Ah, The #MLS. Where aging players go to earn themselves a final pay-off. That may have been true in the past, but this year things are starting to change. Gone are Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Robbie Keane with only a few flying the flag for the twilight men. Sides this year have opted to use Designated Players (players who can breach the salary cap) on players in their prime, not those big names who fill stadiums and sell shirts. With two more sides joining the MLS this year, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, we could be in for the best season yet, certainly in terms of quality. We look at five players to watch this opening weekend and for the rest of the season.

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Miguel Almiron – Atlanta United

Not a familiar name, but the billing Miguel Almiron has been given means he could be one of the greatest players ever to grace the MLS. The attacking midfielder was signed from Argentinean side Lanus for $8 million, and is one of new side Atlanta’s Designated Players (DP) at the age of just 23. He has played for national side Paraguay seven times, showing great agility and promising distribution. How Atlanta fare in their debut season heavily rests on how he performs.

Atlanta United vs. New York Bulls, Sunday, March 5 – 7PM ET

Sebastien Giovinco – Toronto FC

Probably the best player in the MLS, Sebastien Giovinco recorded 17 goals and 15 assists last season as Toronto went all the way to the MLS Cup Final. With fellow DPs Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore in the side, Italian international Giovinco will get plenty of service and you can expect the Canadians to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

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The forward has great pace, superb dribbling and clinical finishing, and his dominance has forced many sides to strengthen their defences this campaign.

Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC, Saturday, March 4 – 4:30PM ET

Nicolas Lodeiro – Seattle Sounders FC

Attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro was one of the prime reasons why Seattle went all the way and lifted the MLS Cup last season. Despite only joining the club at the half way mark, he went on to score six goals in the remainder of the season, and notched in the Final shootout. Now having a pre-season with the club, the Uruguayan international can only get better, and a strong campaign could turn some heads in Europe, as it's now or never for the 27-year-old if he is to secure a big move.

Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC, Saturday, March 4 – 8:30PM ET

Nemanja Nikolic – Chicago Fire

Judging by his goal scoring record, Chicago Fire have found themselves a clinical finisher. Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic has banged in in 235 goals in 403 appearances during his career, and he moves to the Windy City from Legia Warsaw.

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The 29-year-old has never cut it at international level, with just three goals in 23 games for his country, so he still has much to prove.

The forward has superb positioning in the box, holds great strength and clearly knows where the back of the net is. With the Fire finishing bottom of the overall table last season, they will need their new front man to hit the ground running.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire – Saturday, March 4 – 2PM ET

Kevin Molino – Minnesota United

New side Minnesota United have gone against signing any Designated Players, so head coach Adrian Heath does not build his side around an individual. An intelligent bit of business from the owners, but they have still brought in some talent, with Kevin Molino arriving from Orlando City.

The draft transfer fee of $650,000 is the joint highest in MLS history, tied with Eddie Johnson’s move from Seattle Sounders to DC United in 2013. Right midfielder Molino picked up 11 goals and eight assists last season, showing his swiftness and dribbling ability. Although the pressure will be off as MNUFC make their MLS bow, the onus of their mad supporters will heavily be on Molino.

Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC – Friday, March 3 – 9:30 PM #Soccer #Football