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2010 MLS Season Preview

640 spt0529 sounders p2standaloneprod affiliate5 2010 MLS Season Preview

With weeks of labor talk dominating the MLS headlines, the start of the season has been sneaking up on me.

Seems like a good time for a preview.

Eastern Conference

1. Columbus Crew- It’s hard to bet against them winning the Eastern Conference this year after watching them – in the preseason, no less, take Toluca to the limit in a CONCACAF Champions League match.

The core group is solid with Chad Marshall and Frankie Hedjuk anchoring the back and Robbie Rogers and the ageless (37)  Guillermo Barros Schelotto working in the midfield.

With rampant coaching and personnel changes in the East, the Crew look like the safest bet.

2. Toronto FC - I keep waiting for the team with, arguably, the best fan support in the league to finally produce a team worthy of their supporters’ passion.

Maybe Preki will be the manager that pulls it off.

Julian de Guzman and Dwayne De Rosario are the two biggest names in a lineup that won’t blow anyone away on paper. But again, this seems like a wide open race to me. And Preki, for my money, is the second-best manager in this conference behind Steve Nicol.

3. Chicago Fire- The Fire made headlines this week by waiving veteran keeper Jon Busch, so Andrew Dykstra will be between the pipes for the Fire in the season opener.

It’s a bold move for first-year coach Carlos de los Cobos, and one that could eventually define his legacy in the Windy City.

It’s also a move that makes me nervous about de los Cobos and his hold on the locker room. Toss in the combustible Collins John, and it’s a chemistry mix that I’m going to need to see work before I place too much faith in them.

4. New York Red Bulls – Can a new stadium, new manager and a few new players right the ship for the fighting energy drinks? We’ll see.

The 3-1 win over Santos, while only an exhibition, featured a far different looking side than the pitiful one that often took the pitch in 2009.

New manager Hans Backe has some better players and a glorious new home stadium to defend. Could be good times in (or is it near?) NYC.

5. New England Revolution – I won’t do it. I won’t rank a Nicol team any lower than this.

The roster looks a little thin, though. Corey Gibbs comes in, but a raft full of players like Jay Heaps, Chris Albright, Jeff Larentowicz and Steve Ralston left.

Nicol’s a high-quality coach, but any finish higher than this might me too ambitious.

6. D.C. United – Curt Analfo will have some new toys at his disposal in the nation’s capital, namely Christian Castillo and Danny Allsopp, but a lack of goals may eventually be this team Achilles Heel.

Still, Santino Quaranta is one of the league most exciting players, and his presence alone gives United a fighting chance.

7. Philadelphia Union – It’s an expansion team, but one with a good coach (Peter Nowak), talent in goal and enough solid defenders to make life tough on opposing offenses.

Goals, however, could be a real issue.

Still, a new stadium and a passionate fan base will make the home games easier for the Union – enough so to help them escape the cellar.

8. Kansas City Wizards – Dane Jimmy Neilsen is expected to be the starting keeper for coach Peter Vermes’ squad, and he figures to be rather busy.

Questions abound all over the roster, from the forwards all the way back to Jimmy Conrad in central defense.

Too many questions and not enough answers for me.

Western Conference

1. L.A. Galaxy – OK, I put the Galaxy here. I almost copped out and made it a tie with Seattle.

Really, it could go either way.

Landon Donovan is the headliner, but his 10-week loan spell in England and looming World Cup duty, might make him a bit leg weary down the stretch.

Still, I think Bruce Arena’s side is a tad deeper than Seattle and that gives them the ever-so-slight nod.

2. Seattle Sounders – Take a quality coach (Sigi Schmid), a terrific home field edge and talented play makers (Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg) and you have a recipe for success.

Kasey Keller, who at age 40 is even more ageless than Schelotto, is still one of the better keepers in MLS.

The Sounders could be pretty tough to drown out this year.

3. Real Salt Lake – The defending champions will try to ride an energetic midfield and a recently-capped national team keeper to another deep postseason run.

Nick Rimaldo stopped everything last season in RSL’s deep postseason, and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t have another fine season.

Kyle Beckerman, whose hair I deeply envy, anchors the midfield for this solid, if unspectacular, club.

4. FC Dallas – Any team that can score and stop folks from scoring has a chance, and that could be FC Dallas this season.

Kevin Hartman and Dario Sala will battle for the keeper duties, but both are capable net minders.

