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There's been some key additions and of course, one major loss in the shape of striker Camilo Sanvezzo. It's not easy to replace a 22-goal forward and Vancouver hasn't tried to. Instead, they have focused on strengthening their major area of weakness last season.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Players to Watch During the 2014 MLS Season

It's been an off-season of change at Vancouver Whitecaps, with 11 new players on their MLS roster and a new coaching team to manage them.


There's been some key additions and of course, one major loss in the shape of MLS Golden Boot winning striker Camilo Sanvezzo. It's not easy to replace a 22-goal forward and Vancouver hasn't tried to. Instead, they have focused on strengthening their major area of weakness last season - the lack of creativity coming from their midfield.


When it comes to picking just three players to watch, you can find them in each area of the team...




KENNY MILLER - The only striker of any real experience in Vancouver right now is their Scottish DP and he is a key player. For the Whitecaps to thrive he needs to not only stay healthy after last season's injury woes, but regularly finish off the chances afforded to him by the new look midfield. After having to do so much of the leg work himself last year, Miller should benefit from the new creative forces, and players who will anticipate what runs and passes to make. He also has an important role to play in helping the crop of young talent as the Caps take the next step.





PEDRO MORALES - In the middle, new Designated Player attacking mid Morales will be where a lot of the new creativity is expected to come from. He is a true number 10 but the adjustment to a new league is never easy and many Europeans seem to struggle with the switch to MLS. He will score goals and provide assists, but can he hit the ground running?





STEVEN BEITASHOUR - New coach Carl Robinson has only brought in two players with previous MLS experience and Beitashour may prove to be one of his best overall off-season acquisitions. He will not only replace the retired YP Lee, but prove to be a considerable upgrade. On his best day, the former San Jose Earthquake is one of the most reliable right-backs in MLS right now and from what he has shown in preseason, he will tear up that right wing. He'll also provide more of an attacking threat and assists than Lee did. Beitashour is likely to be missing for several weeks in May and June when away on international duty with Iran.





CHRISTIAN DEAN - Vancouver has a very experienced back four. The worry is how healthy they can stay. You have to feel it is extremely unlikely that both Jay DeMerit and Andy O'Brien can go the whole season. Others will step up and the man to really seize his chance should be Dean. The Caps' first draft pick in this year's SuperDraft, Dean, has been a man mountain in the preseason, impressing many and not looking out of place. His bruising challenge on Steven Lenhart in the Rose City tournament, that led to an injury for the San Jose striker, has already endeared him to the fans. Expect his actual play to build upon that and he could be a first team starting regular by the season's end.

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10 hrs. ago

M'Baye Niang put the nightmare of the Paris terror attacks firmly behind him with two goals and an assist as AC Milan crushed a sorry Sampdoria 4-1 at the San Siro on Saturday.

Niang admitted last week the events of the past fortnight had left him worried for the safety of family and friends in and around the French capital.

But the 20-year-old from the Paris suburbs produced a confident performance for the Rossoneri, first delivering for Giacomo Bonaventura's opener on 16 minutes and then beating Emiliano Viviano from the spot after the Milan winger had been hauled down in the area seven minutes before the interval.

Niang secured Milan's seventh win of the campaign when he fired under Viviano four minutes after the restart after the 'keeper's fluffed clearance.

When he was replaced by Luiz Adriano 15 minutes from the whistle it took the Brazilian just four minutes to find the net after volleying Alessio Cerci's intelligent cross past Viviano.

The only blot on Milan's copybook was Gianluigi Donnarumma's failure to stop Luis Muriel from the spot after Andrea Pioli had tugged on Eder in the area in the closing minutes.

Milan moved up to fifth place at seven points behind leaders Inter ahead of the remainder of the weekend matches, with Sampdoria's second successive defeat under new coach Vincenzo Montella leaving them 14 points adrift.

"It was an almost perfect performance," said Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who gave a special mention to Niang.

"He's a big player for us, he was doing really well in pre-season then he got injured. Now he's back in form and he's doing well, but he already showed at Genoa (loan) what he was made of."

For the fifth consecutive match Mihajlovic opted for teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma over the more experienced Diego Lopez but the 16-year-old had to dive low to parry after his messy clearance fell to Roberto 

Soriano 30 yards out in the opening minute.

From then on, it was all Milan with Niang the main protagonist before making way for Adriano on 74 minutes.

Having spent the last half of last season on loan at Genoa, the striker said he in enjoying playing in a pure 

striker's role under Mihajlovic.

"I'm really happy because I've been waiting for this for a longtime, the hard work's paying off and I hope it continues like this," said Niang.

"I played as a centre-forward, the position I prefer and I think that along with our win over Lazio this was our best display this season."

Milan broke the deadlock on 16 minutes with Alessio Cerci, whose eighth minute goal was ruled offside, involved before Niang burst down the right to fire in a weighted delivery that Bonaventura slid in to meet at the back post.

Milan built on their momentum and Niang almost doubled the lead when he collected Juraj Kucka's short delivery on the right to drag his angled shot inches wide of Viviano's far post.

Sampdoria were struggling to find any rhythm and Milan's movement in the final third of the pitch was causing huge problems for the visitors.

Niang left Edgar Barreto behind to burst down the right and fire across the bows, but Bonaventura's first-timer from the six-yard line blasted over.

Samp's only real chance came when Luis Muriel dribbled his way into the area but despite turning Milan's defence his promising strike was blocked by Alessio Romagnoli.

Niang came close twice with flicks that inched wide of Viviano's post just after the restart.

But when the 'keeper fluffed a clearance, Niang collected and strode confidently into the area to fire under his body and secure the second brace of his Serie A career, after hitting a double for Genoa against Verona last season.

A tiring Niang soon made way for Adriano and only four minutes later Cerci was given time and space to the right of the area to pick out the Brazilian with a pinpoint pass which he controlled before firing past a helpless Viviano.

Earlier, Torino moved up to seventh place with a 2-0 home win over Bologna thanks to second-half goals from Andrea Belotti and Giuseppe Vives.