3/4/16 MLS Season Kickoff Sun, Champ League Tues/Wed,Games of Week

So MLS – US Major League Soccer – Kicks off this Weekend for its __ Season.  I have to say after taking in the exciting Portland victory over Columbus in last season’s Final at Crew Stadium I am as excited about this upcoming MLS season as any in a long time. I know its not Europe or Champions League – but there are again some exciting new signees, tons of US national team players and quite honestly some players I wouldn’t mind seeing – (NYCFC – Pirlo, Lampard, Villa; Orlando with Kaka, LA with with Gerard, dos Santos, Robbie Keane; Toronto FC with Altidore, Giovincho, and Bradley, Portland – the defending Champs with Nat Borchers and Nagbe and of course still my favorite team – Seattle with Dempsey & Chad Morris.  Still not sure how I will see all the games I want but certainly when these teams are playing I will be watching.   Sunday is Soccer Night in America as ESPN and Fox Sports 1 will feature National Games of the Week – this week its defending champs Portland and their amazing home crowd hosting runner’s up Columbus Crew at 4:30 pm on ESPN, with Seattle and the Best Home Crowd in America facing Sporting KC at USMNT star Matt Beasler at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.

So lovely EPL games this past midweek as Leicester City managed to hang on to their 1 game lead over Tottenham and 2 over Arsenal despite their tie with West Brom.  Only Man United, West Ham and Liverpool took advantage to slide up a very tight table as the battle for top 4 (CL) and top 6 (Europa) intensifies with just 10 games left in the EPL Season.  Arsenal gets a chance to stop their slide and catch up to the #2 team Sat 7:45 am at Tottenham on NBCSN.

Finally both Champions League and Europa League Sweet 16 action return next week as Real Madrid return home Tuesday on FS1 2:45 to face Roma with a 2-1 lead and Chelsea takes a 1-2 deficit into its home match with PSG on Wed 2:45 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Europa has 2 solid games on Thurs as Liverpool host Man U at 3 pm FS1, and Tottenham travels to face German power Borrusia Dortmand at 1 pm FS2.

GAMES OF THE WEEK

 

Tues, March 8 –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                Real Madrid vs Roma                                               

2:45 pm Fox Soccer    Wolfsburg vs Gent

Wed, March 9 –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                Chelsea 1 vs PSG 2

2:45 pm Fox Sport2    Zenit vs Benfica

7:30 pm ESPN?         US Women vs Germany (Boca, FL)

 Thur, Mar 9 -Europa League

1 pm Fox Sports 2        Borusia Dortmund vs Tottenham

3 pm Fox Sport1,ESPN3  Liverpool vs Man United     

US Ladies beat France – 5 things we learned

Champions League

What to Watch 4 Video UCL Return Legs

Real 2 v Roma 0 Preview  Tues 2:45 Fox Sports 1

Wolfsburg 3 – 2 Gent   Tues 2:45 Fox Sports Local

Down 2-0 Roma looks to score first at Real Madrid

Chelsa 1 – PSG 2 Preview Wed 2:45 Fox Sports 1

Zenit 0 – Benefica 1 Preview  Wed 2:45 FS 2

PSG man Confident they handle Chelsea

Gent believes in Belgium miracle

 Nari2

Congrats to Indiana Soccer Manager of the Year, Carmel FC’s Nari Chapman!

 andyfray

Former Carmel FC Director Andy Fray was one of the 4 Finalist for Volunteer of the Year.  Congrats to you and thanks for all you have done for Carmel FC.

MLS

Season Starts Video

ESPN MLS Predictions

MLS Preseason Power Rankings  Jason Davis

MLS Power Rankings SI – Luvi Bird

Can Portland Repeat ?

What to Watch for Opening Day

Biggest Questions Facing All 20 Teams as MLS Season Kicks Off

Can Promotion/Relegation Ever Work in the US?

Nat Borchers thirst for knowledge will help “the Beard and the Timbers” in title defense

LA Galaxy Crash out of CCL in 4-0 loss to Mexican Santos Laguna

Armchair Analyst Rimando the Wall for RSL

Examining David Villa’s role for NYCFC

Can Larin replicate his rookie year heroics?

