By IVES GALARCEP
When Caleb Porter arrived in Portland, and surveyed his roster, he wasn’t quite sure what to make of Rodney Wallace. What he did know is that he wanted to try him somewhere else on the field.
Porter’s decision to move Wallace, used throughout most of his pro career as a fullback, into an attacking role as a wide forward in a 4-3-3. The result has been a breakout season that has seen Wallace emerge as one of the most dangerous wing players in MLS.
The Costa Rican National Team player has produced four goals and five assists since emerging as a regular starter, and despite his time away with Costa Rica in June and July, his season still stacks up as the most impressive turnaround in MLS this year.
Wallace isn’t the only player in MLS to enjoy either a breakout campaign, or a turnaround after a rough 2012. Here is a rundown of the other players who were in the running for MLS Mid-Season Most Improved Player of the Year, as well as SBI’s Mid-Season Most Improved Best XI:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON MOST IMPROVED PLAYER CANDIDATES
1. RODNEY WALLACE
Before the season began you could probably find more Portland Timbers fans who would have been fine with Wallace being waived, but Caleb Porter moved Wallace into an attacking role and he’s been a terror ever since.
2. DIEGO FAGUNDEZ
It isn’t exactly a surprise that he is having a breakout season. He has long been regarded as a future star, and now he is showing just why folks in New England have been buzzing about him for years.
3. RUSSELL TEIBERT
The young Canadian sensation has been a real revelation for the Vancouver Whitecaps, producing two goals and six assists in 11 matches since becoming a regular.
4. ATIBA HARRIS
After enduring an injury-plagued two-year stint in Vancouver, Harris arrived in Colorado without much expected. All he has done is set a career high for goals already (with five) and become a real leader on a team that has done well despite a ton of injuries.
5. BOBBY SHUTTLEWORTH
The New England Revolution have posted the best defensive numbers in the league so far this season, and while the back four deserves a lot of credit for that, Shuttleworth has also done his part, making several quality saves and establishing himself as one of the pleasant surprises of the season.
SBI MLS MID-SEASON MOST IMPROVED BEST XI
Rodney Wallace——Lamar Neagle———Atiba Harris
Diego Fagundez——————————Russell Teibert
Roy Miller————————————Kofi Sarkodie
——Andrew Jean-Baptiste—Shane O’Neill————–
Donovan Ricketts, Brad Knighton, Ethan White, Hassoun Camara, Nathan Sturgis, Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Kelyn Rowe, Andrew Jacobson, Conor Casey, Joao Plata.
What do you think of our pick? What player would receive your vote for SBI MLS Most Improved Player so far in 2013?
Share your thoughts below.