With every season comes new faces, and in Major Legue Soccer most of those new faces come from the annual SuperDraft held in January. Just as in years before I will be tracking the rookies as they go through their first year. Even more so I’ll be tracking the best ones who I think will be in line for the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season.
Going into the new season I see a few guys ahead of the rest that are in line right now for that ROY award. But there are also a few others that are worth mentioning that may surprise you when it is all said and done.
(Note: there is no real order to this, so keep that in mind)
The First Five
1. Danny Mwanga (Philadelphia Union): If Mwanga lives up to his number one pick hype then expect plenty of good things from this youngster. Philadelphia will need him to produce early and often this year as their offense has loads of question marks surrounding it. But from what I’ve heard the kid has some special qualities about him which make me think he’ll be living up to his hype.
2. Tony Tchani (New York Red Bulls): If you’ve never see this kid play then you are in for a real treat when you finally do. He’s not going to set the world on fire with a lot of goals or assists but what he does is control the middle of the park and make life easier for his teammates.
3. Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes): He hasn’t seen a whole lot of time this preseason with his club but look for him to make a big difference for a defense that was the league’s worst in 2009.
4. Teal Bunbury (Kansas City Wizards): Given the amount of new talent in KC I do worry about Bunbury getting a lot of playing time this year but if he finds himself on the field he’ll manage fine. He’s a natural goals scorer and the Wizards need every bit of that this year to stay competitive.
5. Zach Lyod (FC Dallas): Of the first five picks in the Draft (and on this board really), Loyd may be the most MLS-ready of the bunch. Look for a lot of playing time out of him this year. If he helps Dallas’ defense like I think he will then look for him to get plenty of votes for ROY.
The Next Five Out
1. Zach Schilawski (New England Revolution): The Revs need a goal scorer and I do believe Schilawski is the answer they’ve been looking for here.
2. Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls): He’s this year’s Darrius Barnes folks. No hype but highly underrated.
3. Collen Warner (Real Salt Lake): Another highly underrated player out west, look for Warner to get his fair share of playing time for Jason Kreis this season.
4. Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union): I honestly believe we’ll see a lot of this kid this season. If he produces and grows quickly (like I believe he will) then expect him to get a lot more pub for this award.
5. David Estrada (Seattle Sounders FC): Some were shocked the Sounders reached high for this kid but I’m starting to think it wasn’t a big reach after all.