The Major League Soccer season is nearly here, so let's dive into some big issues. Today -- three players who are ready to take the next step in 2021.

Jamiro Monteiro

Okay so after Wednesday night’s performance against Deportivo Saprissa where Monteiro scored twice and assisted on the Union’s other two goals you shouldn’t be surprised to see him on this list.

Monteiro enters this third season of MLS and second as a Designated Player upon the club’s roster. The Cape Verde international has had strong seasons the past two years but the midfielder now looks fully settled within the system and it’s been productive already in Concacaf Champions League play.

Whether he’s slotted at the No. 10 role or on the left side of the Union’s midfield diamond, the ball is going to find Monteiro. In 48 starts he’s collected 15 assists but 2021 could see a breakout year as the midfielder looks to be at the top of the statistics sheet. Monteiro’s career high for goals scored is just four which he did both with the Union in 2019 and with Heracles Almelo during the 2017-18 campaign. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Monteiro break that record by August.

Olivier Mbaizo

Mbaizo had all eyes on him the past week as the took over as the club’s new right back after the retirement of Ray Gaddis. Fans had seen glimpses of the Cameroonian defender in spot starts each of the last two years but now first on the depth chart is Mbaizo.

Mbaizo already is off to a strong 2021 season with a perfectly weighted cross to Kacper Przybylko on the road at Deportivo Saprissa. Mbaizo’s ability to get forward and join into the attack has been one of his strengths whether with the first team or Philadelphia Union 2 and that has been in display already.

As the chemistry between Mbaizo and captain Alejandro Bedoya matures throughout the season, you can project the right side of the Union’s counter attack to be lethal with overlapping runs.


Leon Flach

The lone newcomer to this list, Flach has only been with the Union for two weeks and has already appeared in three matches if you count the club’s friendly against D.C. United. Flach’s versatility as a left-footed midfielder and left back again provides the same potential for lethal offensive runs like the right side of the pitch.

Flach’s defensive understanding of Union’s high-press and quick attack too has been caught on tape early in 2021. Versatility and the hunger to improve match after match, makes Flach easily a player to watch.