Analysis

So, your MLS team missed the playoffs? Time to make this player its centerpiece

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Orlando City SC: Yoshimar Yotun

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Orlando went from the top of the East in the opening months of 2017 to an absolute dumpster fire, ending the season with a 6-1 loss to the lowly Philadelphia Union after Jason Kreis repeatedly reminded his Orlando players that many of them were still playing for their future jobs.

Orlando was a mess in the back, allowing 58 goals in 2017. Cyle Larin’s future remains in limbo, and Dom Dwyer will need to produce more to live up to his price tag. The one real bright spot com October? Yoshimar Yotun, the Peruvian Designated Player who arrived in August.

Yotun showed his class in the middle of the park as Orlando struggled through the backend of the season, and it’s clear that he can be the type of playmaking midfielder which Orlando desperately needs. Sure, he can play left back, but for the love of the City Beautiful, keep him in the middle of the park and rebuild around him. Kreis knows this, but how will he execute? Yotun should be the centerpiece.

- Jeff Kassouf

Montreal Impact: Ignacio Piatti

Jean-Yves Ahern - USA TODAY Sports

Jean-Yves Ahern - USA TODAY Sports

With 47 goals and 21 assists in 7,849 regular-season MLS minutes since arriving in Montreal in 2014, and another five goals and three assists in eight playoff games, “Nacho” has been one of the league’s most productive playmakers, and a thrill to watch as well.

In early October, his club rewarded him commensurately, with Piatti signing a contract extension that keeps him in IMFC colors through 2019, with a team option for 2020. Even though he’ll be 33 to start the 2018 season, he’s still a logical tent pole for the successor to departing coach Mauro Biello to rebuild around — especially given the size of Montreal’s financial commitment to him.

According to club owner Joey Saputo, Piatti’s new deal puts him among the top five earners in all of MLS. So the Impact will hope that the Argentine’s health and form hold up as it looks to mend a porous back line and buttress its inconsistent midfield.

- Charles Boehm

NEXT: The Union’s future (still) and the best of the Revs’ underachievers