In my occasionally humble opinion, one of the best things about an MLS season is seeing which players will enjoy revelatory campaigns.
I think you know what's coming. We're here with another tough-to-pick top 10 list, this time giving props to the guys who soared above (or, in a couple of cases, to) expectations in 2018.
No. 10: Tyler Miller
We've gotten a handful of small, promising glimpses of Miller over the past few years, but LAFC's Expansion Draft pick finally got to try on a starting role.
It suited him well. The 25-year-old quietly finished the year with 16 wins, 10 shutouts and his first US national team camp call.
No. 9: Corey Baird
The Real Salt Lake striker isn't on this list because we learned he was a good enough player to take Rookie of the Year honors. After Baird helped Stanford win three straight NCAA titles, a lot of folks figured that one out.
The thing is, he was more of a winger/attacking midfield type with the Cardinal. After a few decent runs on the flank (and the expensive Alfredo Ortuno flop), RSL moved Baird to the No. 9 role and found the forward that helps their team work best.
No. 8: Auston Trusty & Mark McKenzie
Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie | USA Today Sports Images
It is one mean feat to play center back as a teenager in Major League Soccer. Just ask the Philadelphia Union's top 2018 duo, because both of them know exactly what it's like. Both had bumps in the learning curve, as could be expected, but performed quite well overall.
Trusty played every minute of Philadelphia's season, snuffing out advances with athletic cruelty. McKenzie was the heady defender with an easy way about moving the ball out of the back.
No. 7: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
After New York City FC signed the Libyan winger, I wrote that he "could be a surprise with his wheels." The joke was on me because the surprise was Tajouri-Shradi's deadly finishing, which showed up early and often this season.
The 24-year-old had a couple of decent seasons in Austria, but his CV wasn't enough to let on that he'd net a dozen goals, including one in the postseason. Fun fact: Out of those 12 tallies, six gave his side a lead and four pulled them level.
No. 6: Reggie Cannon
Heading into the season, the young FC Dallas right back had worked a grand total of one MLS minute. Now, he's got 34 starts under his belt, and is a capped US international reportedly being chased by a horde of Liga MX clubs.
Cannon grabbed the open job in preseason camp and didn't let go. The 20-year-old handled business at the back and offered solid support moving the ball forward for a team that led the West late in the season before stumbling.
No. 5: Russell Canouse
The D.C. United defensive midfielder has been called into Gregg Berhalter's first January USMNT camp. It says here that summons should have been served back in the fall. Simply put, Canouse aggressively takes the ball away and then moves it along safely.
There's been plenty of deserved talk about some his teammates' role in the great playoff drive of 2018, but Canouse tends to get overlooked a bit. He returned from injury to enter the lineup on July 29. From that point, D.C. went 10-2-4 and posted five of their six shutouts.
No. 4: Kim Kee-hee
Okay, so the 29-year-old had some important South Korea caps and was a big-money buy in China. Still, Kim has never truly been first choice for his country and he'd never played pro outside Asia. It's not an easy adaptation to the MLS game from there.
No. 3: Cristian Penilla
Let's be frank. While the 27-year-old obviously arrived reeking of talent, there was nothing in Penilla's playing history to suggest he'd bust out to be New England's best player in his debut MLS season.
Penilla emerged quickly as the main Revs danger man, chalking up a dozen goals to go with seven assists on the campaign. The winger was a consistent menace to defenders on both flanks and a reliable pressure-valve outlet.
No. 2: Daniel Salloi
Salloi was quite arguably the most important SKC attacker this year, notching 11 goals and seven assists as his side finished tops in the Western Conference standings before adding another three strikes in the postseason. When he got on the score sheet in one way or another, Sporting went 14-3.
No. 1: Alphonso Davies
This one wasn't really a revelation in the surprise sense, but even the biggest prospects actually have to do it before you know they can do it. We now know Davies is a legit double-threat wing star in the making.
Prior to this season, the Vancouver Whitecaps Homegrown had all of one assist in about 1,350 MLS minutes. In 2018, he exploded for eight goals and 11 helpers, the big plays often coming in Simon Borg "Did you see that?!?" style. And, of course, the year ends with him already settled into Bayern Munich training following a record-smashing transfer.