This offseason, MLS clubs continued to attract young and exciting talent both internationally and domestically. Below are a few of the key newcomers to watch:
Luciano Acosta (D.C. United): D.C. United’s Luciano Acosta, a 21-year-old midfielder on loan from Boca Juniors, figured prominently in the team’s attack during last week’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Queretaro FC. Last season while on loan with Estudiantes, the speedy Acosta played in 27 matches while starting 11, including seven Copa Libertadores games.
Shkëlzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids): Considered one of the top signings of the offseason, the Colorado Rapids acquired Albanian national team forward Shkëlzen Gashi from FC Basel, the champion of the Swiss Super League for six consecutive seasons. The 27-year-old will count as a Designated Player on the Colorado roster and gives the Rapids a dangerous scoring option evidenced by his 25 goals in 41 appearances for his previous club.
Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas): FC Dallas signed Ecuadorian midfielder Carlos Gruezo as a Designated Player away from Bundesliga side Vfb Stuttgart. The 20-year-old Gruezo was the youngest player for Ecuador, the fourth youngest overall, and the second youngest to start a match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. A defensive midfielder, Gruezo already has 10 caps for Ecuador despite his young age.
Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire): Drafted fourth overall by the Chicago Fire in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, the Stanford standout joined his Cardinal teammate Jordan Morris at the U.S. National Team’s January camp earlier this year, receiving his first cap in a February friendly victory over Canada. A two-time Pac-12 Defender of the Year, Vincent brings intelligence to the pitch as he was awarded the Pac-12 men’s soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2015.
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC): Signed as a Homegrown Player, Jordan Morris grew up as a Sounders FC fan, not least of all because his father started out as the team physician when the club was in USL and currently holds the title of Team Medical Director and Orthopedic Surgeon for Sounders FC. Morris has nine caps for the U.S. National Team, scoring the game-winning goal – his first international tally – in a U.S. friendly victory over Mexico last April. The young striker will play a key role for the U.S. U-23 team as they attempt to qualify for the Olympics next month.
… and on the Touchline
Two new faces appeared in the annual MLS Coaches Photo this year… and the two newcomers are facing off Week 1.
After parting ways with Jason Kreis following their inaugural season, New York City FC announced Patrick Vieira as head coach in November. Following a celebrated playing career that included 10 seasons for Arsenal and 107 caps for the French National Team, including winning the FIFA World Cup in 1998, the standout midfielder joined Manchester City overseeing their Elite Development Squad.
Chicago Fire, meanwhile, brought in manager Veljko Paunovic, who played for Philadelphia Union in 2011 after spending the majority of his playing days with Atletico Madrid and most recently led Serbia’s U-20 team to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup title in 2015. The two new MLS coaches will get their first taste of league action against each other at Toyota Park on Sunday (MLS LIVE, 2 p.m. ET).