MLS 2013 Season Preview
As the European Leagues start to wind down, the MLS is getting ready for it's 18th season, which will be arugably the biggest in their history. After a huge season in 2012, the MLS jumped the NBA and NHL in average attendence with a 5.2% rise in attendence, and the quality of play has sharply rised, with more American teams contending in the later stages of the CONCACAF Champions League. The MLS season is just around the corner, so here's a preview of what's to come.
Who Do You Think Will Have A Better Season?
3 Players To Watch
- Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution: Nguyen's debut season in America started off brightly, but unfortunatly ended early due to injury. Nguyen plays as a center midfielder, but is strong attacking and defending, and a true leader. He has some issues disciplinary wise, but his talent on and off the ball make up for it.
- Mike Magee, LA Galaxy: After years of being the stereotypical mediocre MLS player, Magee broke out towards the end of the 2012 season, claiming the Galaxy's Mr. November award. Magee has always been the player you don't quite know what to expect from, and it will be interesting to see how this 2013 season plays out.
- Connor Lade, NY Red Bulls: Lade comes into the 2013 season as one of the hottest prospects, a title he carries over from a solid rookie season. The defender/midfielder netted 2 goals for the Red Bulls in 26 apperances and was a underdog contender for rookie of the year. Despite his solid performances, the Red Bulls expected more of him offensively, and could look to trade him if he doesn't improve. Look out, as he could be part of a blockbuster move later on in the season.
Team Previews: Easter Conference
- Toronto FC (Last Season: 10th): After a disastrous 2012 campaign, things can go nowhere but up for the Reds. Big changes have been made to the team, with former QPR player Ryan Nelsen getting his first shot as a manager and Kevin Payne taking over as the GM. Left-Back Ashtone Morgan is one to watch, as the TFC Academy graduate will get his first season as a consistant starter. Toronto had a great draft and has set down the foundation for the future, but the team is a year or two away from being a threat. Projected Finish: 10th
- Chicago Fire (4th): The Fire were the surprise of last season by making the playoffs, however it will be a tough job keeping that spot. Chris Rolfe lead the team in goals last season, with Patrick Nyarko leading the team in assists. Don't expect much from the Fire, who really have no x-factor player. Projected Finish: 9th
- Montreal Impact (7th): Impact fans come into this season unsure if they are playoff contenders or if this is a rebuilding season after a decent first year in the league. Sanna Nyassi will be a key part in this year's campaign as will Andrea Pisanu and Marco Di Vaio. The Impact will improve, but don't have that attacking force to make/contend for the playoffs. Projected Finish: 8th
- Philadelphia Union (8th): Just like with the Impact, no one know what to expect this season from the Union. Overall the attacking should be fine with Sébastien Le Toux and Antoine Hoppenot providing speed and power. The midfield and defense is very spotty, with Michael Farfan, Sheanon Williams and Amobi Okugo as the highlights. This team has pieces, but not the connecting pieces. Projected Finish: 7th
- Columbus Crew (6th): The Crew will have a rebuilding season this year, but still could contend for the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Crew had a steady off-season with no real major changes to their roster. Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum will play a big role in keeping 'America's Hardest Working Team' in those close games. Federico Higuaín and Jairo Arrieta are one of the top duos in the league, so if the midfield can improve, the Crew can contend. Projected Finish: 6th
- New England Revolution (9th): After years of sub-par campaigns, the Revs are ready to compete for a playoff spot again. Saër Sène has deadly stuff from inside and outside of the box, and Kalifa Cissé and Lee Nguyen create a dynamic midfield. If first overall pick Andrew Farrell plays as expected, the Revs could be the surprise of the season. Projected Finish: 5th
- New York Red Bulls (3rd): A shaky off-season and a poor pre-season could be an omen for bad things to come for the Red Bulls. Tim Cahill has been a bust, and starting goalkeeper Ryan Meara is young and talented, but very inconstant. Jamison Olavo is a great addition to the squad and joins a very strong back-line. Some in-season transfers will need to be made, but the defense will get the Red Bulls into the playoffs. Barely. Projected Finish: 4th
- Sporting Kansas City (1st): Sporting KC was arguably the best MLS team last season. Benny Feilhaber joined The Wiz in the most notable move of the summer, while Kei Kamara is currently on loan at Norwich City. Teal Bunbury should take over for Kamara, which isn't bad news for Sporting fans as Bunbury and CJ Sapong make just as much a deadly duo as Sapong and Kamara. Really no downside to this team, but they might get off to a slow start without Kei Kamara. Projected Finish: 3rd
- Houston Dynamo (5th): The Dynamo have without a doubt the best home crowd in all of the Eastern Conference and didn't lose a single game at the new BBVA Compass Stadium all of last year. Will Bruin will lead the attacking forces, and will be accompanied by Omar Cummings, Brian Ching or Cam Weaver to make a speedy front line. The Dynamo's biggest concern is their backline depth, and they could trade away Ching or Weaver to sign a defender during the season. The Dynamo are a very good team, but the depth just isn't there for a first place finish. Projected Finish: 2nd
