The 2012 MLS Season Preview Preview

Did you feel that?  That little shiver down your spine as you clicked on this story to read it.  Was it too much caffeine this morning?  Or was it the sense that the beginning of spring and the MLS season are just around the corner.  That’s right, we are less than a month away from First Kick 2012, as well as:

  • The “new look” LA Galaxy defending their title
  • Montreal Impact making their MLS debut
  • Numerous new players taking the pitch for the first time
  • New head coaches for Colorado, New England, and Vancouver
As we did last year, MLS Talk will go team by team over the next 20+ days to offer insight, analysis, and predictions for each team heading into the new season.  This is in addition to the usual insightful thoughts from the Chris and Chris of U.S. soccer on the MLS Talk podcast.  That’s right, we are offering double the amount of preseason coverage.  After we examine each team (in alphabetical order) as well as a few of the major plots that will dominate the season, we will close with our preseason predictions including standings, MLS Cup and Supporters Shield winners, and individual award predictions.
Have anything you want to see or hear in our preseason posts?  Have any predictions of your own?  Leave them in the comments section.  Tomorrow, our first team is the Chicago Fire.

38 thoughts on “The 2012 MLS Season Preview Preview”

  1. If the Montreal Impact can recruit a good European player on
    offense, (Joey Saputo is in Europe right now) they have a shot in
    the playoffs because they are really solid in goal. 2012 will be an
    outstanding year for the MLS for their coverage on NBC.

  2. Supporters Shield is dead. MLS should “award” two supporters
    shields this year. One, it would get rid of the unfairness of the
    award, which would be a joke if awarded this year. Two, it would
    make playoffs mandatory.

    1. Get over this ‘Supporters Shield is dead’ nonsense. This is going
      to be the 34th season of first division soccer in the US and
      Canada, and a balanced schedule has been the exception, not the
      norm. It’s for the best record in all the league, period. There
      should only be two Shields once the conferences are big enough to
      be their own leagues and East/West matchups only happen in the Open

      1. I agree with you the Supporters Shield was never
        alive……………….but I am guessing that was not what you
        were arguing for in saying it has never been a balanced schedule
        ?……and jjerg, we don’t all love Euro soccer. I think it is the
        biggest joke in sports.

    2. I agree that a balanced schedule is very important. How else can a
      team be judged if they don’t play the same teams? TV, marketing,
      and outside interests have ruined the other American sports, (how
      often does the best team win the playoffs in any sport?) it makes
      me sick that soccer is leaning towards this. We all love European
      soccer and dream one đay MLS may be as great as the EPL or La Liga.
      Well it will never get there if they continue to manage it like the

        1. Yes let’s copy a league where everyone and their mum is neck deep
          in debt and not the league that is the most profitable sports
          league on the planet.

          1. I don’t care the owners’ profits as much as the entertainment
            value; I find the English League much more entertaining. Also, I
            resent that the NFL, a profitable business, is government
            subsidized (stadiums).

          2. Tim, so you want American Cities with the the debt load rather some
            silly sports team? Where are you priorities? NFL holds cities
            hostage and constantly threaten cities to fork over tax revenue to
            build new stadiums that can support a Superbowl or risk losing a
            the team.

  3. Has anyone ever sufficiently explained why MLS stuck to a 34-game
    schedule and didn’t increase their schedule to 36 games? I
    recognize that balanced schedule would be impossible if and when
    MLS expands beyond 20 teams or so, but at 19 there is really no
    reason why we can’t play a full balanced schedule. It just seems to
    me that, while we’re at 20 teams or less, more games just equals
    more revenue.

    1. Once we get to 20 teams each team should play each other twice
      that’s it. Also the USSF needs to get some better marketing deals
      so teams besides Seattle actually try in the competition.

    2. I think the static 34 game schedule, more specifically the desire for intense local rivalries, is a red herring for another problem that is relatively specific to our league: travel costs. A 38 match schedule would be two more flights per team. I think the ultimate goal is to experience some cost savings by getting rid of a few long-distance flights. I believe the whole “rivalry” thing playing local teams more often is a secondary issue, a serendipitous result of the other issue. We will have a couple of general league topics in this series, and the move to the unbalanced schedule may be a good one to examine.

      1. Then we should have two 12 – 14 team leagues east and west that
        have no cross overs except in US Open Cup, CCL, and MLS Cup Final.

        1. Why does it always have to be one extreme of the other? I hate the
          idea of two leagues because the Rapids are in the middle; and they
          will end up never playing some nearby rival (like Kansas City). I
          prefer one table, but am OK with two, by why not just have teams
          play a 3 or 4 nearby teams 3 times, and a few others distant ones
          once. This would still allow LA to play the RedBulls twice; and
          Vancouver to play the other Canadian teams twice (and Dallas to
          play Houston at least twice, even if they are in different
          divisions). ______________ And I hate keeping the play-offs within
          divisions. If we play Dallas three times and Philly only once, I
          don’t want to then be locked into playing Dallas again in the
          play-offs. I understand the need to reduce travel during the
          season, but lets let the play-offs play out naturally, and spend a
          little more on travel if need be. Have the division winners be
          seeds 1 and 2, and then just stuck everyone else according to
          record. Sure, the unbalanced schedule might mean the 8th is not
          better than 9th, but it will still have the teams more or less
          right. Plus, with one bracket, we are finally keep the top 3 teams
          or so apart; unlike last year. _______________ And no Charles, the
          SS should live. Why not reward a team’s season long excellence?

