10 Players Who Could Take MLS Forward in 2014
Major League Soccer continues to grow year after year, but it still struggles to both develop and then keep promising young talent.
Still, 2013 was a great year for the league's youngsters, producing a great crop who can take the league forward heading in the 2014 season.
Trying to identify such players can be difficult because at such a young age, their consistency can vary wildly.
To become the type of players who can build the league's reputation, they must have that rare combination of talent and flair. They are also far more likely to be attacking players because, after all, the average fan has a much greater appreciation for attacking play than for great defense.
Here are 10 young guns who aren't on most fans' radars, but could be the next big thing in MLS.
A natural forward who Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena often played on the wing, Gyasi Zardes has potential coming out of his ears. He finished his rookie campaign with four goals and four assists and was fourth in MLS Rookie of the Year voting.
Although he's only 18 years old, Diego Fagundez already has three MLS seasons under his belt. The 2013 season was his best yet, as he helped a young New England Revolution squad to the MLS playoffs with his 13 goals and seven assists.
Fagundez is a good bet to be one of the league's future stars.
Deshorn Brown, a 23-year-old Jamaican forward with the Colorado Rapids, scored a rookie-leading 10 goals in 2013. He finished second in league MVP voting and looks set to be one of MLS' best attackers for years to come.
English footballer Dom Dwyer may not be long for MLS, but if the 23-year-old stays, he could be a star.
He started the year on loan with USL PRO side Orlando City, but once he was recalled by Sporting Kansas City, Dwyer became a fixture in the lineup. By the end of the year, he was even regularly starting over designated player Claudio Bieler.
Kelyn Rowe had an outstanding sophomore MLS season in 2013, finishing with eight goals and nine assists.
He helped lead the New England Revolution into the MLS playoffs, and many fans were shocked he was not called into Jurgen Klinsmann's recent United States men's national team January camp.
In 2012, Nick DeLeon finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. His 2013 was much quieter, in part because D.C. United were just plain awful. But if he can regain his rookie form, he has the talent to be a star.
The Portland Timbers' Darlington Nagbe is a three-year MLS veteran, but 2013 was a breakout year for him, as he finished with 10 goals, many of them highlight-reel quality.
Nagbe's technical quality is among the best in the league, and under the tutelage of his former college coach, Caleb Porter, Nagbe is poised for an even bigger 2014.
Luis Gil is only 20 years old but already has three seasons of experience in Major League Soccer. He has been getting better every year and has slowly integrated himself as a regular starter on one of the most consistent and best teams in the league, Real Salt Lake.
Gil was also a standout for the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup this summer and was recently called into Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT January camp.
The Vancouver Whitecaps' Camilo Sanvezzo was MLS' leading scorer in 2013 with 22 tallies, and at 25 years old, he could be the league's next superstar.
That is, of course, assuming he stays in the league. He's been linked with numerous teams this offseason, most recently with Queretaro in Liga MX, according to ESPN Deportes (h/t Cam Tucker of Metro Vancouver).
Dillon Powers enjoyed a magical rookie campaign in 2013, becoming a regular starter in the Colorado Rapids' midfield and finishing the season with five goals and six assists.
Powers won MLS Rookie of the Year for his efforts.
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