September 11, 2007, 7:04 pm Handicapping Top M.L.S. Newcomers By Jack Bell Tags: Beckham, Blanco, Chicago Fire, Claudio Reyna, Cuauhtémoc, DC United, MLS They hardly qualify as rookies. Indeed the mere concept is probably alien to this year’s crop of veteran international players who have turned up in Major League Soccer. While Major League Baseball has grappled for years with the notion of a veteran player from, say Japan, coming to the United States and being considered a rookie, in the strictest sense, the major domos at M.L.S. H.Q. in New York have come up with an answer — the Newcomer of the Year award. And while it might seem to be a no-brainer that the current top scorer, Brazilian Luciano Emilio of D.C. United, would be a shoo-in for the award, consider that several other players are playing important roles that may be more significant. Here’s a subjective listing of some of the candidates: Juan Pablo Ángel The New York Red Bulls striker from Colombia leads the team with 12 goals and 4 assists since joining the club in May from Aston Villa of the English Premier League. Ángel exudes class on the field, with every deft touch of the ball. He has made nearly every one of his teammates better. His simple approach is usually the correct approach. He is fluent in English. Juan Toja The F.C. Dallas midfielder, another Colombian, scored the winning goal in the M.L.S. All-Stars victory over Glasgow Celtic. He currently has 6 goals and is easy to pick out on the field because of his wild hair that reminds some of Carlos Valderrama. He is a tireless worker who covers the entire field. Maykel Galindo The Chivas USA striker defected from Cuba during the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup. He has been the goal-scoring spark Chivas has been searching for and leads the team with 12 goals and 5 assists. Galindo combines power and speed with some amazing athletic ability. Luciano Emilio The D.C. United striker from Brazil is the league’s leading scorer with 18 goals (he has 1 assist) after a recent flurry of goals. Emilio started the season strong, slacked off midseason, but has come on lately. He scored two goals in April, none in May and five in June. Although he is a lethal scorer, Emilio has squandered some excellent changes. Guillermo Barros Schelotto The Columbus Crew midfielder from Argentina was not signed as a designated player but certainly qualifies as the best non-designated acquisition by any M.L.S. team. He has 4 goals and 9 assists and almost single-handedly lifted the Crew into playoff contention. An incredibly accurate passer who has the ability to dissect any opposing defense. Cuauhtémoc Blanco The Chicago striker from Mexico has single-handedly energized a moribund Fire squad since he arrived after the Copa América. He has 2 goals and 4 assists in only 7 games. Part of a puzzle that come together with a new coach, Juan Carlos Osorio and Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope. Has brought incredible passion to the game each time he steps on the field. Pablo Ricchetti The F.C. Dallas midfielder from Argentina has lent needed stability to the club’s midfield after past turnover. He generally plays deep in the midfield. Dallas has a 10-4-2 record with him in the lineup; and a 2-4-2 record without him. Carlos Marinelli The Kansas City midfielder from Argentina has 1 goals and 5 assists and has stepped into the playmaking role vacated several years ago by Preki. Wonderful control, deft passing … and it is no coincidence that Eddie Johnson has discovered his scoring touch. Bulletin: It is the guys supplying the ball who make the difference for every scorer. Fred The D.C. United midfielder from Brazil has 6 goals and 5 assists and seems to have finally settled into after some shaky performances early in the season. Those are the best, now here are some of the rest: Conor Casey (Colorado), Denilson (F.C. Dallas), Fabian Espindola (Real Salt Lake), Guy-Roland Kpene (D.C. United), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Claudio Reyna (Red Bulls), Wanchope (Chicago) and Abel Xavier (Los Angeles). Conspicuous by his absence: David Beckham, who will probably miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury.