The 2018 Major League Soccer season will push storylines and stars to the forefront of our minds.
Although the season will kick off in just under two months, now is a good time to look ahead toward the upcoming campaign and identify players to watch.
This list doesn’t necessarily center around MLS superstars. Instead, we focus on players whose seasons should be compelling for any number of reasons.
Here goes (in alphabetical order):
Kellyn Acosta (Midfielder, FC Dallas)
The 22-year-old must restore his club to MLS prominence in 2018, following its disastrous downturn in the second half of last season.
Tyler Adams (Midfielder, New York Red Bulls)
Adams announced himself as one of the United States’ top prospects during his breakout 2017 campaign. Can he build on that success and lead the Red Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Andre Blake (Goalkeeper, Philadelphia Union)
Having attracted overseas interest through strong MLS and international performances, the Jamaican goalkeeper might play his way into a European transfer in 2018.
Alphonso Davies (Forward, Vancouver Whitecaps)
The 17-year-old Canadian prospect is on the cusp of stardom for club and country. Is 2018 the year he turns promise into consistent goal production?
Yangel Herrera (Midfielder, New York City FC)
The 19-year-old Venezuelan impressed last season, and his club will expect more from him in 2018, the second season of his two-year loan from parent club Manchester City.
Nicolás Lodeiro (Midfielder, Seattle Sounders)
The Uruguayan midfielder hopes to play in his third FIFA World Cup this year and restore the Sounders to MLS-champion status. No pressure then.
Sebastian Lletget (Midfielder, Los Angeles Galaxy)
Can the 25-year-old recover from the devastating knee injury he suffered in early in 2017 and return to the U.S. national team picture?
Diego Rossi (Forward, Los Angeles FC)
The 19-year-old was a champion with Penarol in his native Uruguay last season and arrives in Los Angeles with high expectations.
Erick “Cubo” Torres (Striker, Houston Dynamo)
The Mexican striker broke out of his two-season funk in 2017 and is a longshot to earn a spot on his country’s 2018 World Cup team. Scoring goals early in the season will advance his case.
Carlos Vela (Forward, Los Angeles FC)
The Mexican international is expected to power LAFC’s pursuit of success in its inaugural season and perform well for his country in the World Cup. Vela, 28, is at the right moment in his career to pursue such lofty ambitions.