Of course, manager Schellas Hyndman can rely on Dax McCarthy, David Ferreira and Jeff Cunningham to spark the offense.

I like the Heath Pierce signing as well. It’s a risky pick to take them this high, but I’m feeling lucky today.

5. Houston Dynamo – It may take Dominic Kinnear’s best coaching job to get the Dynamo into the postseason.

With Ricardo Clark and Stuart Holden missing from the midfield, this is a team in search of an identity.

How it turns out will be interesting.

6. Colorado Rapids – There’s no way the Rapids can be as banged up as they were in 2009 again, can they?

Omar Cummings and Conor Casey provide a potent attack, and new additions like Larentowicz and Wells Thompson will help provide cover in case the injury bug starts biting again.

A healthy Colorado should compete for a spot in the postseason.

7. Chivas USA – Preki leaving town, for me, was the biggest change for this team.

Preki’s team were a little more rough and tumble than the new incarnation figures to be, but apart from Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan, the roster isn’t exactly brimming with proven talent.

Still, it could all work out.

But it’s a Missouri team. They have to “show me” first.

8. San Jose Earthquakes – After giving up a league-high 50 goals last season, San Jose needed to get its defense in order.

I’m not really sure that happened.

A return to good health and good form for Jason Hernandez would be a nice start, but, on paper, it doesn’t look like the Earthquakes have solved their problems defensively.

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29 Responses to 2010 MLS Season Preview

  1. Glenn says:

    Probably a pretty good preview. I’d place DC higher and FC Dallas lower, but in reality, who knows? That – as the old saying goes – is why they play the games.

    I do expect this to be a good year overall for MLS. The fact that they settled the CBA issue, and just as important – HOW they settled the CBA issue, is a good sign for the league. I hope the fans come out and support it.

  2. Charles says:

    Is there a more beautiful sight in all of sports than a game at QWest field ?
    Answer no, it is the greatest football stadium in the world (both gridiron and soccer ).

    Whoever took that picture, you better not be sitting there in 57 hours
    ( literally the guy must be sitting in my seat ).

    Thanks for the preview…..SEAAAAATTTLESOOOOUUUUUNDERS

    • SSReporters says:

      Qwest Field is not remotely close to being the best soccer stadium in the world. But it is a place where I want to see a World Cup match hosted if the US ever hosts it again.

  3. Kyle says:

    Just had to make a comment on the note about Toronto having, arguably, the best fan support in the league. Time for me to argue… that could have been true pre-2009, but Seattle has shown, without a doubt, that it has the best fan support bar none. Not only did they shatter attendance records last year, but they kept on shattering them, continuing to increase attendance throughout the season, including record showings for two friendly matches. Even with the threat of a strike this season (no longer real), several games have been sold out now, even after increasing even more on last year’s record capacity. Their franchise efforts are the blueprint being followed by all the expansion teams going forward, not to mention many established teams hoping to mirror even a fraction of their fan support.

    • Charles says:

      Several games sold out ? I think it is more than that now, either way, there is zero chance that they don’t sell out the season….most games have less than 500 tickets available. Not to mention I was told in Dec all the luxury boxes would be gone.
      Sounders drew larger than normal MLS attendance ( almost 19k ) for the preseason game.

      That being said, I think that Toronto could be selling around 30k if they were lucky enough to have QWest already built for them. When all the MLS teams were able to pack a house like Toronto this league would be one of the tops in the world very quickly.

  4. eplnfl says:

    Good preview. What may define this season is who joins the MLS after the World cup is over. Chicago for one is expected to look at players to join the team come July.

    I can’t wait for the season to start. Go Fire.

    • Charles says:

      Does it surprise you more teams don’t try to acquire a second DP ?
      Maybe it happens come July ?

      It does me, when I heard that NY acquired a second DP spot in a trade, I thought a team swimming in cash ( relatively ) would buy one from a team that needed money.

  5. Cameron says:

    I think the demand is at a point in Toronto that if they were to expand the stadium they could also increase attendence numbers significantly. I am a Sounders fan as well dont get me wrong, I have never missed a home game, but its quality over quantity. Toronto fans are passionate, loud, knowledgable, and they travel well.

  6. short passes says:

    On Paper the Fire’s off season defensive acquisitions look very strong, Krol and Martinez but the latest klinker is the waiver of Jon Busch. I can’t believe that de los Cobos waived a proven GK without a strong replacement in mind. I have to believe that the rumor of the acquisition of the Salvadoran GK Montes is more than a rumor.
    Goooooooo Fire !!!!!!

