The 2014 MLS SuperDraft wasn’t the strongest, but some of the players that have made a successful transition from college to MLS. Even though some of these players aren’t regular starters, they have done enough to raise a few eyebrows.
With the soccer buzz in the United States at an all-time high because of the USMNT’s gritty run in the World Cup, it’s the perfect time for soccer fans to be introduced to the future.
Here are the top rookies from the first half of the 2014 MLS season:
Chris Duvall (New York Red Bulls): The former Wake Forest right-back has settled into Mike Petke’s plans, starting the last four games.
JJ Koval (San Jose Earthquakes): Koval has been the brightest spot in San Jose’s dull season.
Eric Miller (Montreal Impact): The Impact traded up to pick the 21-year-old defender and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s appeared in 10 matches, starting eight.
5. Jared Watts (Colorado Rapids): Colorado midfield depth just keeps on getting deeper. The ex-Wake Forest defensive midfielder has been influential this season and will continue to be after José Mari suffered an injury and Nathan Sturgis was traded.
Even though he hasn’t scored a goal or recorded an assist this year, Watts has featured in eight matches.
4. Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas): Out of nowhere, the kid out of Colorado School of Mines has become a regular starter in Dallas. He’s fought his way past more experienced strikers to become Blas Pérez’s partner. He has started FC Dallas’ last six league matches, but only has one goal this season.
Akindele is electrifying forward that possesses pace, power and size. However, his finishing needs some work.
3. Nick Hagglund (Toronto FC): Tall, powerful, quick, versatile and confident are words that perfectly describe Hagglund. The 21-year-old has been a rock in Toronto’s defense this season,
His breakout performance was against San Jose Earthquakes. Hagglund was positioned on the right side of the defense and he was a nightmare for 90 minutes. The rookie came close to scoring twice and won the penalty kick that would eventually be the game-winner. For his brilliant work, he was named the man of the match.
On Wednesday, he was named the man of the match after Toronto FC tied Chicago Fire.
2. Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution): Coming out of college, everyone knew Mullins was a very special player. He had won the MAC Hermann Trophy (best player in college) twice and led the nation in scoring with 19 goals.
After a seven-game stint on the bench, Mullins introduced himself to MLS fans by scoring in four consecutive games. The left-footed assassin’s goals helped the Revolution rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.
1. Harry Shipp (Chicago Fire): Shipp has been beyond impressive since he signed as a Homegrown Player. He’s scored a hat-trick to secure his team’s first victory of the season, a brace in a valiant effort against the best team in the league and a goal to secure a positive result against a team led by Jermain Defoe.
Even though his playing on a very disappointing team, Shipp has shined. He defends well, distributes the ball expertly and he’s dangerous on set-pieces. He’s also added four assists to his six goals from 14 appearances.
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