US 17 YO Christian Pulisic making Progress at Dortmund

US Fabian Johnson Scores 6th goal for Monchengladbach

Armchair Analyst Dempsey’s New Role for Club and Country – MLS.com

US gets the FIFA President It Wanted – Grahn Wahl SI

Jozy Altidore on Copa, Howard and Toronto FC

Copa Schedule –Philly.com

WORLD

Buffon up to 746 minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A

Ranking the Top Teams in the World

Juve Bonucci Key in Win over Inter Milan

Athletico win 3rd time in row at Real Madrid and complete La Liga Wrap-up

Real’s Benzema Out for Month with Knee

Germany Wrap-Up

Europe Superleague – ESPN FC -Marcotti

Europe Happenings –ESPN FC Marcotti

EPL

Title contenders All Stumble mid Week

What’s Trending World Wide ESPN FC

Man City’s Peligrino’s Gamble Pays off in Cup Win over Liverpool 

Backup Man City Keeper Caballero Saves 3 PKs in League Cup Shootout win over Liverpool

Liverpool’s Cup Final Defeat shows how far Klopp needs to Go

Klopps record in Cup Finals Needs Work

Reds Must Bounce Back

Europa League Round of 16 Draw

Tottenham show title credentials in Comeback over Swansea

Man U 18 yo Marcus Rashford Scores 2 again in defeat of Arsenal

Man U Youngsters Dominate Arsenal

Van Gaal’s Flop Was Trending

Van Gaal and United Impress

Cost of Players Man U vs Arsenal

Leicester Manager Claudio Ranieri proves he will take risks to chase the Title

Leicester must Avoid Complacency in Title Run – up 2 with 12 weeks left.

EPL Table

GAMES THIS WEEK

Sat, March 5: 

7:30 am NBCSN           Tottenham vs Arsenal

9:30 a.m., Fox Sport 1 Augsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen
9:30 a.m., Fox Sport 2 VfL Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (US Johnson)
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer + Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Ingolstadt

10 am NBCSN                Man City vs Aston Villa

10 am NBC Live Extra Chelsea vs Stoke City (US Cameron), Southhampton vs Sunderland (US Yedlin), Everton vs West Ham

10 am beIn Sport       Real Madrid vs Celta de Vigo
12:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Plus: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich (also free on Fox Sports Go, Tape Delay Sat 7 pm on FS2)

Sun, March 6: MLS Opening Weekend

8:30 am NBCSN         Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 1: Mainz vs. Darmstadt
11 am NBCSN           West Brom vs Man U

11:30 a.m., Fox Sports 1: Hamburg SV vs. Hertha Berlin (US John Brooks)

3 pm ESPN3              US Women vs France (Nashville, TN)

4:30 pm ESPN           Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew

7 pm Fox Sports 1    Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

Tues, March 8 –Champions League

2 pm Fox Sport2         Hull City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                Real Madrid vs Roma

2:45 pm Fox sportsnet Wolfsburg vs Gent

Wed, March 9 –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                Chelsea 1 vs PSG 2

2:45 pm Fox Sport2    Zenit vs Benfica

7:30 pm ESPN?         US Women vs Germany (Boca, FL)

Thurs, Mar 10

UEFA Europa League (Round of 16 first legs)

1 pm Fox Sports 2 Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur 
1 pm ESPN3: Basel vs. Sevilla, Fenerbahçe vs. Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Anderlecht

3 pm Fox Sports 2 ESPN3: Liverpool vs. Manchester United
3 pm ESPN Deportes: Villarreal vs. Bayer Leverkusen
3 pm ESPN3: Athletic Bilbao vs. Valencia

Sun, March 13: 

10 am NBCSN           Liverpool vs Chelsea

12 noon                     Aston Villa vs Tottenham

5 p.m. (ESPN2,)         New York City FC vs. Toronto FC

7 pm Fox Sports 1      San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers,

Tues, Mar 16  –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Man City vs Dynamo Kiev  3-1

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2  Athletico vs PSV Eindhoven 0-0

Wed, Mar 17  –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Barcelona vs Arsenal  2-0

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Bayern Munich vs Juventus 2-2

Fri, March 25: 

4:30 pm TBD          US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff

time TBD (beIN Sports,)  Guatemala vs. United States men, WC qualifier,

Tuesday, March 28:

7 pm (ESPN2)        United States men vs. Guatemala, WC qualifier-Columbus, OH Tickets 

Wednesday, March 29

9:30 pm ESPN2     US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff Texas

Copa Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 Official start times announced for all Copa America Centenario matches

