2018 MLS Eastern Conference preview

 

8. DC United

What’s To Like: DC, to their credit, have assembled a lot of talent in a pretty short amount of time. The big move was to get Yamil Asad last week, but dating back to last summer, there are plenty of players here who would play big minutes for most every MLS team. That wasn’t the case last year.

There’s bonafide depth in midfield, where a Paul Arriola-Lucho Acosta-Asad line could relegate Zoltan Steiber to the bench. They’re four-deep in central midfield as well, where Ulysses Segura and Junior Moreno will compete with Ian Harkes and Russell Canouse.

David Ousted is a worthy replacement for Bill Hamid in goal.

What’s Not To Like: The decision not to get a proven goalscorer is baffling. DC is heading into the season with Patrick Mullins and Darren Mattocks as their forwards, two players who have never scored double-digit goals in eleven combined seasons.

Mullins is useful – and Mattocks can be too, especially off the bench late in games – but this team is going to need a ton of goals from its midfield.

The defense is a question mark too. I’m not sold on Frederic Brilliant as an everyday starter at center back or Nick DeLeon at right back. This team still needs to go get a DP or two in the summer. The hope is that the huge road-trip to start the year hasn’t taken the team out of contention by then.

Watchability: Olsen’s teams have never played pretty soccer, but for longtime fans of MLS, it’s going to be immensely cool to watch DC open Audi Field in July. The stadium, and the fans that will come with it, will completely change the experience of following the club.

Dave Johnson is a stalwart on the mic. If anyone deserves to work in the new building, it’s him.

Projection: Between “not moribund” and “not one of the East’s best teams,” it’s hard to say. The effect of playing 12 of 14 on the road to open the season will either put DC in a big hole, or set them up perfectly to return to the playoffs.

 

9. Philadelphia Union

What’s To Like: The Union haven’t had very many good teams in recent years, but they’re always fairly competitive. That’s why Jim Curtin (one playoff game since taking over in 2014) still has his job.

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