Billy’s Soccer Beat
While it’s easy to get caught up in all the basketball, hockey, and European soccer action happening around the globe right now, MLS season is soon upon us. In just three short weeks, the American domestic league will take the field, and these three men will look to be the best player in the entire league.
Kaka MF Orlando City SC
While an MVP rarely comes from an expansion team in its inaugural season, Kaka may be the exception to this rule.
The Brazilian midfielder is a former UEFA player of the year and will look to make his mark early as the engine behind the Orlando City attack. Kaka has made it clear that his goal this season is to take home the MLS Cup to Orlando, and with a team assembled mainly from the expansion draft and USL Pro, Kaka may be the most important player on any team in the entire MLS. While I certainly think this is a long shot, do not count out the Brazilian playmaker as an early candidate for MVP. The playoff hopes of his new club may depend on him being that special of a player.
Clint Dempsey MF Seattle Sounders
When Dempsey initially came to MLS two years ago; people were disappointed with his performance.
Last season, he really showed us what he is capable of. This coming season, I see him kicking it into another gear. His partnership and relationship with Obafemi Martens blossomed to new heights last season, and with another preseason training camp under their belts, I expect Martens and Dempsey to link up even more this season. Additionally, Dempsey has exemplified competitiveness from an American soccer perspective since bursting on the scene with the New England Revolution in the early 2000s, so I can’t imagine the playoff loss to the LA Galaxy sat particularly well with Dempsey over the offseason.
I expect a fiery Clint Dempsey to take the field for Seattle this season, with his though on just one thing: winning Seattle’s first MLS Cup. While the U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield are nice, the MLS Cup is a different beast entirely. In order for Seattle to contend for the trophy in a deep Western Conference, Dempsey will need to play at an MVP level. I fully expect the U.S. captain to be more than up to the challenge.
Michael Bradley MF Toronto FC
It seems everything is coming into place for Michael Bradley. During January camp, Jurgen Klinsmann remarked that Bradley was by far the fittest national team player in the United States. In Toronto, locker room cancer Jermaine Defoe is out, and in his place, TFC have added Jozy Altidore, Bradley’s U.S. teammate, and Sebastian Giovinco, the creative Italian winger most know for his play during Euro 2012 and time with Juventus. Bradley, who played in Serie A for many years, should have no problem meshing with his new teammates.
As the de facto anchor of a TFC machine hell bent on making the playoffs for the first time in years, Bradley has all the tools he will need to produce beautiful passes, attacking runs, and (hopefully for TFC fans) a number of assists to teammate Jozy Altidore.
I expect a very big year out of Bradley in MLS, and in the preseason he is my first pick to take home the MVP nod this season. National team fans should be ecstatic at the thought of Jozy and Bradley in the same locker room, and I expect the tandem to work out beautifully. Just a few more weeks until the season kicks off.