Eleven To Watch For This Season

Eleven To Watch For This Season

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 12, 2008

While many sites out there have begun listing players who they think people should be on the look out for this year, I have my own for you. Honestly what got me thinking of this was an article on TV Sports Daily. They list 11 guys that people need to be on the look out for this season, and while they are all quality guys none of them are names we haven’t heard of before.

Shouldn’t lists like this include names we don’t know that should have a breakout season? Yes. While I don’t disagree with the article, I think they wasted their time writing something that most soccer fans already know (then again look at who wrote it, does anyone read TV Sports Daily anyways?). Hell, I would go as far to say that even non-fans already know a couple of those names on that list as it is right now.

Their list included:

  1. David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy
  2. Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Chicago Fire
  3. Brad Guzan, Chivas USA
  4. Marcelo Gallardo, DC United
  5. Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution
  6. Christian Gomez, Colorado Rapids
  7. Jozy Altidore, New York Red Bulls
  8. Juan Toja, FC Dallas
  9. Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution
  10. Maurice Edu, Toronto FC
  11. Michael Parkhurst, New England Revolution

As you can see, all are names that we all know around this league. Not exactly a watch list in the right sense. We know to look out for these guys but what about an 11 that we really need to keep our eyes out for? I have that for you all. Feel free to include your own either through email or comments below.

1. Franco Niell, DC United

As I mentioned earlier in my DC preview, Niell is a guy that will get plenty of touches on the ball this season due to the amount of attention that guys like Marcelo Gallardo and Luciano Emilio get. Niells’ speed should be a difference maker for DC this season and could very well have the most impact of any of the new players on DC’s roster this year.

2. Raphael Wicky, Chivas USA

Those who know the international soccer scene will know of Wicky but I would say the average MLS fan won’t know of him going into this season. Wicky adds the depth to the Chivas midfield that was lacking last year. If Wicky can overcome the European crash that some players go through in coming to the MLS, he will end up as one of the better signings this offseason.

3. Franco Caraccio, Houston Dynamo

Caraccio could either be the biggest waste for Houston or the biggest signing for the Orange this season. He is young, raw, and has plenty of upside to his game. I think the fact that Dominic Kinnear went against his normal ways of signing players in the league to get an unknown tells me that this kid has something special in him that we don’t know of yet. I think he will be good along side Brian Ching and Dwayne de Rosario and will learn from those two as well as the rest of the veterans on that roster.

4. Kenny Mansally, New England Revolution

New England is in an interesting spot. They weren’t able to use Mansally last season due to visa issues but look for this kid to work his way into a starting role with Taylor Twellman. This kid has a speed and some really good ball skills that will really help out Twellman this season. Also he is still very young so he is considered a work-in-project as far as the Revs are concerned.

5. Andre Rocha, FC Dallas

A lot of people will see just why Dallas asked for this kid on loan from their partner club in Brazil. Rocha will free up guys like Juan Toja and Dax McCarty more than people at Pizza Hut Park will even realize. Also he is very talented on the ball which means that is less pressure on a defense that still needs work. The more ball control for Dallas the better and Rocha will help out in that, which should also translate into more scoring.

6. Tomasz Frankowski, Chicago Fire

Most of my Chicago readers are probably eager to see this guy on the field this season for the Fire. I’ve had a few Polish readers send in emails (thankfully in English) telling me just how good this guy really is. If he is anything like those emails in terms of leadership and actual scoring then the Fire will be back in the playoffs and will be fighting it out with New England and DC in the east. Watch how he works out with Blanco, that will be the real telling story on this guy.

7. Julius James, Toronto FC

I’ve seen this kid play a few times when he was at UConn and I can tell you all he will be a really good player in this league. Toronto got lucky to draft him when they did because they desperately needed a player like James in the defense and in the defensive midfield. James can play in either spots and will this season. When Maurice Edu leaves for Olympic duty look for James to get plenty of minutes in his place.

8. Colin Clarke, Colorado Rapids

Clarke is a guy that should be able to score 8 goals and have 12 or 13 assists this season. With the addition of Christian Gomez to the Rapids’s midfield, look for Clarke to get more chances to do just that this year on the left side of the field. His speed will really to a number, especially at home on that wide field against other clubs. It all comes down to who is scoring for the Rapids this season though and if Fernando Clavijo can actually coach this kid into the special player that he should be.

9. Ivan Trujillo, Kansas City Wizards

I would expect Trujillo to come off the bench to start the season now that the Wizards have Claudio Lopez but I am really eager to see if this kid really is worth the transfer that KC went out and did here with him. He is still pretty young (25) and should be able to produce in this league. Looking at his stats he is due to but again if his stats speak for themselves we may only see two or three goals from him. In other words the better he does I think the better the Wizards will be. He won’t be a flashy player or a big name in this league but his production will speak a lot about the Wizards this season.

10. Yura Movsisyan, Real Salt Lake

I was kind of surprised to see KC trade this kid away last year but their loss is RSL’s gain I think. Movsisyan has to become the number one striker for this club I think, even with the club having Robbie Findley and Argentine forward Fabian Espindola. Reason why I say that is because he was a Generation adidas player when he was drafted in 2006 and he is a big target forward that should do well with the cast of players that RSL has with him now. In other words, I think he is due for a break out season.

11. Andy Iro, Columbus Crew

Iro should be a rookie that could contend for the Rookie of the Year honor this season. He will get loads of playing time with the Crew since he is young and has the skill to start in a lineup that needs youth in defense. His numbers won’t be flashy but if he steps into a starting role early then the Crew could end up with one of the better defenses in the league.