February 29, 20162:01 PM ESTSam Stejskal  MLSsoccer.com

The Copa America Centenario organizing committee on Monday announced the start times to all of the tournament’s matches, with the US men’s national team set to kick off the tournament against Colombia at 9:30 pm ET at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Friday, June 3.The US will play their second group stage match at 8 pm ET on Tuesday, June 7 at Chicago’s Soldier Field, and will wrap Group A on Saturday, June 11 at 7 pm ET against Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.The tournament final will be held at 8 pm ET on Sunday, June 26 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Other notable group stage matches include a rematch of the 2015 Copa America final between Argentina and Chile in Group D on June 6 at 10 pm ET at Levi’s Stadium and a 2015 Gold Cup final rematch between Jamaica and Mexico in Group C on June 9 at 10 pm ET at the Rose Bowl.This summer’s tournament is being played in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Copa America. Expected to be the biggest men’s soccer tournament held on US soil since the 1994 World Cup, the June event will mark the first time the Copa America will ever be held outside of South America.The tournament, which will be broadcast in the US on Fox and Univision, will take place in 10 cities across the US, including in three MLS stadiums.

2016 MLS predictions: Who will win MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, MVP?

With the MLS season kicking off on Sunday, we turned to our league writers to predict who will be this season’s most successful sides. Jeff Carlisle, Doug McIntyre, Jason Davis, Graham Parker and Noah Davis tell us who they think will win MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield, MVP and more.

Jeff Carlisle: FC Dallas — FCD has been steadily building up its roster with an impressive mix of youth and experience. The key will be if Max Urruti can provide the kind of consistent forward play the team lacked last season.

Doug McIntyre: LA Galaxy — Boasting what is arguably the most stacked roster in league history this season, look for Bruce Arena’s team — the MLS Cup champs in 2011, ’12 and ’14 — to return to the promised land in 2016.

Jason Davis: Columbus Crew SC — In 2015, Columbus Crew SC played some of the best soccer in the league and wound up hosting a final. Barring a disastrous series of injuries, there’s no reason to think they can’t do it again, this time finishing the job with a championship.

Graham Parker: Vancouver Whitecaps — I think this is the season that the Whitecaps roster has been building toward, and now is the time for them to come good, if they are going to come good at all. Like Portland, they might not dominate throughout the year, but I expect them to be solidly in the mix with a balanced squad at the end.

Noah Davis: Toronto FC — In 2015, TFC scored in bunches but would have struggled to defend a good U-20 side. The arrival of midfielder Will Johnson and defenders Steven Beitashour and Drew Moor should give them more bang at the back. And new arrival Clint Irwin will be in goal to clean up any mistakes.

Supporters’ Shield

Carlisle: Columbus Crew SC — The continuing imbalance in conference strength means an Eastern Conference club is likely to walk away with the Shield, and Columbus will be the biggest beneficiary.

McIntyre: LA Galaxy — With 31-year-old Dutch destroyer Nigel de Jong joining an absurdly deep squad that includes Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerrard — who’ll both be better this year after a full preseason in L.A. — Ashley Cole, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, no team will be better than the Galaxy in 2016.

J. Davis: Vancouver Whitecaps — The remarkable thing about the Caps’ second-place finish in the West last year was that they managed it with a mediocre home record. If Vancouver performs as well on the road as they did in 2015 and gets a few more wins at home, they’ll win the Shield.

Parker: FC Dallas — The West is always competitive, yet Dallas managed to take the Shield race to goal difference on the last day. The only caveat is that there will be no Blas Perez this year, having moved to Vancouver, to provide the brute-force goal threat when more subtle strategies fail. But they look to have compensated for his loss and should have enough to keep the Shield in sight.

N. Davis: FC Dallas — Mad genius Oscar Pareja nearly led his gaggle of young players to last season’s top spot but lost out on goal differential to the New York Red Bulls. If Fabian Castillo stays and Mauro Diaz remains healthy — big ifs, yes — Pareja will have them there again despite playing in the West; players like Kellyn Acosta and Jesse Gonzalez will have another year under their belts.

Western Conference champion

Carlisle: FC Dallas — While questions surround the likes of the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders, Dallas retrenched through offseason acquisitions such as Urruti, Carlos Gruezo and Mauro Rosales, making them the favorites.

McIntyre: LA Galaxy — FC Dallas probably overachieved as the West’s best in 2015, and Seattle could struggle early after losing Martins to China on the eve of the new season.

