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MLS Eastern Conference Preview

blanco MLS Eastern Conference Preview

1- Columbus

Guille Barros Schelotto continues to be the most dangerous player in MLS. Frankie Hejduk and Chad Marshall return to form a solid core at the back, and with Robert Warzycha a player of some note for club taking over for Sigi Schmid, the Crew will not miss a beat. The runaway favorites to repeat this season.

2- Chicago

Blanco and McBride. The best defense around and role players like John Thorrington, Chris Rolfe and Justin Mapp. This team is extremely dangerous but at times seems unsettled at home. Dropping points at Toyota Park was a problem last season: the Fire cannot afford for that to happen this year.  Maybe I’m simply looking for a reason not to pick an obvious choice to win the MLS Cup this season. Don’t be shocked if European clubs come calling for Gonzalo Segaras over the summer. He’s reached a level very few defenders in MLS since the early days of the league have achieved.

3- Toronto FC

Acquiring DeRo from Hosuton in addition to keeping Amado Guevara around another year makes this team lethal. Rohan Ricketts seemed more settled towards the end of last season and the addition of Pablo Vitti is massive. Add Adrian Serioux to what was a terrible defense a year ago and a coach perhaps too successful and smart to be in MLS, and you have a winning product. Danny Dichio returns for his final season as a football professional. That’s a cause worth fighting for, and expect the colorful and skilled Dichio to have a surprisingly strong impact this season.

4- New York

Speaking of managers, Juan Carlos Osorio has proven his quality the past two seasons. The Red Bulls are short on talent aside from superstar Juan Pablo Angel, but tactics and discipline more than fill the talent void. Khano Smith’s signing helps the team on left side of midfield and the two graduates of USL, Mac Kandji and Matt Mbuta should continue to provide the spark this season they did at the tail end of last season.

5- New England

Sadly the Revs, so solid for years are getting older and less capable. Father time caught up with this team last season, but thankfully they had won a trophy (even if it was sham event called Superliga) before the team went in the tank. An embarrassing 4-0 loss to Joe Public, or Trinidad at home typified the wear and tear fixture congestion, injuries and age had on the Revs. But with some luck, the Revs still have enough left to sneak into the playoffs for the eight straight season.

6- Kansas City

Curt Onalfo’s attacking minded tactics worked for the Wizards largely because defenders tend to lag behind in the MLS quality department. (turning on any random match from Europe  and comparing the defending to MLS matches will tell you this) But this season could mark a turning point for the league. the standard of defending and goalkeeping appears to be improving, while attacking play is stagnant. While that makes better football, it may be less entertaining. The Wizards lack the quality or the home stadium advantage to break out of the pack in a congested and difficult Eastern Conference. Were the Wiz, I mean the Wizards still out West, things would be different, as this team would finish 3rd in that conference.

7- DC United

How the mighty have fallen. Kevin Payne’s personnel mistakes from a year ago will not be easily corrected this season. Perhaps the greatest executive in league history even has an off year, but more pressing are stadium issues . What the Red and Black, MLS’ signature franchise does this season are immaterial. What needs to happen is for the PG’s County deal to come through without delay and to get United settled long term.

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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 →

5 Responses to MLS Eastern Conference Preview

  1. C Webb says:

    Kartik,

    I gaurantee you just made Daniel smile from ear to ear with you picking DC three spots below Red Bull.

    On the surface, I can’t really disagree that United potentially has a lot problems with aging attacking players and a defense that was woeful last season. Addition by subtraction (the two Gonzalo’s gone) seems to be the ticket that Soehn is banking on for at least a measurable improvement on the backline. Not having Zach Wells and his deer in the headlights look in goal is also an improvement for United with Crayton here from the start.

    The team is also going back to a 3-5-2 formation to start the season for two reasons. 1) to give Christian Gomez some protection in midfield that will allow him to attack and not have to worry about tracking back, which he would have had to do in a traditional 4-4-2. 2) Adding an additional defensive midfielder (don’t be shocked to see Andrew Jacobson line up next to Simms. This kid is GOOD.) can act as a de facto fourth defender. This of course will allow the back three to basically spend all their energy on defending and not have to worry about getting into the attack.

    I don’t think this team will have any problems offensively, provided they can get some rest for Gomez and Moreno at some points during the season. Not having to play an additional 10 international matches will go a long way towards helping that cause. Young players to keep an eye on are Jacobson, Chris Pontius and Rodney Wallace. Pontius has been especially effective in preseason scoring a number of goals and giving United some much needed size (a shade under 6’2″).

    Covering United as I do on http://www.unitedmania.com, I can bring myself to pick United last in this division. Outside of Chicago and Columbus, the other 5 teams are pick em’

  2. I had crew, fire, NYRB, NE Revs, TFC, KC and DC United. I see the east qualifying 5 teams.

  3. USA in 2010 says:

    I think we know DC must be terrible if someone so biased towards the team is picking them last. But yet Kartik still gets than nonsense, signature franchise thing in. Seattle, TFC, The Galaxy are all more signature franchises than DC.

  4. C Webb says:

    USA in 2010,

    How again is United not a signature franchise? The most successful franchise in league history is not a signature franchise?

    Look, I will concede that the Galaxy are also a signature franchise because of their great numbers year after year and their fantastic stadium as well as the Beckham Circus that has enveloped them the past three seasons.

    But I honestly stuggle to understand exactly how TFC and Seattle are signature franchises. You lose all credibility with statements like that. Fantastic support isn’t enough. You have to actually win something from time to time..

  5. USA in 2010,

    MLS may not even exist today in its current form if DC hadn’t been so successful and set the bar so high in the early years. So yes, I will continue to refer to them as the “signature franchise” as long as the league exists which we hope is for ever.

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