    • eplnfl says:

      I’m worried about Busch going. You have to think the Fire have someone else in mind. The new labor agreement has played a part in it also. I am “Fired Up”, but the team has to come team which may take a while.

      SP. will you be out at Toyota Park?

      • short passes says:

        eplnfl — I’m a passionate Fire fan from St. Louis. I will be at Toyota Park 3 or 4 times this year — bought the 20 ticket package. Long drive but well worth it!! The Fire has been the most consistently skillful and entertaining team in MLS since the beginning. (Sorry Charles –the Sounders are a close second even as short-timers LOL).
        No matter what happens with the St.Louis NASL I’m a committed Fire Fan.

        I am somewhat mystified that the quality of Fire play doesn’t get more visibility. Best passing team by miles.

      • ChicagoBlues says:

        I’ll see you at 71st and Harlem. Up the Fire!!

        • eplnfl says:

          I’m in for half a season ticket. May have to miss the opener for a family event. Like to meet you guys at one of the games. I live in the north suburban area and trying to get a watch group together for the away games near Libertyville or Mundelein. Seattle sounds great(no pun intended) on Tv, but it would take something to beat out a Fire game.

  7. Ivan says:

    I got to see 6 of these teams in pre-season games in Florida. Granted, it was pre-season, but it gives you some indication as to the strength of a team.
    New York Red Bulls: impressive; from Lindpere to Agudelo, to Ream, and Angel. Definitely in the playoffs this season.
    FC Dallas: not sure about them…not a bad side (McCarthy, Cunningham, Pearce, etc.); will fight for a playoff spot until the very end.
    Toronto FC: saw them got demolished by New York RB in the Disney tourney in Orlando; were God awful…based on what I saw, I don’t think they will make the playoffs…
    Philadelphia Union: new side, Moreno, Califf…all in all, don’t see them winning more than 5 games this season; dead last in the East.
    DC United…the Andy Najar kid was impressive; so was Moreno. Will probably make the playoffs, but I don’t think they will challenge for the MLS Cup.
    Houston Dynamo: solid as always, even w/out Holden and Clark. MLS Cup contender.

  8. Jammer says:

    The wizards have completely blown up the foreign portion of their squad, signing nine new foreign players. They are question marks at this point, but perhaps some of them will turn out to be answers.

  9. Jaime says:

    considering parity is the law of the land for mls, u wasted my time with this preview cuz all the teams are practically the same. but i will give my “worst team in mls” award. to New England Revolution

  10. Gazza says:

    Toronto FC will finish last in the league by far. And given this is an expansion year (2011) Mo Johnston will not even have the first overall pick. Which is too bad because drafting is the only thing Mo is good at.

  11. ELAC says:

    Yes! Yes!
    Please rate my goats as low as possible. Preki is a joke of coach and will soon be exposed as a fraud.
    Vasquez is a nice guy, I just hope we don’t finish last.

  12. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    bit delusional to suggest that TFC will be last in the league but i definitely appreciate that you think of them so highly. Cant say i have the same hope…

  13. Logan says:

    Parity may be the attempt, but there’s no way that all these MLS teams are created equal.

  14. sanjose says:

    San Jose could vastly improve over last season because they added some big wildcard/unknowns in Eduardo, Opara, and Gjertsen. Those three could potentially be huge contributors. Additionally, the loss of Huckerby won’t hurt much on their record from last season because Hucks missed most of last season anyways.

    A lot still comes down to Bobby Convey though. A lot is riding on him and if he has another poor season that will be hard to overcome. Given his age he should be in his prime but injuries have derailed his career and he was looking below replacement-level for most of last season until a short solid stretch at the end of the season.

  15. jason says:

    It is still sad to see how much DC United has fallen. In the 1990′s they had some great teams that could compete internationally with the Mexican and even South American clubs.

    I fear for their future. They need to get out of that dump that is RFK. I dont expect much out of them in 2010.

  16. barrabrava says:

    So excited for the season! DC United as 6th? Show some love for the club that has won 4 mls cups. Castillo should be exciting to watch this season, DC has a solid group of young players looking to gel with the help from the veterans Moreno and Perkins.
    Looking forward to the renewed rivalry that was DC vs. New York as the Red Bulls look like a team to watch out for.
    “Vamos vamos united, Esta noche tenemos que ganar”

  17. puma shoes says:

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