J. Davis: FC Dallas — One gets the feeling that Pareja is not only on the verge of putting together a championship season with an exciting young team, but that there could be a dynasty in the making in north Texas. An extra year of experience and a few key additions make FC Dallas the pick in the West.

Parker: FC Dallas — This is set up to be the year for Dallas. The dividends of investing in youth under Pareja should be apparent this season, with the exponential improvement of those players augmented with some smart, strategic guile. Speed, talent, depth and, increasingly, experience will form this team.

N. Davis: Seattle Sounders — Any one of half a dozen teams could emerge from the brutal West, but I’ll ride with the perpetual coaching genius of Sigi Schmid and the perennial heroics of Clint Dempsey. Jordan Morris will relieve pressure with his speed, while Cristian Roldan seems set for a DeAndre Yedlin-esque breakout season.

Eastern Conference champion

Carlisle: Columbus Crew SC — A lack of defensive solidity held the Crew back last year, but the defense improved down the stretch, and Gregg Berhalter looks to have made some astute pickups in the offseason.

McIntyre: New York Red Bulls — Last year’s best regular-season squad will be hard pressed to repeat as Supporters’ Shield winners, but they’re still the East’s most complete team despite selling blue-chip center-back Miazga to Chelsea in January.

J. Davis: Columbus Crew SC — As much attention as Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain and Columbus’ wings get, it’s Crew SC’s central midfield that holds the key to their title aspirations. Wil Trapp is good and growing, while Tony Tchani can use the disappointment of the MLS Cup to become a more dependable destroyer.

Parker: Columbus Crew SC — I don’t think that the Red Bulls’ drop off will be drastic, but I also think that teams will be better prepared for them this year, and Columbus are a team who are collectively still in the ascendancy. The Crew just match up well with everyone.

N. Davis: Toronto FC — Having already discussed Toronto’s fortified defense, let’s talk about the attack. You already know about Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and 2015 MVP Sebastian Giovinco, but pay attention to silky smooth 20-year-old Marky Delgado, a developing creative force whom the TFC coaching staff loves.

Most Valuable Player

Carlisle: Mauro Diaz — The Argentine proved his fitness last year, and the rest of the league was the worse for it. Now Diaz is poised to take his game even higher.

McIntyre: Didier Drogba — He turns 38 this month, but Drogba proved to be the most physically dominant forward in MLS history after arriving last summer. If he stays healthy and comes anywhere close to his 2015 strike rate (11 goals in 11 regular-season games), the league’s two-decade-old single-year goals mark of 27 could fall.

J. Davis: Sebastian Giovinco — The saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Giovinco ain’t broke, and while the Italian forward might miss some time away on national team duty this year, he remains the most irresistible attacker in the league, hence there’s no need to “fix it” by picking anyone else for MVP.

Parker: Sebastian Giovinco — Giovinco’s an obvious choice, but he’s theobvious choice. Add in the fact that Toronto have put in the right pieces of MLS experience to strengthen their team and Giovinco’s sheer brilliance even when he’s singled out for marking, and he’s the man to beat again.

N. Davis: Michael Bradley — TFC should have MLS’s best attack and Bradley will be the facilitator. He might not produce the highlight-reel goals of Giovinco, but assuming the Italian stud’s numbers drop a bit from 2015 — due to a more productive Altidore than anything — it’s easy to see Bradley’s strong two-way play getting credit from the voters.

Timbers, Columbus top the MLS Power Rankings ahead of 2016 season

The first edition of the 2016 Major League Soccer Power Rankings looks a lot like the final standings from the 2015 season, and for good reason.

If you don’t include No. 1 — Portland, who earned it with a championship — the rest of the list turns mostly on how things shook out last year. But this being MLS, we’ll find out quickly which teams can maintain a foundation laid in 2015, which teams will fall and which of the also-rans can climb up the ladder.

1. Portland Timbers

Top spot goes to the defending champs, as is only just and right. As the season opens, the biggest question around the Timbers is whether they’ll start 2016 half as hot as they finished 2015.

2. Columbus Crew SC

Gregg Berhalter’s team will surely enter the new year hungry for redemption after their flat performance in last year’s final. All of the weapons are in place for another chance at glory.

3. New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls lost young star Matt Miazga, but with a team-focused mentality and the leadership they possess across the squad, expect New York to be around the top of the standings all year long.

4. FC Dallas

The FC Dallas squad is still young, but that label can no longer be code for “unready.” Last year proved that Oscar Pareja’s side is on the verge of something special if it can keep the talented core intact.

5. Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver enters the year with significant expectations built on a 2015 campaign that probably didn’t show all of their potential. The Caps need consistent goal scoring from Octavio Rivero and a breakout year from Kekuta Manneh to meet the bar.

6. LA Galaxy

A handful of big, somewhat aging, names have joined Steven Gerrard as part of Bruce Arena’s rebuild of the Galaxy, and no one quite knows what that means yet. Can the Over the Hill Gang, MLS-style, get it done?

7. Seattle Sounders

With Obafemi Martins flipped for a profit to the Chinese Super League, more of the responsibility for the Sounders’ fortunes this year now shift to Nelson Valdez and Jordan Morris. Morris, in particular, is going to face the spotlight.

8. Montreal Impact

No one team in the Power Rankings faces possible swings as dramatic as the Impact. If Didier Drogba is healthy, committed and managed well, Montreal is a contender. If not, it’s anyone’s guess where they finish.

9. Sporting Kansas City

Sporting suffered quite a bit due to bad luck and some underwhelming performances in what proved to be a disappointing season in 2015. This campaign hinges on finding goals from the forwards, the continued excellence of Benny Feilhaber and that old Sporting swagger appearing again.

10. New England Revolution

Everyone tapped the Revs for another run to MLS Cup last year. Alas, this is MLS, and Jay Heaps’ team fell at the first hurdle to D.C. United. Now the task is adjusting to life without Jermaine Jones, no easy task.

11. D.C. United

United’s offseason probably to be more net loss than net gain. That’s how important midfielder Perry Kitchen was to Ben Olsen’s grind-it-out style. Can United succeed with the same approach swapping Marcelo Sarvas for Kitchen?

12. Toronto FC

Toronto’s Achilles’ heel in 2015 was their sieve-like defense, so the club went out and actively addressed the problem in the offseason. With a set of MLS vets in the mix, and their high-profile DPs in the attack, Toronto is raring to go.

13. Orlando City

A very strange offseason in Orlando remains the biggest talking point around a team with the talent to make the playoffs in 2016. Two-times turnover in the front office and what appears to be a question over direction make City a fascinating club to watch.

14. San Jose Earthquakes

Is improvement in the cards for the Quakes? Simon Dawkins, one of the keys to the club’s Supporters’ Shield season in 2012, is back, and Dom Kinnear has had more time to mold the club in his image.

15. Houston Dynamo

Missing out on the playoffs in the first year under Owen Coyle wasn’t all that surprising for the Dynamo. But if the club is right and Coyle is an exception to the foreign-coach-fails-in-MLS rule, 2016 will be telling.

16. New York City FC

Like Houston, New York’s biggest story is the adaptation of a foreign manager to the strangeness of MLS. Patrick Vieira doesn’t need to be a magician to fix what ails NYCFC, just really, really good in his first year in a new league.

17. Real Salt Lake

The days of RSL being an automatic selection for Western Conference contender might be over. Jeff Cassar does still have the ageless Javier Morales and Yura Movsisyan, however, so there’s at least hope for a bounce-back season.

18. Philadelphia Union

Earnie Stewart is remaking the Union in his image, a positive step out of the doom and gloom of the Nick Sakiewicz era. Still, can Philadelphia make the huge strides it will take to get themselves to the playoffs?

19. Chicago Fire

By all accounts, new Fire boss Veljko Paunovic plans to play a go-go pressing style that will, at the very least, make Chicago much more fun to watch this season. Until that style delivers points, however, they remain near the foot of the power rankings.

20. Colorado Rapids

How much difference can a high-priced goalkeeper make in MLS? Colorado did sign a striker during the winter — Shkelzen Gashi out of the Swiss league — but the biggest arrival will be USMNT man Tim Howard this summer.Jason Davis is a writer from Virginia covering American soccer.

MLS Preseason Power Rankings: Keys to success for each team

What are MLS coaches, executives most proud of about the league?

Plenty of talk surrounding MLS involves its needs and improvement areas, but what do top-ranking officials and coaches think has been a success?

