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Five MLS players you should know about

We’ve featured five MLS players you probably have heard of, but you might not be aware of the following Major League Soccer stars. As part of our look ahead to the new MLS season, here are five players to watch out for.

Dwayne de Rosario (DC United) (pictured)

The wonder kid known as 'DdR' has an impressive MLS CV already. The reigning MLS most-valuable player (MVP) has won four MLS Cups, a CONCACAF Gold Cup, and an Under-20 CONCACAF championship with Canada, of all teams.

After a poor start to the 2011 season with New York, the Toronto native found his footing in D.C., with 13 goals in 17 games in a relatively lousy United team.

His dynamic ability to generate quality chances from virtually nothing impressed the entire league last season, with no-less an expert than Thierry Henry calling him the “face of MLS”.

He’ll be even better this year after geting some badly-needed help up-front this season in newcomer Hamdi Salihi.

Kris Boyd (Portland Timbers)

An underachieving player leaving a strife-ridden Championship squad for the MLS normally doesn’t make headlines. But when that player is also the most prolific scorer in Scottish Premier League history, the move is worth noticing.

Boyd, who eclipsed Henrik Larsson’s SPL record in 2009 while with Rangers, was meant to lead the Middlesborough attack but struggled mightily under two different managers before departing on a loan spell to Nottingham Forest.

Last summer, the Scottish international signed with Eskisehirspor in Turkey, only to leave after two appearances claiming that his contracted wage bill was never paid.

He definitely won’t have that problem in Portland, one of the richer clubs in MLS, who will be counting on Boyd rediscovering his offensive prowess -- which seems a good bet, as the 29-year-old is healthy and motivated.

Sebastien le Toux (Vancouver Whitecaps)

They may not win very many games this year, but Vancouver’s high-octane offence is going to be fun to watch, and Franco-American Sebastien le Toux will be at the centre of it.

When he’s on his game, le Toux is a dangerous offensive playmaker and striker, fully deserving of the number seven shirt, as his 11 goals in a primarily defensive-minded Philadelphia Union side last season can attest.

But le Toux seems to invite drama. Shortly after a failed trial with Bolton Wanderers in January, he was traded by Philadelphia to Vancouver for minimal compensation.

And he has yet to be capped by either France or USA, potentially due to his waffling over which nation to represent as recently as 2008. With France undergoing a potentially massive overhaul before Euro 2012, le Toux could get a call on his portable very soon.

Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

Shea earned a milestone international cap this month, at the tender age of 22, helping Team USA secure its first-ever victory over Italy. It was a fitting reward for an illustrious 2011, which saw Shea earn an MVP nomination, blossom into one of MLS’s brightest young talents, and spend a month training with Arsenal in the close season.

Shea stepped in nicely when attacking midfielder David Ferreira injured his ankle early in the season, scoring a career-high 11 goals in 31 games.

The Texas native’s ability to play an attacking midfielder or a central defender role is a boon to a talented F.C. Dallas side looking to get back to the MLS Cup finals after being dismissed at the Wild Card stage last season.

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Wondolowski won the MLS Golden Boot in 2010 and followed that with another impressive campaign in 2011, netting 16 goals in 30 games; no MLS player has scored more in that span.

What makes ‘Wondo’ special is his ability to possess the ball with limited space, and find openings and pathways to goal.

His goal-scoring prowess is even more impressive considering that his squad lacks offensive depth - Wondo accounted for 40 per cent of his team’s offensive output in 2011.

In an effort to get back to the play-offs, San Jose sought to increase the California native’s goal production this season by adding speed and creativity to the attack, especially on the wings.

By Sreesha Vaman


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