2017 MLS preview
Toronto FC; 66 points
Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the better team got the short end of the stick in MLS Cup last December. TFC will be motivated like you wouldn’t believe to get that bad taste out of their mouths this year. There were no big additions, but no big losses either and the key players of Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley are all back in the fold. So come the fall, watch out for TFC.
Philadelphia Union; 59 points
What we saw from the Union last season was the beginning of a very good team that had a difficult end. Andre Blake has shown to be a phenomenal goalkeeper that will continue to get better and Chris Pontius should equal or better his goal total of 12 last year. With the addition of US vet Oguchi Onyewu and continued development of Keegan Rosenberry, the Union should be amongst the East contenders.
Montreal Impact; 57 points
Even without Didier Drogba, the Impact have the right pieces to run the table and go all the way. Many of their stalwarts from their East Finals run from last year return and if they can get on a roll during the season, they should be a tough out once the playoffs roll around. We will have to wait and see if essentially keeping the team virtually intact was a mistake or not.
New York Red Bulls; 53 points
In the offseason, the Red Bulls traded Dax McCarty to Chicago which opened the way for Dean Davis and Tyler Adams to step up and make their mark on the team. The Bulls still have Bradley Wright-Phillips and Aurilien Collin, so they should be in for another solid year. They will have to get off to a better start than they did last year if they want to go further in the playoffs. Another slow start will not cut it.
New England Revolution; 50 points
After missing out on a playoff spot thanks to a -10 goal difference, the Revs retooled their roster to improve their defense. The signing of Slovenian stud Antonio Mlinar Delamea is a good start and they have Kei Kamara for a full season. If the Revs can stay healthy, a postseason run is in the cards. New England has been to the altar many times, but the bouquet might have to wait another year.
New York City FC; 49 points
With several key departures, it’s unfair to expect the stars of Andrea Pirlo and David Villa to lead NYCFC a long way by themselves. So enter midfielder Maxi Morales, the team’s 29-year-old Argentinian DP and that will help tremendously. Still, New York might have a tough time reaching the same heights they did last year with Frank Lampard gone.
DC United; 48 points
DC is close, but not quite there to contending again. Ian Harkes returns and the team has Patrick Mullins, Lloyd Sam and Luciano Acosta in the fold to provide nice depth and scoring balance. The key question for United is if they can continue the surge they had at the tail end of last year into the playoffs. It’s tough to see that happening.
Columbus Crew SC; 42 points
The Crew practically played Ariana Grande’s “Problem” over the stadium loudspeakers to Kei Kamara on his way out last year. Once he left, the team struggled terribly and showed no signs over the offseason of any serious attempts to rectify it. The addition of Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah isn’t going to get the Crew back into contention as there is too much punch above them.
Chicago Fire; 40 points
There is light at the end of the tunnel after a pair of terrible seasons. They are still a long way from ascending the mountain, but the additions of veterans Juninho, Nimanja Nicolic and Dax McCarty is a good start and should lay the groundwork for future domination as there will be help coming up the pipeline.
Orlando City SC; 39 points
With a brand new stadium to play in, the Lions have plenty of work to do if they want to reach the playoffs for the first time. A full year under Jason Kreis will see Jonathan Spector and Will Johnson join the fold. Beyond that, it’s going to take a clean slate of health an entire season for Kaka and others to keep Orlando in the playoff hunt and that just won’t be enough.
Atlanta United FC; 37 points
It is important for the fanbase of this team to be patient and let their team develop into a consistent winner. As of the expansion draft, the only notable name United have is Michael Parkhurst and with time and smart drafting, they will add to the team and get better. By the time, Atlanta hosts Super Bowl LIII, the club might be a playoff contender.
FC Dallas; 67 points
This team caught a bad break at the end of last year when Mauro Diaz went down with an ACL injury. Without him, FC Dallas didn’t have much chance for postseason advancement. With much of the key cast returning including Matt Hedges, Kellyn Acosta and Michael Barrios, FCD is going to dare other teams to stop them from lifting MLS Cup
Seattle Sounders FC; 60 points
In this space last year, we were wondering if the Sounders would ever win MLS Cup. Apparently, all it took was a midseason slump and coaching change to spur on an improbable run to grab that missing piece of hardware. This year, the Sounders look stronger than ever with Harry Ship and Will Bruin joining a stacked side and the Pacific Northwest has a legitimate case for a repeat champion.
LA Galaxy; 59 points
On the surface, it may look bad to see Robbie Keane, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Steven Gerrard and coach Bruce Arena gone from the Galaxy. But if you dig deeper, it may actually benefit the team as they were able to bring in Jermaine Jones and Romain Allessandrini to lead them. Veteran coach Curt Onalfo has plenty of weapons at his disposal and his utilization of them will lead to a good year for the Galaxy.
Sporting Kansas City; 51 points
SKC still has much of their core on the team, which includes Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi without much meaningful tinkering. More times than not, that is a detriment to a club. Sporting is a definite playoff team, but it is tough to see them getting any production to go very far.
Colorado Rapids; 48 points
After a magical season, the Rapids are due for a letdown. Jermaine Jones was essentially allowed to walk to LA and the team’s offense was only really added to by Alan Gordon. That’s not going to cut it and while there is still a fantastic defense, the scoring needs to step up if there is to be an MLS Cup coming to Commerce City.
Portland Timbers; 46 points
Clearly, there was a hangover for the Timbers the year after winning their first MLS crown. Their offensive threats of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara are on the squad, but there needs to be a good defense to supplement them and the Timbers don’t have it following the retirement of Nat Borchers. The scoring power should lead to playoffs, but that’s all.
Real Salt Lake; 43 points
Jeff Cassar has his hands full with a bunch of key departures from the club, the most significant being Javier Morales. Several new and younger players come into the team and while we don’t know what these guys will bring to RSL, it’s tough to be optimistic about any progress, especially given how the club finished the regular season last year.
San Jose Earthquakes; 41 points
A full revival to MLS prominence was only five seasons ago for the Quakes and you’d be hard pressed to see another one coming. Danny Hoesen and Marco Ureña were brought in to compliment Chris Wondolowski as he attempts to bring the Earthquakes back to respectability. If the team wants to get back to the playoffs, they will have to be better on the road as they only won once all season away from Avaya Stadium.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC; 39 points
Are the Whitecaps going to complete a three-year Pacific Northwest sweep of MLS Cup champions after Seattle and Portland the last two years? The answer to this question is an unequivocal “NO SIR.” Their defense, which was best in the league two years ago, is not capable of leading them and Freddy Montero doesn’t have much help on the offensive side of the pitch to make a difference.
Houston Dynamo; 35 points
The coaching carrousel that has spun in Houston can’t be good for the Dynamo’s development of a long-term plan back to the MLS summit. What can Orange fans expect from Wilmer Cabrera who was a distinguished coaching career in MLS and Colombia? It will take more than just Cubo Torres for the team to trend up the standings.
Minnesota United FC; 31 points
Just like their expansion counterparts with the same name, Minnesota United and their fans are going to have to be patient. The Loons are going to be in for a rough first season and the players they have coming up from their lower division squad are going to have a long year. Fans in the Twin Cities have to hope Adrian Heath has a solid foundation for the Loons to soar in the future going into their new stadium next year.