Every year the MLS gets bigger and bigger in a number of different ways. It becomes literally bigger in that more teams join, with LAFC coming to the party this season and giving the city a side right in the centre of Los Angeles, rather than out in the sticks, like LA Galaxy. It gets bigger in terms of its profile as more and more people get interested in the league as the quality continues to grow. And it gets bigger in terms of the quality of players it can attract.
When the MLS first started to gain an international foothold, a lot of the stars were aging and coming towards the end of their careers. The league was seen as a bit of a retirement home for ageing stars looking for one last paycheck. That seems to be less of an issue now with players nearer the peaks of their career coming to play in the States. Of course, there will not be a player of the quality of someone like Lionel Messi in the league anytime soon, but players like Sebastian Giovinco have shown you can devote your best years to the league and be rewarded.
In the offseason, there have been a number of great players brought in across the MLS who show how far the league has come. It is, of course, very hard to make a football prediction, with so many different variables to consider. However, there are some players who look as if they will succeed and make a real difference for their team in the 2018 season. Here are some of the best to watch out for when the season gets going in March.
Ebenezer Ofori (New York City FC, Midfielder)
Ofori has long been known to fans of Swedish football as a calm, comfortable and skillful midfielder who can put his foot on the ball and search out a great pass. He was a real hit at AIK and was tipped for bigger things in European football. Unfortunately, as with many players, he made the wrong choice and moved to Stuttgart and struggled for playing time. NYCFC have brought him in on loan and he will surely impress in a slightly less demanding league than the Bundesliga.
Marcus Eriksson (San Jose Earthquakes, Midfielder)
Eriksson is another name that Swedish football fans know, he was superb in Allsvenskan last season and was the joint top scorer despite playing in midfield. His driving runs into the box meant he got on the end of many crosses and finished them superbly. When San Jose’s new Swedish coach made him one of his first signs it was no surprise. Expect him to grab goals in MLS.
Alejandro Romero Gamarra (New York Red Bulls, Winger)
A tricky winger with excellent pace and almost scarily good dribbling skills, Gamarra had been on the Red Bulls list for a long time. His talent is not in question and the fact that NYRB decided to make him a designated player shows just how good he can be. He will be hoping to show the league what he can do this season.