Because less players equal more space to pass and move

5 key players to decide the MLS Cup

Major League Soccer is growing. A decade or so ago, the MLS was considered a ‘retirement home’ for has-beens that were coming to the end of their illustrious careers.

Nowadays, the United States’ primary soccer division is widely regarded as a serious, respected league and there are now plenty of elite stars in action on a weekly basis.

Here are five big names that could have a huge say in the rankings and destiny of the MLS Cup this season.

Frank Lampard
After a poor start to his New York City career, Frank Lampard has suddenly found his feet in front of goal. The former Chelsea man has found the net on a regular basis in the last couple of months and he scored New York City’s first MLS hat-trick against the Colorado Rapids last month. On his day, Lampard is still a dominant force and he could lead Patrick Vieira’s men to their first MLS championship with a bit of luck. Lampard isn’t getting any younger but he is still a prominent star in this City side.

Sebastian Giovinco
The Toronto man has been prolific since moving to the MLS and he could play a key role once again as the Canadian side look to compete for the title. Giovinco netted a league-leading 22 goals in 2015 and the 29-year-old will be looking to bag a similar number again this season.

If he performs at his best, the former Juventus star is capable of unlocking the best defences in North America and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Giovinco guide Greg Vanney’s men to the latter stages of the playoffs at the very least.

Robbie Keane
Whilst Steven Gerrard’s arrival was colossal for everybody associated with LA Galaxy, you could argue that Robbie Keane is far more important to their chances of success. Keane’s goalscoring record since moving to the west coast of America speaks for itself: the Republic of Ireland man has netted over 80 goals in 120 appearances; an immense achievement.

If he continues to fire the goals in, LA Galaxy will fancy their chances of securing yet another MLS Cup triumph. If nothing else, they should be one of the most entertaining teams to watch with so much attacking talent on show.

Luis Robles
The New York Red Bulls goalkeeper was named in the MLS Team of the Season in 2015 and he will be looking to guide his side through the postseason this year. The Red Bulls are one of the MLS’ greatest franchises on paper and Robles will expect to win a trophy at some point in the not-so-distant future.

He is one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the league and a number of Premier League clubs have been linked with the American shot stopper. At 32 years old, he isn’t getting any younger but he is widely regarded as a consistent player for the Red Bulls and he could be crucial in their bid for glory.

Matt Hedges
Dallas haven’t been quite as dominant this season but central defender Matt Hedges could be the difference maker in the second half of the campaign. Last year, Hedges was ranked as one of the best players in the league and he was actually a finalist for the Defender of the Year – which was won by Montreal Impact star Laurent Ciman.

Dallas have plenty of potential and Hedges will be looking to inspire his team-mates to victory throughout the campaign as they look to climb the rankings and challenge for the MLS Cup.