Five players to watch as the MLS trains at IMG Academy

Watch these main attractions this winter as soccer lands at IMG Academy

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 26, 2014 

Professional soccer has arrived in Manatee County as six Major League Soccer franchises are making IMG Academy their home for the 2014 preseason.

The New England Revolution, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, D.C. United, Chicago Fire and FC Dallas are scheduled to play at the private sports academy for preseason games, which begin Friday.

Orlando City, who are set to join the MLS in 2015, and Swedish club Malmo FF are participating this preseason, too.

"We are excited for fans and the local community to experience MLS action at IMG Academy," IMG soccer director Scott Dean said. "Serving as the Eastern Hub for the 2014 MLS Preseason presents a great opportunity for IMG and Bradenton to showcase ourselves as a premier event destination."

Here are MLS five players to watch this preseason:

Michael Bradley, midfielder, Toronto F.C.

The scoop: American soccer fans know the Bradley name. The son of former United States Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley, Michael has etched his own solid career.

He's new to Major League Soccer after playing for A.S. Roma of Serie A, Italy's top professional league, last year.

As a central midfielder, Bradley's has played the defensive role, dispersing players on runs with pinpoint accuracy on his passes. He has done it quite well over the years for Uncle Sam's Army, most notably during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.

Mike Magee, forward, Chicago Fire

The scoop: Magee doesn't possess the international pedigree like some players in MLS, but the forward sure made a mark in 2013.

All Magee did was rack up 21 goals in 32 matches. He's a versatile player who can roam in the middle of the park or up front. Magee's primary position last term when he scored those 21 goals, the second-most in the MLS, came from the midfield. Now listed as a forward, Magee is looking for repeat success in his second season with Chicago.

He was acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy prior to last year, and Magee led the Fire to the cusp of an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

Saër Sène, forward, New England Revolution

The scoop: A 6-foot-3 Frenchman has the look down: a bleach-blonde fauxhawk. He also has the pedigree as his father Oumar played for French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking of giants, Sène came to the Revolution from the Bavarian giants, FC Bayern Munchen. He played on the reserve squad equivalent, Bayern Munchen II, rather than the big club, but that connection shows that Europe's elite were after his talents at one point.

Now comfortably making his third season for New England, Sène played in 14 league matches following his recovery from an ACL reconstruction.

Charlie Davies, forward, New England Revolution

The scoop: Davies' soccer career nearly ended in October 2009 when he suffered extensive injuries from a car accident in Washington, D.C.

Up until that point, Davies' speed and play put him on the Team USA map, and he was considered a strong contender to play up front for the Yanks in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Since recovering from the injuries, Davies returned to play for Sochaux in France. He moved to Randers FC (Denmark), appearing 23 times for the club as a substitute before the Revs snagged him on loan last August.

Eddie Johnson, forward, D.C. United

The scoop: His career has seen its share of ups and downs. Johnson's banner season in 2007, when he scored a career-high 15 goals for the Kansas City Wizards, led to a move across to pond to play for London-based Fulham of the English Premier League.

Johnson bounced from the Cottagers to Welsh side Cardiff City and Greek club Aris FC before making a return to Fulham in 2010-11.

However, Johnson didn't have the success he enjoyed in MLS and latched onto the Seattle Sounders following some training at IMG Academy.

That 2012 campaign witnessed a 14-goal season and earned him honors as the MLS Comeback Player of the Year and made him an all-star.

The 6-footer is making his debut for D.C. United this season following a nine-goal year with the Sounders last season.

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