The List: Top X-Factors For 2012

The List: Top X-Factors For 2012

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 28, 2012
  • 1 Comments
  • 2012 MLS Season, Features

Freddy Adu's progression in 2012 will be key for a Union squad wanting titles. (Getty Images)

Moving on in our preseason lists, so far I’ve looked at rookies, breakout players and dark horse MVP candidates. Today I will be diving into a list of players who could potentially be the make or break guys for their respective teams this season.

In other words, the X-Factors.

Like many writers out there, I fall unto the phrase “as he goes, so does his team” a lot during the course of a season. Each team is a little different and unfortunately I don’t have the time to do all 19 clubs today in this list but if you feel like your guy is overlooked here, just put his name in the comments below.

(Again, no real order to the list, so don’t get caught up in the numbering here!)

1. Blas Perez (FC Dallas) – Some would think it is David Ferreira and his health but to me it comes down to Perez for FC Dallas. Perez was brought in to fill the massive whole up top for Schellas Hyndman and if he can contribute the 10-15 goals that most around Dallas expect him to, then expect big things from this club. There is a lot of things riding on this big, hulking forward to produce.

2. Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) – This midfielder took a massive leap forward last year in KC but he’ll need to progress even more should this team want to really contend for a MLS Cup. I don’t think SKC needs his goals nearly as much as his distribution in the midfield. Keeping guys like Teal Bunbury and CJ Sapong happy will be key but so will keeping the pressure off a defense that was fairly leaky last year.

3. Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers) – Captain Jack will have some interesting challenges in year two with the Timbers. He’ll have a new partner in the midfield in Franck Songo’o and a new striker to feed the ball to in Kris Boyd. Keeping everyone on the same page will be key, especially early on. I’d expect some growing pains from this group early on but once they get on the same page they could be very entertaining to watch.

4. Tressor Moreno (San Jose Earthquakes) – He’s been dubbed the first true No. 10 since the Quakes were reborn in 2008. That is a ton of pressure to take into a new season for a guy that isn’t that big in his size (only 5-8 and 160 pounds).

5. Rafa Marquez (New York Red Bulls) – He’s apparently back in the midfield, where he belongs. New York needs Marquez to have a good season here and be the main guy to drive this club (not Thierry Henry). If he doesn’t then expect more of the same that made their 2011 season so frustrating to watch.

6. Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union) – Still hard to believe that he is still a young kid but if he can put together a full season with this club (yes a full season!) then I think his career and the Union may be on track to do very well this year.

7. Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution) – The Revs are going to be in rebuilding mode for the majority of this season but one thing should remain consistent, and that is the play of Feilhaber. If he can get his assist numbers up and take the pressure off Shalrie Joseph, I think this club could make plenty of strides in 2012.

 

  • David H

    SKC’s defense was not fairly leaky last year after the first 10 games. After the roadtrip, the defense was pretty much locked down. If you look at the actual statistics, the defense didn’t let in very many goals. Just a few dramatic ones that people remember (and forget about the dominant games).