Top 10 Strikers to Watch in MLS This Season

Peter BrownellContributor IMarch 6, 2013

Top 10 Strikers to Watch in MLS This Season

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    Major League Soccer is stocked with brilliant and dangerous strikers. 

    As MLS continues to grow in talent and reputation, goal scorers from across the world are flocking to the states to ply their trade in the 18-year-old league. 

    This slideshow presents the top-10 strikers to watch this season and details what makes these specific soccer players so talented.

    It is a diverse list in terms of style, technique and ability.  Each striker offers various and different skills that make them unique.

    While there are other players who could be considered for inclusion, there is no doubt that the strikers selected are here worthy.  Simply put, these athletes are special.  

New York Red Bulls: Thierry Henry

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    Fans of New York Red Bulls know that Thierry Henry is full of surprises, wonderful surprises.

    Whether he is smashing a corner flag after a well-earned one touch finish or scoring one of the most talked about goals in MLS history, his Olimpico, Henry is a unique talent.

    The Frenchman combines a superior soccer intelligence with world class touch and vision.  Rarely does Henry strike on goal for power, preferring one touch efforts with the inside of his foot.

    His placement is precise.  His passion is visible.

    Coming off his best season last year, Henry is primed for another dominant MLS campaign. 

San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski

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    Chris Wondolowski might be the most positionally aware striker in MLS. 

    The American is by no means physically imposing.  He does not burn defenders with pace or expert dribbling.  Where Wondolowski finds his joy is inside the most dangerous area of the pitch, the opposition's 18-yard-box.

    The clever Wondolowski seems to always been in the perfect position to score goals.  His movement off the ball is exceptional.  Even John Terry thinks so.

    Be it with his head, foot or whatever part of his body needs employing, Wondolowski fearlessly sticks himself into spots other strikers shy away from.

    Wondolowski's season last year placed him in the MLS record book.  His 27 goals tied Roy Lassiter for the most ever during the regular season.  As a result, he was rightfully tagged as the MLS MVP and was the MLS Golden Boot winner.

    It should be fantastic to see him chase the record again this year.

Los Angeles Galaxy: Robbie Keane

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    Robbie Keane is comfortably slicing up MLS defenders with ease.  The Irishman enters his third season in the states with two MLS Cups and abilities that MLS back lines have rarely ever seen.

    Keane can do it all.  His mazy, cut-heavy dribbling unbalances defenders in one-on-one situations.  His passing is incisive, he threads though balls that most MLS strikers do not even dream of inventing.  And his finishing is calculated, he does not rush when he is in the box but bides his time and scores when an an opportunity presents itself.

    David Beckham is in Paris and Landon Donovan is on a break (for now).  This is Keane's team, as it should be.  He is a good bet to win the Golden Boot and MVP awards this season.

Real Salt Lake: Alvaro Saborio

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    Alvaro Saborio is one of the more underrated strikers in MLS right now. 

    He did a nice job of reminding fans just how dangerous he can be in Real Salt Lake's first game of the season on Sunday.  Saborio nailed both goals in a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

    Saborio showed off his strength and speed, muscling off defenders to maintain possession in tight areas.  He can track down longer balls with his pace and fitness, too. 

    With Fabian Espindola playing for New York, much of the finishing responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Saborio.  His diverse capabilities will help him thrive for a crafty Real Salt Lake side.

FC Dallas: Kenny Cooper

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    Kenny Cooper scored 18 goals for New York last season.  His reward?  A trade for allocation money to a team he is very familiar with, FC Dallas.

    Just one look at Cooper and it is clear he is a physically imposing striker.  Cooper is more than just a massive frame, though.  He has excellent feet and a keen sense of how to run off other strikers.

    He does not necessarily barrel though defenders, although he can. Rather, Cooper is smarter than he may appear.  The recipient of some heady passes from Henry last year, Cooper will need to adjust to new teammates in Dallas.

    If he can connect as naturally with the likes of Blas Perez and David Ferreira, Cooper should have no problem scoring in bunches once again.

Vancouver Whitecaps: Darren Mattocks

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    Darren Mattocks makes a solid case for being the most athletic striker in MLS.  He proved as much with his poster-worthy goal last season when he literally jumped over Toronto FC defender Logan Emory for one of the most stunning goals in league history.

    Mattocks is a burner, no question about it.  He is best when the ball is at his feet and he is going forward at defenders with pace. 

    After a solid rookie campaign, Mattocks steps into the spotlight this year and will be expected to give opposing defenses fits with straight runs, aerial dominance and one-on-one ability.

Seattle Sounders: Eddie Johnson

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    Eddie Johnson might be the best finisher with his head in MLS.  Maybe even for the U.S. national team, too.  Johnson re-emerged last season from relative irrelevance and provided Seattle with a much needed target striker.

    Not only can Johnson score with his head with ease but his game possesses speed and dribbling to boot.  His timing is excellent on runs into the box and his accuracy on close attempts is near perfect.  He can pick out the lower or upper corner with regularity.

    Former strike partner, Fredy Montero, is in Colombia.  Johnson will need to shoulder as much of the scoring burden as he can bare for Seattle.  The U.S. international should have no trouble doing so.

Columbus Crew: Federico Higuaín

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    Federico Higuain made an instant impact when he arrived on the MLS scene last season.  The Argentinian brings a uniquely imaginative distribution game to soccer in the U.S. 

    Higuain is a dead ball specialist, proving as much throughout last season.  He can curl a beautiful ball into dangerous areas with the inside of his foot or rip through the center of the ball with his laces, whatever he deems necessary given a situation.

    The Crew's third Designated Player fits in nicely in behind a deep striker and ahead of two more defensive minded midfielders.  His game combines pretty passing and long range finishing. 

    Look for Higuain to build on his first season in MLS with more brilliance this year.

New England Revolution: Jerry Bengtson

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    Fans of the U.S. national team will remember the dagger Jerry Bengtson delivered with his game-winning goal in their recent qualifier against Honduras.  If they watch the New England Revolution, they are sure to see more goals from a rising star in MLS.

    Bengston is a technical forward that can combine nicely with midfielders.  His combination play is fluid.  His first and second touch are both rarely misplaced. 

    The Honduran international is a crucial piece in New England's pursuit of an Eastern Conference playoff spot.  If they can get him the ball in decent spots, Bengston should be threat every time he steps on the pitch.

    He is the rare player that can operate effectively in tight spots with defenders surrounding him.

Los Angeles Galaxy: Landon Donovan

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    Landon Donovan might be on hiatus, but when he returns one of the best players in the history of the United States will likely tear apart opposing defenses once again. 

    Donovan's abilities are clear.  He is as fast as it gets with the ball at his feet going forward, he creates beautiful chances with expert vision and he can finish in almost any situation.

    Since inking with the Galaxy, Keane has been a particularly synced partner with Donovan up top.  The two are always on the same page and play a highly intellectual brand of soccer.  Their prolific dummy runs and one touch soccer is special to watch.

    For fans of quality play in MLS, Donovan's return is highly anticipated.  Rightfully so, he is special.