While MLS may not have a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, it still boasts plenty of exciting of talent to watch and, if you’re a U.S. national team fan, prospects worth fawning over and if you are a fan of the game, some great soccer players call MLS home. Below are 10 players to keep an eye out in 2017.
- Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Ever since coming to Toronto, Giovinco has been one of the marquee players in MLS. He was the league MVP in 2015, and for good reason. He might have not won the 2016 award, but if you ask the right people they’ll tell you how he had a much better season than David Villa (the 2016 MVP). He’s declined offers from elsewhere, including the deep pockets of China, and says he’s committed to MLS. If his good form continues, Toronto FC games are appointment viewing.
- Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake)
This is one of the most interesting players in 2017. The 19-year-old is probably only familiar to those who follow the U-20 USMNT, however Lennon is on loan from Liverpool’s U23s, and he could potentially push for a starting spot on a Real Salt Lake team that is skewing a bit young. It’s not clear what will happen at the end of his loan, but if he does well with RSL and returns to Liverpool, it would be the first loan of its kind where a European club asked an MLS club to help develop one of their prospects, and that’s exciting not only for MLS but soccer in the United States as a whole.
- Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy)
Jones came off a 2016 season where it looked like he didn’t have much left. Nevertheless, He’s been one of the most important players in the USMNT’s ranks. He spent much of the 2016 season injured, and now he goes to an LA Galaxy club that has the least star power it’s had in a long time. Is Jones still up for being a leader and doing much of the work himself at 35?
- Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
The MLS assists king from last season is back in New York and looking to continue a partnership with Bradley Wright-Phillips in 2017 as the two were one of the most dynamic duos in the league. He’s the USMNT’s best hope for a No. 10 playmaker and that starts with his MLS form.
- Sebastian Blanco (Portland Timbers)
The Portland Timbers attack was pretty solid before the acquisition of Blanco. With the attacking trio of Diego Valeri as playmaker, Darlington Nagbe as left wing and Fanendo Adi as striker – they’ve just needed a right winger to complete the set. Blanco will do that.
- Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
He is one of the best American players in MLS to date. His versatility in playing several positions makes him coveted by many, and Portland has been able to find the perfect place for him to operate in the left wing. Not only is Nagbe a major part of the Timbers, but Bruce Arena is also keeping a keen eye on the young star as the USMNT continues their Road to Russia in the Hex.
- Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
It seemed that the more games Morris played as a professional, the better the phenom was. He was the Rookie of the Year last year for very good reason, and he scored a ton of goals. Morris has become a well-rounded player, but with plenty of room to grow. If he continues his development, he may become the potent USMNT striker that USMNT fans have been long waiting for.
- Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City)
With the Bruce Arena era of the USMNT, the door opened for Feilhaber to return to the national team and he didn’t disappointment in the team’s first friendlies of the year. Now he has to stay in the right form and show he can be a consistent piece to rely on as the USMNT continues the slog of World Cup qualifying.
- David Villa (New York City Football Club)
The 2016 MLS MVP has not missed a beat. With already six goals in nine games this season, the Spaniard seems to have his eyes set on the ultimate prize, MLS Cup.
- Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
He helped take a last-place team to MLS Cup Champions in less than a year, imagine what he can do with a full year under his belt? What he managed to do in only half a season was nothing short of remarkable. Now expectations are going to be even higher for the playmaking magician.