’s not too early to start thinking about the players who will impress us and surprises us in the new season.
In my latest piece for Goal.com, I run down a list of the leading candidates for breakout seasons for each of the league’s 19 teams. Some of the picks are simple enough, while others are long shots or wild cards who could just as easily remain bench options. Some teams have more true candidates for Breakout Player status than others, but even teams stacked with veterans and returning starters have at least one bench options who could break through in 2014.
Give the story a read and let us know what you think about the selections, and which of the players listed you are most excited to see play in 2014.
Before you do that though, take a look at my Top 10 leading candidates for breakout seasons, as well as a 2014 Breakout Best XI:
TOP 10 CANDIDATES FOR BREAKOUT SEASONS
1. GYASI ZARDES
Facing stiff competition for playing time, but Zardes has the talent to score 12-15 goals this year.
2. MAX URRUTI
Perfectly-suited to play alongside Diego Valeri, Gaston Fernandez and Darlington Nagbe, Urruti should be a terror this year and capable of easily netting double-digit goals.
3. OMAR SALGADO
The forgotten man in Vancouver has packed on muscle, and gotten fully healthy. The result could be a monster year for a team that needs someone to pick up the slack after the sale of Camilo Sanvezzo.
4. SHANE O’NEILL
A very steady starter at centerback despite his young age in 2013, O’Neill could make the jump to true force in 2014, whether in central defense or as a defensive midfielder.
5. NICK DELEON
If he can stay healthy, DeLeon should be able to thrive in D.C. United’s revamped lineup, which should help showcase his playmaking ability.
6. DONEIL HENRY
Only 20, Henry already has European scouts sniffing around and he’s looking like a good bet to start in central defense for Toronto FC, which could expedite a move overseas.
7. DILLY DUKA
Already started to break out in 2013, but this could realy be Duka’s season to shine. As much as he might face competition for playing time, Duka is too talented to keep off the field for long.
8. WIL TRAPP
Showed some very good signs in the second half of 2013, and with Gregg Berhalter implementing a system that should get more out of him, Trapp could really boost his stick in 2014.
9. TEAL BUNBURY
Lost in the mix among Sporting KC’s loaded stable of forwards, Bunbury is healthy and ready to reassert his place as one of KC’s key players.
10. JALIL ANIBABA
Finally with a chance to play at his natural central defender role, Anibaba could wind up being a perfect partner for Chad Marshall. With his speed and athleticism helping cover for Marshall’s diminished speed.
BREAKOUT BEST XI
—Omar Salgad0———-Max Urruti————–Gyasi Zardes—–
———————Dilly Duka——Nick DeLeon———————-
Jalil Anibaba—-Doneil Henry—Shane O’Neill——-Kellyn Acosta
What do you think of the list? Which players do you see having surprising monster 2014 seasons?
Share your thoughts below.