The 2016 MLS season kicks off this weekend, here are 5 players to keep an eye on throughout the year.
Kwadwo Poku – New York City FC
Restricted to just six starts throughout 2015, the 23 year old Ghanaian is somewhat of a cult hero at New York City. 2016 promises to be the breakthrough year for Poku, surrounded by admirers Lampard and Pirlo, he can only get better. Poku is still raw but his power and technical ability draw comparisons to idol Yaya Toure, if given more responsibility he could well thrive and be the standout player in the MLS this season.
Darlington Nagbe – Portland Timbers
MLS Cup winner Nagbe was instrumental in the Timbers end of season unbeaten run. Moved into a central role, the Liberia born midfielders form has been rewarded by USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, earning four caps to date. The question remains whether Nagbe can push on and demonstrate the talent he possesses consistently as the Timbers look to defend their crown.
Jordan Morris – Seattle Sounders
Signing Morris as a homegrown player, the Seattle Sounders beat of interest from abroad to secure what many consider as the top amateur player in the nation. With nine USMNT caps already the 21 year old goes into the 2016 season with great hope and expectation. Morris may find his chances of game time boosted as star striker Obafemi Martins looks set to complete his transfer to Shanghai Shenua.
Gyasi Zardes – LA Galaxy
The arrival of Giovani Dos Santos saw Zardes operate mainly from the right flank in 2015, with nine goals and six assists across all competitions, it was still a good return for the 24 year old but didn’t quite hit the heights of his haul in 2014. Now a USMNT regular, expectation will be high to provide the support star striker Robbie Keane so desperately needs. If the Galaxy are to have any hope of playoff success, a move back up top for Zardes may be needed to recapture his best form.
Jack Harrison – New York City FC
No 1 draft pick Jack Harrison will join the ranks of Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa after Chicago Fire traded with New York City FC for the fourth pick and general allocation money. The youngster from Bolton, left Manchester United’s academy at the age of 14 to attend Berkshire School in Massachusetts. Starring for Manhattan Soccer Club and Wake Forest University propelled the star into the arms of NYCFC. A pelvic injury has sidelined the youngster during preseason, once fully recovered expect scouts from across the globe to keep a keen eye on the 19 year old.