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2024 MLS season: Americans to watch

The new MLS season is almost upon us, and in addition to the new crop of rising stars making headlines each season, teams brought a few players with national team experience back to the States.

Of course, we’re heading into a unique time for the USMNT, with the US hosting the Copa America, Club World Cup and World Cup over the next three years. Ahead of that, take a look at these 10 American players to keep an eye on in the coming MLS campaign. 

Zack Steffen - GK, Colorado Rapids

From a US perspective, one of the biggest arrivals in the MLS this term is goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The former Manchester City man picked up plenty of medals during his spell as the number two stopper at the Etihad, but he was in need of first-team football after making only 21 appearances for City since 2020.

Steffen returns to MLS with the Colorado Rapids, having spent four seasons with Columbus Crew between 2016 and 2019. He has his work cut out this season as he arrives at the side who finished bottom of the Western Conference last term, with only five MLS sides conceding more than them. 

Jackson Ragen - CB, Seattle Sounders

The training camp that national team boss Gregg Berhalter held last month points to some of the MLS talents who have a chance of forcing their way into the side, with Sounders defender Ragen amongst them.

He’s a little on the older side at 25, but the Seattle-born defender has put together a couple of good seasons with the Sounders. He made 32 appearances last season for the best defense in the league, so his progression in his third campaign is something to follow.

Josh Atencio - DM, Seattle Sounders

Another Sounders prospect to watch is Josh Atencio, who was nominated for Best Young Player in MLS last season. Incredibly, the 22-year-old made his debut for the Sounders in 2020 so he has already built up a lot of experience. 

He made his USMNT debut earlier this year in a loss to Slovenia and the midfielder will hope to kick on in his fifth season in the league. He won 2.56 tackles per game last season, putting him in the 98th percentile among MLS midfielders in the stat.

Jesus Ferreira - FW, FC Dallas

Ferreira is one of the more established names on this list, but the 23-year-old should continue his growth in 2024. The Dallas forward was among the MVP nominees last season after scoring 12 goals in 27 regular season games.

Ferreira’s missed penalty at last summer’s Gold Cup saw the US eliminated, but his seven goals won him the tournament’s golden boot. He clearly has a big future for the national side, and Dallas will be expecting a strong season from him, especially after the club-record arrival of a new partner in the attack, Petar Musa. Ferreira has the joint-ninth-shortest odds to win the league's top goalscorer award at +2500

Benjamin Cremaschi - CM, Inter Miami

Rising star Benjamin Cremaschi, 18, is in an odd position following his breakout campaign. He featured 41 times in all competitions for Inter Miami last season, but Lionel Messi’s team have strengthened going into this season.

The midfielder may find it a little harder to get into the side, but he clearly has tons of potential in midfield.

Miles Robinson - CB, FC Cincinnati

Robinson was the most-capped player brought into the January training camp squad, which puts him in an awkward position between the old and new guard for the national side.

He has been given a fresh start for this MLS campaign, moving from Atlanta United to FC Cincinnati. Can the 26-year-old kick on in new surroundings and nail down a place in the national side? Joining the reigning Supporters' Shield winners puts him in a good spot to do so.

Matt Miazga - CB, FC Cincinnati

Robinson will link up with a fellow US international in Cincinnati, with Matt Miazga reaching a crucial point in his career. The 28-year-old is something of a late bloomer after a few unproductive years stuck in Chelsea's loan farm.

Miazga returned to MLS in 2022 and he’s had two good seasons with Cincinnati. However, he should now be at his peak and a lot will be expected of him this season. The question is whether he can do enough to earn his first USMNT call-up since 2017.

Aidan Morris - CM, Columbus Crew

Morris won his second MLS Cup last season at 22-years-old, having emerged as a key player for Columbus Crew. While he was just breaking through when they won the trophy in 2020, Morris was a key presence for the team last season.

He has also managed to force himself into the international frame, but can he take another step forward in 2024 after a productive season in one of the league's best midfields?

Djordje Mihailovic - AM, Colorado Rapids

Attacking midfielder Mihailovic has returned from Europe to join up with a Rapids side who clearly want to take a step forward this season. The 25-year-old playmaker is at a crossroads after departing AZ Alkmaar.

Mihailovic impressed with Chicago Fire and CF Montreal, but his European move didn’t pan out as he would have liked. How will he readjust to MLS and can he show more after two years in the Netherlands? 

James Sands - DM/CB, New York City FC

Sands made his MLS debut in 2017 but he hasn’t really had an opportunity to establish himself anywhere. After some good displays with New York City he moved to Rangers on an 18-month loan, which was terminated last March.

He returned to MLS at short notice last season and managed to feature for the US at the Gold Cup. However, he seems to have another gear to get to, and NYCFC will need him after finishing 20th in MLS last season and entering this season with the ninth-shortest odds to win the Eastern Conference at +2000.

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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