The 2020 MLS regular season is on our doorstep. To help preview the campaign, here are five breakout stars to watch over the course of the year.
Every season there are players who come out of nowhere, step up to fill open voids, or youngsters who take the steps to becoming the next stars in Major League Soccer. As a part of a young and improving league, there are always players who take their game to the next level.
Sometimes they are veterans figuring things out, other times it is young players bursting onto the senior scene, and sometimes they are new signings that take MLS by storm from the moment they step into the league.
So, with 2020 around the corner, here are the top-five breakout candidates:
5. Brian Rodriguez
19-year-old Brian Rodriguez is one of the youngest Designated Players in the league. He will hope to improve on his one league assist from a season ago. The flashes are there, and if he can contribute to an already scary looking LAFC attack, the rest of the league should be worried. Talented, but not yet productive.
4. Xavier Arreaga
With Seattle’s losses of Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, and Kim Kee-hee, the defending champions will need someone to step up at center-back. Xavier Arreaga came on strong at the end of last season. The 25-year-old Ecuadorian international will be expected to help lead the backline and see out matches.
3. Efrain Alvarez
Efrain Alvarez burst onto the scene last year as a 17-year-old who supplied three assists in five MLS matches last season. He had two goals in a U.S. Open Cup match and twelve goals in the USL in 2018. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic out in Los Angeles, the Galaxy will need players like Alvarez to step up in 2020.
2. Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez
This may come as an odd inclusion to the list, but Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez simply failed to live up to his transfer fee during the 2019 MLS campaign. He still has the talent, of course, and is playing in an exciting Atlanta United team that should score a lot of goals this season, so perhaps this year, he will deliver as expected. This season, Martinez has already created two goals and scored twice himself in the CONCACAF Champions League. In comparison, he scored seven goals in all competitions last season. If his form continues, this could be the season Pity becomes a breakout star in MLS.
1. Gianluca Busio
Last season was tough for 17-year-old Gianluca Busio as Sporting Kansas City just destroyed by injuries, poor form, and a crisis in confidence. Busio has some great deep-lying playmaking abilities, showcased by his four goals and three assists already, and there is little doubt that he can be the future of the midfield for Kansas City for years to come.
But in 2020, with Sporting KC looking to bounce back, Busio might just play a key role. And it could unlock his very best abilities.