Category: MLS Season Preview

Kreis and Reyna have painstakingly put the inaugural NYCFC squad together.

PST predicts Major League Soccer’s 2015 standings; Do you agree?


MLS gets underway this Friday, and Pro Soccer Talk is ramping up its coverage of the United States’ top flight with a series of preview posts on the season.

Today, we enlisted six of our writers to boldly proclaim who will finish where come the Fall.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

There are some bold predictions from our staff, with every writer apart confident that Jason Kreis’ MLS expertise combining with City Football Group’s millions to land the first-year club in the postseason.

The fortunes for fellow expansion side Orlando are more varied, with only Duncan Day seeing Kaka and Co. in the playoffs.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Out West, things are little more predictable, excepting my lack of faith in Caleb Porter’s Timbers and Kyle Bonn pegging Real Salt Lake to finish second. I’d like to point out that it’s not anti-PDX bias that has me dropping the Timbers; I had them in sixth before last season and don’t feel they are much better off, especially with Diego Valeri coming off major surgery and missing some time.

So what do you think?

ProSoccerTalk’s 2015 MLS Prediction

JPW Nick Mendola Andy Edwards Kyle Bonn Kyle Lynch Duncan Day
1. New England 1. New England 1. Columbus 1. New England 1. Toronto 1. NYC
2. Toronto 2. Toronto 2. Toronto 2. Toronto 2. New England 2. Toronto
3. DC United 3. DC United 3. New England 3. DC United 3. NYC 3. New England
4. NYC 4. NYC 4. DC United 4. NYRB 4. Columbus 4. Columbus
5. NYRB 5. Columbus 5. Philadelphia 5. NYC 5. NYRB 5. Orlando City
6. Chicago 6. Chicago 6. NYC 6. Columbus 6. Chicago 6. DC United
7. Columbus 7. Philadelphia 7. NYRB 7. Montreal 7. Orlando City 7. NYRB
8. Montreal 8. NYRB 8. Montreal 8. Chicago 8. DC United 8. Chicago
9. Orlando City 9. Montreal 9. Orlando City 9. Orlando City 9. Philadelphia 9. Philadelphia
10. Philadelphia 10. Orlando City 10. Chicago 10. Philadelphia 10. Montreal 10. Montreal
1. LA Galaxy
1. Seattle
1. Seattle
1. Seattle
1. LA Galaxy 1. LA Galaxy
2. Seattle
2. LA Galaxy 2. LA Galaxy
2. RSL
2. Seattle 2. Seattle
3. KC
3. Vancouver
3. FC Dallas
3. KC
3. KC 3. KC
4. RSL
4. RSL
4. KC
4. LA Galaxy
4. Portland 4. Portland
5. Portland
5. KC
5. Portland
5. Vancouver
5. FC Dallas 5. RSL
6. Houston 6. FC Dallas 6. Vancouver 6. Portland 6. Houston 6. Vancouver
7. FC Dallas 7. Portland 7. RSL 7. Houston 7. Vancouver 7. Houston
8. Vancouver 8. Houston 8. San Jose 8. FC Dallas 8. RSL 8. FC Dallas
9. San Jose 9. Colorado 9. Houston 9. San Jose 9. San Jose 9. San Jose
10. Colorado 10. San Jose 10. Colorado 10. Colorado 10. Colorado 10. Colorado

Top 10 returning players in Major League Soccer for 2015

Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo

As we continue our build up to the 2015 Major League Soccer season, here’s a look at 10 players who could be the top returners this season. Ranking them from 10-1, here it goes…

10 — Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders

All the flips…

9 — Tony Tchani, Columbus Crewsource:

Probably has a future with the USMNT if he matches last season’s output.

8 – Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders

The hard-nosed agitator gets it done.

7 – Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls

Scored 28 goals last year. How much of a hit will he take with Sacha Kljestan in and Thierry Henry out.

6 – Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers

Possibly the most overlooked star in MLS.

5– Omar Gonzalez, LA Galaxy

Again, without the World Cup hiatus, his numbers will be otherworldly.

4– Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution

He earned those MVLee chants last year.

3 – Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

Head on up to BMO Field and watch the man work. In a non-World Cup season with help from a healthy Steven Caldwell, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, it’s game on.

2 – Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounderssource: AP

Some are going to tell you teammates Alonso and Martins deserve a shout here, but Dempsey gives you far better attack than the former and far better possession than the latter.

1 – Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

Until he gives a single sign that he’s lost a step, he’s the man… even before Stevie G hits Hollywood.

On the fringe: Gyasi Zardes (L.A.), Matt Hedges (Dallas), Diego Valeri (Portland), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose), Bill Hamid (DC), Kyle Beckerman (RSL), Graham Zusi (KC), Federico Higuain (Columbus), Jermaine Jones (NE), David Ousted (Vancouver), Chad Marshall (Seattle), Dom Dwyer (KC).

Making the case for the Eastern Conference as a better option

Joze Altidore
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On Wednesday morning, our own Andy Edwards will tell you a tale of Western Conference dominance. He could probably sleepwalk through the post (though he won’t because he’s got moxie).

That’s because the narrative for Major League Soccer fans — and especially media — over the past few years has been one of Western dominance, and now the conference is gaining two of the best franchises in league history: Sporting KC and the Houston Dynamo.

[ RELATED: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

But hold on a second. What fun is there in following the narrative? Sure the Sounders are the reigning Supporters Shield winners and the Galaxy won yet another MLS Cup, but there’s been a wild influx of new, powerful faces (and teams).

