The List: 2012 Breakout Players

The List: 2012 Breakout Players

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 24, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, Features

Ryan Johnson could have a big season ahead with Toronto FC. (Getty Images)

Each season in Major League Soccer there are a number of players that seemingly come out of nowhere to enjoy a big season. A couple years ago it was Chris Wondolowski to last season with Dominic Oduro finally finding his way in the Windy City with the Fire.

Obviously it is always hard to tell who will breakout like Wondo and Oduro. Some guys have shown talent before like Oduro but haven’t been in the right set up for their skill sets to show it. Others are just waiting for their time really to get solid minutes and show the league what only few have been able to see in training and in reserve league games.

So who will it be this year? Below are a couple guys that could have big seasons for their respective clubs if the chips fall in the right way for them.

Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew) – With names like Robbie Rodgers and Emmanuel Ekpo gone, the midfield for the Crew will look drastically different in 2012. The only thing that won’t change is Duka. I’d expect the 22-year old to come into his own this season and contribute in a big way to get the Crew in the playoffs once again.

Andrew Wiedeman (FC Dallas) – A bit of a hometown pick for me but I think this one could be a good one. Wiedeman has had a strong preseason thus far and is putting himself in the discussion to compete for some serious playing time this season. With guys like David Ferreira returning from injury and newcomers like Blas Perez snatching goals, look for Wiedeman to be that spark for Dallas that was missing in 2011.

Justin Braun (Montreal Impact) – I’ve honestly been waiting for a couple years now for Braun to really burst out on the scene. He has shown moments over the last couple years with Chivas USA that he can be dangerous. I think a new location and coach could really help him out though this year. He’s certainly a player to watch out for.

Bright Dike (Portland Timbers) – He’s finally healthy and if he can get solid minutes this season I think he could really be a difference maker for the Timbers. A lot of attention will be placed on newcomer Kris Boyd and that should free a player like Dike up to bag a few goals this season.

Sammy Ochoa (Seattle Sounders)  – Even with Fredy Montero and now Eddie Johnson, I see Ochoa as a breakout guy. This will be his first full season with the club and now that Mike Fucito is gone (sorry Sounders fans, I know you’re still mourning that one), Ochoa should be able to sneak in and gain plenty of solid minutes this year.

Ryan Johnson (Toronto FC) – Here is another guy that has shown some glimpses in the past. I think a full season with TFC will certainly help push him out even more. With the spotlight being on Danny Koevermans this season, look for Johnson (and Joao Plata for that matter) to get plenty of quality chances on goal. The potential has been there for years folks.


  • Feb 24 2012
Still wishing that Seattle would have let Montreal take Neagle in the expansion draft, then traded Riley for Braun and kept Fucito.  I think that would have been better than EJ being here, but we'll see.
  • Feb 24 2012
hmm. I must say I disagree with the list. I just don't see how Dike or Ochoa get on the field. I also am skeptical of how much time Johnson will get. Braun led Chivas with 9 goals last season so that seems to be a strange pick for breakout but I also don't think he will have as many options to score this year for Montreal. Montreal will have a lot of growing pains this season and Jesse Marsh gives me a bad feeling as a coach, he is new but already gives an impression of being outdated (I also am not a Bob B hater, I actually like Bradley but I don't feel good about Marsh).  Duka seems like a star in the making but who will score for that team?  I am a Union fan so this is a little bias like Weidman but I think Danny Mwanga is a dark horse for the golden boot this year. Tough to be breakout when you're a former 1st overall pick but he has 12 goals in his 2 year career and I think he will supersede that total in this season alone.  I also think Paulo Jr for RSL has the potential to score a ton of goals if given the minutes and if he can stay healthy. 
    Drew Epperley
    • Feb 24 2012
    Don't get too caught up in how much PT some guys will or won't get here. Not many thought Oduro would get the time that he did last year and look what happened.  As for a golden boot race list, if I do one Mwanga will likely be on it. Totally agree with you that this could be his year. 
  • Feb 24 2012
Mmmmm...looks like Tommy Meyer is gonna be thrown in the deep in by Arena.  If he swims alongside AJ DeLaGarza, he'll be a strong rookie of the year candidate. 
    Drew Epperley
    • Feb 24 2012
    Yup, I'll be doing a rookies post soon enough as well. I tried to stay clear of rookies in this list for that reason.