The Spanish playmaker was the biggest reason why Toronto FC reached the 2019 MLS Cup final, as he chipped in with 12 goals and 12 assists in 30 appearances during his debut season. He signed as a Designated Player in 2019 as the replacement for Sebastian Giovinco and did much more than that, as he is now entrenched as a legitimate MVP contender for the next few years if he remains at Toronto. He was far and away the best midfielder in the league during 2019 and difference-maker players such as him can turn things around in the blink of an eye. That’s exactly what teams need in a short tournament.
Los Angeles FC -- and MLS as a whole -- were dealt a massive blow when Carlos Vela announced his withdrawal from the tournament due to health concerns and the fact he will become a father soon. This means the Orlando-based tournament will be Diego Rossi’s chance to shine as LAFC’s undisputed long-term leader. The former Peñarol star is only 22 years old and is among the most hyped prospects in the league. He already bagged 12 and 16 goals in his first two MLS seasons. His stock is bound to get even higher with Vela out, especially looking at his numbers -- he has 29 goals and 16 assists in 68 appearances for LAFC in his career.
Casseres must be one of the players who has improved the most over the last 12 months, as he has gone from an interesting prospect to a vital piece in midfield for the New York Red Bulls. The former La Guaira star made 24 league appearances for the Red Bulls last season and is expected to control the tempo of the team lying behind more attacking players such as Kaku or Daniel Royer. These two might represent more damage for opposing defenses, but no player carries more weight in the Red Bulls’ tactical system than the Venezuela native.
Javier Hernandez’s tenure at Los Angeles Galaxy didn’t start as many expected. He was talked with replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but he is yet to find the back of the net in two games and has only attempted two shots, neither on target. The Mexico international, however, is used to play Cup tournaments due to his track record with El Tri and might be the weapon the Galaxy needs upfront to remain as a Western Conference contender. Chicharito will undoubtedly be a marketing machine, but it’s also time to watch him try make a difference for the Galaxy. The spotlight will certainly be on him.
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