MLS Packed With Exceptional Players

With the 20th season started, who impressed during the first weekend and who should you watch this year?
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Major League Soccer (MLS) 2012 Season Preview

The 20th season of Major League Soccer went off (seemingly) without a hitch. Thousands of people watched as the reigning MLS Cup champs in LA Galaxy kicked off against the Chicago Fire in the first match of the season; followed by some very tight games, usually ending in 1-1 or 1-0. This parity-filled league showcased some of the best talent in its couple years for the inaugural weekend of the 20th season. Toronto and Seattle netted three goals as the Reds and Sounders showed off to fans they may be two of the teams to watch this year.

So what are the storylines to watch this season, now that it’s kicked off? Besides the already talked about – and maybe talked through – topics of Frank Lampard coming to NYCFC and his debacle of when he’d be stateside for the club, or Steven Gerrard joining the LA Galaxy, there are many points of take from the first weekend of MLS play in 2015.

One word: Kaka. The Orlando City Soccer Club’s captain – and former FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner in 2007 (the last Ballon d’Or winner who wasn’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo) – showcased during Orlando’s first MLS game why there have been so many plaudits around the Brazilian. He controlled the tempo and the pace of the game, and even at 32, still has quite a few tricks up his sleeve. The midfielder, who has only played for four teams in his life (Sao Paulo in Brazil, AC Milan in Italy, Real Madrid in Spain, and now Orlando City in MLS), is one of the biggest names in MLS and his leadership on the field showed why he’s well respected in the footballing world. Although he’s not the fastest player on the pitch – like his Orlando teammates Kevin Molino and Bryan Rochez – he is the pivotal player who will be vital to the team’s inaugural year in MLS. Kaka, because of his stature, occasionally seems like he doesn’t have any opponents on the pitch since the world seemingly stops whenever he has the ball at his feet. So although it won’t be hard to do so, keep an eye on this global superstar while he’s in MLS.

Two others to keep a pulse on this season is the offensive pairing of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins at Seattle. When they’re both on the field, it’s not nearly unfair to other players. With the duo now coming into its own, the Sounders will be a fun team to watch with the firepower of the Yank and Nigerian at the helm. With both Dempsey and Martins coming to Seattle in 2013, the connection up at the top of the field has come to fruition now in 2015. Not only do Martins and Dempsey have something special to watch, so do the Sounders in general. The club has won the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2014 and the US Open Cup in 2009-2011 and 2014, but the MLS Cup is nowhere to be seen on that award list. With Dempsey, Martins, and others like Brad Evans, Marco Pappa, and Lamar Neagle, on the squad, this year might just be the year for Seattle to bring home the big one.

There are many other narratives and storylines to watch for this year in 2015 in MLS and Kaka and the forward duo of Dempsey and Martins are just two on the list to watch. With the addition of David Villa and Mix Diskerud at NYCFC, or the quiet offseason – albeit with the quite possibly exciting moves from the offseason – that Vancouver had, or even the younger generation taking hold of their roles in Columbus, this year is definitely the year to watch MLS. 

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.