Just as with any season, there is a slew of new players worth noting. Naturally most of these players will be in the early discussions for the league’s Newcomer of the Year award later this year but given how that award has lately gone to midseason additions this may be a post we’ll have to revisit this summer.
That being said, there are plenty of names worth plucking out to talk about as we gear up for First Kick this weekend.
Here are some players I will be keeping an eye on this season as they learn to adapt to MLS and it’s long season.
Diego Calderón (Colorado Rapids, transfer from LDU Quito) – A new defender for the Rapids this season, Calderon expects to be a big piece in Oscar Pareja’s back line with Drew Moor. If he can adapt to the speed and physical nature of MLS early, I’d imagine he’ll be one of the more underrated signings from this offseason.
Agustín Viana (Columbus Crew – Discovery/Bella Vista) – The Crew have a couple newcomers that appear to be big players for them this season. Viana already looks like he’ll be a strong addition to their midfield. His play during the Disney Cup last week showed that he has adapted to some of the speed already. I won’t proclaim him as the next big thing yet in Columbus but early signs are good.
Raúl Fernández (FC Dallas – Free transfer from Nice) – Anytime a team signs a national team keeper from a South American country it should be pointed out. He hasn’t won the starting job yet from Chris Seitz but given what I’ve seen out of him this preseason, he’ll do very well in MLS.
Andrea Pisanu (Montreal Impact – loan from Bologna) - I know I was rough on the Impact in my season preview of them but watching their last two Disney games did give me some hope in them. Pisanu could be just the guy in the midfield that helps the attack and sets up Marco Di Vaio. This is a counter attack team if there ever was one and Pisanu is the right guy to lead the attacking part of the midfield.
Juninho Pernambucano (New York Red Bulls – free transfer from Vasco da Gama) – Landing a veteran player like this without a DP tag was a great move by the Red Bulls. As long as the 37-year old can adapt to the MLS speed and physical play, he’ll be possibly the early front runner for most in the Newcomer of the Year race.
Ryan Miller (Portland Timbers – transfer from Halmstads) – I know they added Mikel Silvestre to their defense as well but Miller poses a better addition in my mind. I look for him to be a bigger force in the back through the season.
Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC – transfer from LDU Quito) – If KC is going to progress and get to a MLS Cup, it will have to be due to this man in the midfield. He quieted some concerns over the weekend about his ability to create and score chances. Once he gets fully adapted to his midfield group, I see him leading this club to a big year.