- DC United: (2nd): The question that everyone is asking this pre-season, is how will DC cope without young prodigy Andy Najar? The answer to that is just fine. The Black and Red boast a powerful midfield featuring Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Lewis Neal and Raphael Augusto. Only better than DC's midfield is their attacking forces, which features Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius. The defense is average, and gets the job done, but when they don't future USA goalkeeper Bill Hamid is there to save the day. Projected Finish: 1st
Team Previews: Western Conference
- Chivas USA (9th): A new era is coming upon Chivas with the appointment of José Luis Sánchez Solá. Solá disassembled most of the Rojiblancos' squad over the offseason, getting rid of midfielders Nick LaBrocca and Shalrie Joseph, along with forwards Juan Pablo Ángel and Casey Townsend. The most notable addition is Eric Avila who arrived from Colorado, but the squad will need more work before getting out of the Western Conference cellar. Chivas will be exciting, but don't have the team to get the results and will be the punching bag in a strong Western Conference. Projected Finish: 9th
- Colorado Rapids (7th): It's a (mostly) rebuilding year for the Rapids, however if they get hot, they could go on a run for the playoffs. Edson Buddle will be the star man for the Rapids, while Drew Moor will supply the consistence on defense. Conor Casey, Omar Cummings and Jeff Larentowicz all left the team over the offseason. This year showcases the most competitive Western Conference ever, and the Rapids just don't have the skill be a threat. Projected Finish: 8th
- Portland Timbers (8th):Just like 2012, this season has so much potential for the Timbers, but just like 2012, the Western Conference will prove too tough for Portland to make the playoffs. Diego Valeri, Diego Chara and Darlington Nagbe will be the big names, while Frederic Piquionne, Will Johnson and Mikael Silvestre will play a supporting role. Portland had a great post-season, but a playoff spot is most likely out of reach. Projected Finish: 7th
- FC Dallas (6th): The big news surrounding the FC Dallas camp is Brek Shea's transfer to Stoke City, and for the most part, that's bad news for Dallas. Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper have been brought in to replace the attacking threat that Shea imposed on the opposition, but the main name to know is David Ferreira. Ferreira is often hit with injuries, and Dallas' success relies on him staying healthy. Look for Dallas to compete with LA and Vancouver for those last two playoff spots. Projected Finish: 6th
- Los Angeles Galaxy (4th):The defending champs come into the new season without Beckham or Donovan for the first time in years. Becks left for PSG, while Donovan is on sabbatical in Cambodia. A slow offseason saw Kyle Nakazawa and Pat Noonan retire, and had Carlo Cudicini as the only real addition. Jose Villarreal will compete with Mike Magee to be alongside Robbie Keane on the frontline, and A.J. DeLaGarza looks to be bound for a terrific season. Donovan's return will be key, as will some mid-season additions, but LA should make the playoffs. Projected Finish: 5th
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5th): The 'Caps have some of the best attackers in the league in Darren Mattocks and Camilo, and now they have one of the best defenses. Nigel Reo-Coker was signed to play a CDM spot, helping out a defense that boasts Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien. If this team starts rolling, the rest of the conference better watch out. Projected Finish: 4th
- Real Salt Lake (2nd):Last season started so brightly for RSL, but ended so frustratingly, with the Royals being eliminated in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League and blew a solid lead in the Supporters’ Shield to fall out of serious contention. After a roster shake-up that saw Jámison Olave, Will Johnson and Fabián Espíndola leave the club, RSL has the salary space to add a player mid-season and compete for the Western Conference title. Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Luis Gil and Kyle Beckerman and the big names, and have the chemistry to go on a run. The forward position is the only concern, with Álvaro Saborío as the lone main man. Salt Lake is good, but too inconsistant to be a threat for the title. Projected Finish: 3rd
- San Jose Earthquakes (1st): After a season that no one saw coming, the 'quakes now have their eyes set on the MLS title. Injuries may threaten those plans, as strikers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart will start this season on the sidelines. Mike Fucito will now accompany Chris Wondolowski for First Kick, in what seems to be the oddest front line in the MLS. Sam Cronin will help the Earthquakes control the tempo of the game, and is very underrated. The Earthquakes have the stuff, but just not enough healthy stuff. Projected Finish: 2nd
- Seattle Sounders FC (3rd): Consistency will be key for the Sounders this year, who's cold streaks last season arguably cost them the Western Conference title. The Rave Green added midfielders Shalrie Joseph and Lamar Neagle along with defender Djimi Traoré, and Obafemi Martins is very close to joining the club. Fredy Montero is gone, which heaps the pressure onto Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales, but they should be able to fill his gap. Michael Gspurning is the best goalkeeper in the MLS, and has Adam Johansson and Djimi Traoré in front of him. If all goes as planned, this will be the Sounders year.