10 stars who'll become household names in MLS 2015
6) Olmes Garcia (22, Real Salt Lake)
A 22-year-old Colombian striker, Garcia is a rangy, talented goalscorer whose time to shine in Utah may have finally come. Mostly a substitute in his first two years with Real Salt Lake, Garcia should get a chance to show what he can do in a starting role more often in 2015. If the club goes to a 4-3-3 formation, watch out for Garcia cutting in early and shooting frequently. MLS watchers know how good he can be; now he just needs to show it.
7) Luis Gil (21, Real Salt Lake)
For a while there, Gil was touted as the Next Big Thing in American circles. Rather than chase glory in Europe, however, Gil chose to stay close to home and develop under the watchful eye of Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake. After Kreis fled to New York City FC, Gil saw his playing time reduced in 2014 (injuries also played a role). But RSL have turned over their midfield, and this year will be Gil’s chance to come into his own on a weekly basis.
8) Kekuta Manneh (20, Vancouver Whitecaps)
Not only is Manneh an immensely talented striker, but his background makes for a fantastic story. Born and raised in Gambia, Manneh moved to the US at 16 to pursue the dream of professional soccer. After a stop in Texas, he was drafted by the Whitecaps in 2013. Manneh soon torched the Sounders with a hat-trick, showing his ability to take over a game. A few more performances like that and he’ll join the elite of MLS. Speed is Manneh’s chief weapon, though he also shows a innate finisher’s touch in front of goal.
9) Matt Miazga (19, New York Red Bulls)
A US youth international, Miazga is a talented young defender in a league that doesn’t always trust talented young defenders. He is perhaps in need of a bit of seasoning, and there was talk that he might be shipped to one of Red Bull’s other clubs during the off-season. Instead he’s sticking around and, considering the lack of options at centre-back in New Jersey, he could get a chance to make a name for himself this year.
10) Bryan Rochez (20, Orlando City)
Orlando scooped up Rochez from Real Espana of Honduras, where he scored nearly 30 goals over three senior seasons and broke into the Honduran national team. A likely targetman, the 20-year-old can leap and is already strong enough to slot into an MLS line-up. How much he’ll play remains to be seen, but as the club used one of their three DP slots on him, there will be pressure to get him onto the field soon enough.