Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
There have been plenty of newcomers to MLS making a huge impact this season, but none have made a bigger impact than Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe.
After completing his high-profile move from Tottenham in the English Premier League to TFC, Defoe has proved to the team’s owners and fans that he was worth every penny, turning TFC into a playoff team that has legitimate title aspirations. In his first 15 MLS games, Defoe has scored 11 goals and set up two more, tops among newcomers in the league.
Even when not scoring, Defoe has opened up the channels for teammates Luke Moore and Gilberto. Though he’s set to miss the next two-to-three weeks with a groin injury, Defoe’s performances so far made him an easy pick for SBI MLS Mid-Season Newcomer of the Year.
Defoe is just one of several outstanding newcomers in MLS this year. Here is a rundown of our Top Five so far this season, and our Best XI of MLS Newcomers:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. JERMAIN DEFOE
Since completing his surprising transfer move to join Toronto FC last January, Defoe has become one of MLS’ most lethal finishers. He’s scored 11 goals and assisted on two others, and has attracted the attention of defenders and midfielders on every team he faces.
2. PEDRO MORALES
Few have the vision and passing accuracy of Pedro Morales, who has been a revelation since joining the Vancouver Whitecaps at the start of the season. The veteran Chilean is able to pick out any of his teammates streaming down the wings, and with seven goals and eight assists, has been arguably the best player for the Whitecaps this season.
3. GIANCARLO GONZALEZ
In one of the more underrated signings of the offseason, Giancarlo Gonzalez joined the Crew and immediately became a lockdown defender. While the Crew have struggled to score this season, Gonzalez, when not on international duty, has kept the Crew in games with strong one-on-one defending, anticipation, and good arial ability.
4. STEFAN ISHIZAKI
The veteran Swedish international has played in every game this season for the Galaxy, and has four goals and four assists. He’s quickly developed chemistry with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, and has shown that he can play on the wing or as an attacking midfielder in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
5. CRISTIAN MAIDANA
The flashy and technical Argentine midfielder has made an instant impact for the Union, scoring twice and setting up eight goals this season. His eight assists are good for second in MLS, and tops amongst newcomers.
Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season Newcomer of the Year:
Who did you vote for? Who wasn’t on the ballot that you feel should have been?
Share your thoughts below.