Posted: Wed Mar. 2, 2016

In Major League Soccer more than perhaps any other league in the world, the previous season means little. Every year, the parity of the league ensures that even the teams that finished outside the playoffs just a few months prior could be the ones in the hunt for the trophy in December.It doesn’t happen magically or by accident, though. Teams have plenty of chances to overhaul their squad if necessary, or hire a new coach, between seasons, but stagnation is still possible.Here’s where each team stands heading into the 2016 season and its key to success in the new year (previous ranking based on playoff exit or regular-season finish):

MLS PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

 

  • 1 PORTLAND TIMBERS

 

LAST SEASON: 1

RECORD: 2015: 15-11-8

Repeating as champion will be tough, and the Timbers will have to handle the pressure of having a target on their back from the start of the season–while working in a slew of new faces–if they hope to do so in 2016.

  • 2COLUMBUS CREW SC

LAST SEASON: 2

RECORD: 2015: 15-11-8

Columbus should have a chip on its shoulder after the way 2015 ended, and this season will be about making good on the promise that the team, with its lineup kept largely intact, showed a year ago. A happy Kei Kamara will also go a long way, and reports that he’s nearing a lucrative new contract should handle that.

  • 3FC DALLAS

LAST SEASON: 3

RECORD: 2015: 18-10-6

Dallas should again put its faith in youth, but those younger players are now a year more experienced and have a deep playoff run to their name, making their play this season even more important.

  • 4NEW YORK RED BULLS

LAST SEASON: 4

RECORD: 2015: 18-10-6

After the way last season ended and losing Matt Miazga to Chelsea, the Red Bulls’ biggest question leading into 2016 is whether the back line can keep up with the rest of the squad and Jesse Marsch’s high-pressure system.

  • 5LA GALAXY

LAST SEASON: 9

RECORD: 2015: 14-11-9

Bruce Arena’s team is geared up to win now, with the acquisition of more veteran players over the offseason, making physical resilience and longevity the biggest question surrounding the team again.

  • 6VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

LAST SEASON: 6

RECORD: 2015: 16-13-5

The Whitecaps were dangerous on the counterattack all of 2015 but struggled when opponents allowed them the majority of possession, so Vancouver must be be better with the ball this year.

  • 7TORONTO FC

LAST SEASON: 12

RECORD: 2015: 15-15-4

TFC bolstered its defense by signing Clint Irwin, Will Johnson, Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour, perhaps finally giving the Reds the balance they need behind a high-priced attack to not just make the playoffs, but also win the league. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC enter MLS season with sky-high expectationsToronto FC striker Jozy Altidore looks at how far his team can go this season.

  • 8MOTREAL IMPACT

LAST SEASON: 7

RECORD: 2015: 15-13-6

Didier Drogba is back, and the Impact will need consistent scoring from their star man again to have a chance of seeing the same kind of attacking production as they did at the end of 2015.

  • 9SEATTLE SOUNDERS

LAST SEASON: 5

RECORD: 2015: 15-13-6

Seattle’s system change to fit Jordan Morris into the lineup means the attack–which lost Obafemi Martins to China–will be under constant scrutiny this season, as will an aging defensive core anchored by multiple players in their 30s.

  • 10D.C. UNITED

LAST SEASON: 8   ..

RECORD: 2015: 15-13-6

Traditionally a hard-nosed defensive team, D.C. showed in its loss to Querétaro in Champions League play how reliant it may be on the back again have to be if the attack can’t finish its chances. Can the club survive an early spell as goalkeeping ace Bill Hamid recovers from a knee injury?

  • 11SPORTING KANSAS CITY

LAST SEASON: 10

RECORD: 2015: 14-11-9

SKC acquired a couple of experienced wingers in Justin Mapp and Brad Davis this offseason, but after losing Krisztian Németh to Qatar, the biggest question will be who, aside from Dom Dwyer, finishes the chances they—and Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber—create.

  • 12ORLANDO CITY SC

LAST SEASON: 14

RECORD: 2015: 12-14-8

Consistency, not quality, was the issue for Orlando in its inaugural year, making it a burning question for the team as it kicks off its second season in MLS as well.

  • 13NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

LAST SEASON: 11

RECORD: 2015: 14-12-8

The Jermaine Jones saga overshadowed much of the Revs’ offseason, but whether Gershon Koffie and Xavier Kouassi (the Designated Player with a torn ACL) are viable replacements remains to be seen.

  • 14NEW YORK CITY FC

LAST SEASON: 17

RECORD: 2015: 10-17-7

Patrick Vieira’s transition into MLS will be an interesting story to follow, as the foreign manager looks to shirk the supposed curse that follows newcomer coaches into the league. Will a full year of David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo playing together make the difference?

 

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