          1. It would depend on what teams got added. If teams got added in NYC,
            Atlanta, Florida, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Oklahoma, Phoenix. Have
            the East be made up of NYC, NYRB, NE, DC, Philly, Charlotte,
            Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta, Detroit , Chicago, Minneapolis,
            Florida, and Columbus. The West made up of LA, Chivas, Seattle,
            Portland, Vancouver, Salt Lake, Colorado, KC, Dallas, Houston,
            Phoenix, Oklahoma, San Jose, and San Diego.

          2. CTBlues- You’ll never win with this, now you have KC never playing
            their nearest rivals, Chicago and Minnesota. If you had St. Louis
            in one of those scenarios it gets even worse. Plus, Vancouver still
            never plays Toronto and Montreal. Baseball realized this years ago-
            having a set up that has certain teams never playing each other is
            a mistake. I’d be disappointed if I was a supporter of one of the
            teams that doesn’t get a home game against LA this year, but at
            least I’d know that my team will get one the next year. As I said,
            I’m persuaded that some regional scheduling is worthwhile in order
            to reduce travel; but every team should play each other at least
            once, play-offs should go to one bracket, and divisions shouldn’t
            determine everything.

          3. I don’t like what the MLB did with interleague play. I liked it
            when they first implemented it with local rivals playing each other
            one series a year. It made it special, but now they have ruined it
            by making it basically the NFL. Also the Canadian teams get to play
            each other every year to see who will represent Canada in the CCL.

          4. Interleague play is better because otherwise a fan could go to
            Colorado Rockies games for years and never see the Yankees play, or
            some player they like – Ichiro, for instance. Now that the umpires
            and infrustructure are all the same, I don’t know why they don’t
            get rid of the leagues and just have 6 divisions. Then the Red Sox
            and Yankees could meet in the World Series- why not, if they the
            best 2 teams? It is weird that St. Louis plays Chicago 18 times,
            but only plays Kansas City 3 times. I get baseball history- they
            started with two separate leagues- but, why should soccer hang
            itself with historical peculiarities that it doesn’t have?

          5. Tom, I imagine you’re the kind of fan who thinks New York Red Bulls
            is a really cool name or thought that shootouts in the early days
            of MLS were really great because ties were boring. Certain things
            appeal to sportsfans because they are traditional. Doesn’t mean we
            should keep every tradition but we should be careful about the ones
            that we throw out. When you throw out too many, you fundamentally
            dilute your product. Balanced schedule makes rivalries special and
            gives every player on every squad national exposure (minus the
            Southeast, of course). While I will be the first to call the new
            playoff format a huge improvement, this is a terrible development
            on the regular season schedule front. Again, I’ll say that more
            games ought to, in theory, lead to more revenue. If more games
            would not lead to more revenue, MLS has some deeper problems that
            we need to be talking about.

          6. BamaMan- You have misunderstood me. I’d rather have a balanced
            schedule and one table (with 1-8 seeds in play-offs), but I’ve come
            to accept that the league wants/needs the cost saving of a regional
            schedule. I’m OK with that, but I’m against scenerios where you
            don’t see a team in your stadium at least every other year. And I
            don’t see why we have to play every team in our division 3 times
            (and, subsequently, every team in the other division once). I don’t
            want to copy what I think are mistakes in other other North
            American sports, among which is play-off formats that prevent two
            particular teams from meeting each other in a final. And, by the
            way, I’m fine with ties, I even think college football should bring
            back the tie during the regular season.

          7. Throwing my 2 cents 2 12 team leagues 22 in league (home and away)
            6 home other league 6 away other league Other league games
            alternate each year 34 games

          8. @Tim I think that is basically what is going to end up happening if
            we go past 20 teams, but then the league is going to want to see LA
            and NY play each other twice a year.

          9. @Charles That is the big question though is fifa going to let us
            have more than 20 first division franchises? MLS would be the only
            first division league in the world with more than 20 teams.

          10. I hear ya, but MLS would also be the only first division
            representing $310 million people. There are WAY more first division
            teams per $300 million. IF FIFA says no, and I doubt they would.
            Screw them.

          11. Charles- An eastern team winning the Supporters Shield would not be
            a joke, it would just be something we’d all argue about. Perfect.
            It is not like even a balanced schedule is a perfect measure, luck
            is always a factor. I think there were teams that played De Rosario
            5 times last season, there are other teams that didn’t play him at

          1. Is that the max distance ? 1,500 ? That is nothing. That is
            actually close, Seattle to Denver-ish Sea to NY 2853 Sea to Col
            2419 Sea to Philly 2822 Even KC is 1889 Vancouver and Portland all
            have similar and everyone has to visit them.

          2. To be fair, transportation infrastructure in Russia is so terrible
            for both ground and air travel that that distance probably is a lot
            more difficult to travel than a flight in the US.

          3. Potentially you can have teams that our further apart (pro/rel).
            Russia, coast to coast, is greater than the US (excluding Alaska).

      2. Is the MLS that cheap/poor? Seriously? MLB, NHL, and NBA all make
        dozens of cross-country trips per year. It’s hard for me to believe
        it would be that hard to pull off a balanced schedule financially.
        If they are that concerned with cutting costs, it makes me
        seriously question the financial future of the league.

        1. The MLS is very low cost. Tickets are cheap, players fly
          commercial, sponsorships are growing, but still not high. I think
          the cost savings matter, plus the attendances are higher against
          nearby opponents, and the physical toll on the players is less.
          Hence, and I’m not saying I like it, regional scheduling will be
          around for awhile.

        2. I might add the NHL, NBA, and MLB all have regional scheduling, in
          part, to save costs; although baseball’s schedule is determined by
          culture as much as costs (historical league is as a big a factor as

        3. Bam, All those leagues do MORE regional scheduling than MLS and all
          those leagues have MORE money than MLS. Regional scheduling is here
          to stay, it is just the details to be worked out.

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