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MLS Western Conference Preview

616px kenny cooper 300x291 MLS Western Conference Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

1- Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis made few changes to an a squad full of accomplished veterans and promising youngsters. Nick Rimando continues to be a solid keeper while last season’s late additions of Robbie Russell, Clint Mathis and Will Johnson will really pay dividends this year. Javi Morales will continue to dominate in the midfield and that’s why RSL is the team to beat.
2- Houston

No DeRo means no title, but I’d never count a Dom Kinnear managed side out of contention. Unlike other MLS sides whose performance in CONCACAF was insulting to the game, Houston advanced to the knock out stages of the Champions League setting up a potentially productive 2009 with a younger team. Stuart Holden and Geoff Cameron are the players to watch this season for the Dynamo. The signing of backup keeper Tally Hall will allow the Dyanmo to manage 41 year old titan Pat Onstad’s schedule a little better.
3- Seattle

Had it not been for the foolish signing of Freddie Ljunberg, this would probably be the team to beat out west. Freddy Montero will quickly emerge as one of the top forwards in MLS, with Kasey Keller becoming the league’s best keeper instantly. Top to bottom this teams looks formidable and if Ljunberg somehow produces well, look out MLS!

4- San Jose

Frank Yallop and John Doyle”s decision to build from back as an expansion team paid dividends as the Quakes stayed in the Western Conference playoff hunt until late in the season. Darren Huckerby is without question a top foreign talent in the league and the addition of Bobby Convey gives the Quakes a strong left sided midfielder to compliment Huckerby and Arturo Alvarez (both of whom ironically are also left footed.) The Quakes aren’t very strong but in a weak Western Conference they have a chance to chase a playoff spot.

5- Colorado

Gary Smith did an outstanding job almost getting the Rapids to the playoffs a year ago, but this team appears short on talent and the ownership has been loathe to spend money in the past to upgrade the squad. But MLS is a mediocre league, and Smith an English manager with a good football background could make hay if he gets one or two more parts. I’ve got the Rapids outside the playoffs, but put this in pencil and not ink, because I have a lot of faith in Gary Smith and believe tactically he is one step ahead of most managers who are reared in the game stateside.

6- Los Angeles

From the look of the roster this is the worst team in MLS hands down. But this team is managed by Bruce Arena who is the best manager ever produced in the United States. Arena will get more out of this unit than any other manager can. Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein will provide veteran leadership to a young group and Landon Donovan’s return means the best American field player in a generation will be calling the Home Depot Center home once again.
7- Chivas USA

Preki has done a remarkable job of patching together a resourceful hard working side for the past two seasons. But this year it may be a little too tough even for a magician who scored the winning goal in the US’ only triumph over Brazil. Jesse Marsch and Ante Razov are two of the best players in league history but are also now a year older. The backline appears to be a mess and it looks like this team will rely heavily on untested youngsters. But if anyone can win with a group like this, it is Preki.

8- FC Dallas

The addition of Dave Van Den Bergh makes this year’s Hoops side much more compelling and potentially dangerous. Kenny Cooper and Jeff Cunningham return to form a lethal scoring combo. But Dallas is still weak at the back to be considered a real threat in the west. That’s why trading Adrian Serioux made little sense to me. In a conference where parity reigns, a defense as bad as that of the Hoops means a likely last place finish.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

4 Responses to MLS Western Conference Preview

  1. FC Dallas will not finish 8th. THe La Galxy have a worse defense.

  2. The site is great and added it my blog roll. Thanks

  3. USA in 2010 says:

    Other than your odd Chivas pick, a pretty reasonable list.

  4. LS says:

    A few quick points:
    – You don’t think San Jose might struggle at times to score goals?
    – I don’t doubt Chivas might struggle but I don’t see them being as bad as 7th
    – Doesn’t the Seattle backline seem a little worrisome to you? I think Keller could be seeing a lot of shots on goal this season
    – LA could sink even to last if Donovan comes back disspirited from his latest Euro-adventure

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