1) Toronto FC

The Reds boast two of the most important U.S. players in Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, two players who — for better or for worse — have returned to America from the biggest leagues in the world while still in their prime. And the playoff-free club added an active Italian international in crafty attacker Sebastian Giovinco. Frankly, this is a club which, if successful on the field, will earn and keep the eyes of even the hardiest of Eurosnobs.

2) Expansion of interest

The idea of two brand new MLS clubs being able to dart into the league and make the playoffs would seemingly make the opposite point: that the weak East can be in play just by virtue of money. Part of that is true: being able to afford Kaka and David Villa is a pretty big asset for Orlando and New York City, respectively.

But Orlando has built a fervent fan base and championship reputation in Florida, while New York City FC orchestrated an MLS contender with one of the league’s best composers in Jason Kreis. Both clubs did very well in free agency and the expansion draft, and both picked up assets in the SuperDraft. When I was a kid and the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers arrived in the NHL, those new shiny teams were cool. The thing about those teams, though, is they were lousy. Neither of these squads will be basement dwellers in the East.

[ BOOKMARK: MLS standings | stats | schedule ]

source: AP3) Resurgent Revs

New England boosted Jermaine Jones from Chicago and never looked back, taking the favored Los Angeles Galaxy to the brink in MLS Cup. Now the whole gang is back, and youngsters like Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez and Andrew Farrell are a year older and a year wiser. With a rearguard that includes Jose Goncalves in front of Bobby Shuttleworth (right), and Lee Nguyen working his MVLee magic, New England is fun nearly every week.

4) New York vs. New York

This ties into point No. 2, but NYCFC has walked into the Big Apple like it owns the place (Haven’t you heard? Mix “hates the Red Bull”. The new boys have all the momentum, while Red Bulls fans are wondering what the heck is going on after an offseason of upheaval. By the time the first New York Derby gets cooking at Red Bull Arena on May 10, will NYCFC have a bunch of casual New York fans ready for conversion?

There you go, Edwards. Your move.


2015 MLS season preview: Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids logo
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  • Won MLS Cup in 2010
  • Missed playoffs last season
  • Allowed an uncharacteristic 62 goals in 2014

[ RELATED: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

Key Player: Juan Ramirez

Forgive yourself if the name is unfamiliar; Colorado just signed the 21-year-old 11 days ago as the club’s second Designated Player in history. The flashy midfielder was compared to Vicente Sanchez by Rapids technical director Paul Bravo, and Colorado has to hope the former helps the latter become a more prolific scorer. Bravo and company talk about Ramirez as a long-term player, but the Rapids need him to be effective quickly if they hope to do anything in a tough Western Conference.

Other names to watch: Dillon Powers, Shane O’Neill, Marcelo Sarvas.

[ RELATED: MLS standings | stats | schedule ]

source: Getty Images
Sweaters for days.

Manager: Pablo Mastroeni

When Oscar Pareja left Colorado in the lurch left season, Mastroeni had mere months to make an omelet with another man’s ingredients. It wasn’t very good, with Colorado falling out of the playoff picture and struggling to find an identity. Enter a variety of players for 2015 who could really make a difference in a hurry should the club stay healthy. There’s Sarvas, who was part of a solid midfield in Los Angeles last season, as well as Michael Harrington (Portland) in the back and unheralded Sam Cronin (San Jose) in the middle of the park.

Mastroeni is being pegged as a potential “first to be fired” candidate this season, and that’s not a shot in the dark. But the respected on-field leader could also be a leader in bringing the Rapids into a surprising battle for a playoff spot.

Outlook for 2015

It could be a dark year in Commerce City, but don’t forget that this was a promising young team that floundered last year. Sarvas and Harrington will be in the locker room with Ramirez, O’Neill, Deshorn Brown and Powers, the latter of whom is an exceptional talent. Again, it’s a loaded conference, but Colorado will look to — and could — surprise many. Perhaps it’s more likely they are a year and a couple players away from playoff relevance. That doesn’t mean they won’t be fun to watch, and provide us with plenty of good moments.

2015 MLS season preview: Toronto FC

Toronto FC logo
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  • Have never made playoffs (8 seasons)
  • Finished 11W-15L-8T last season
  • Have never finished above .500

[ RELATED: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

Key Player: Michael Bradley

source: APThe only Designated Player remaining from last winter’s ‘Bloody Big Deal’ campaign that also saw Jermain Defoe and Gilberto arrive in Ontario, Bradley is the engine for the Reds. We saw a glimpse of what he could do late in the season, but the mid-season World Cup run and subsequent fallout seemed to hamper his play for much of 2014.

Regardless, there’s little question he will be a force in Toronto FC’s expected first playoff run, it’s just whether he’ll toss up a good campaign or a dominant, “M-V-P” chants at BMO Field season. With respect to new teammates Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, who are going to put up bonkers offensive performances, it’s the American with the captain’s armband who will need to keep changing the culture at Canada’s biggest club.

Other names to watch: Altidore, Giovinco, goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

[ RELATED: MLS standings | stats | schedule ]

Manager: Greg Vanney

When Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko unceremoniously ousted Ryan Nelsen with 10 games to go in the club’s failing 2014 campaign, it wasn’t unexpected. The hiring of Vanney, however, was a bit of a surprise. The 40-year-old had no experience in the MLS manager’s seat prior to taking the controls, and couldn’t save the season. TFC actually got worse after letting Nelsen go, going 2W-6L-2T in Vanney’s 10 games (They were 9W-10L-6T last season under Nelsen).

The expectations are even higher this time around. Altidore’s in his prime, Giovinco’s move to MLS is a bit of a head-scratcher in a “How did they convince him?” way, and ex-captain Steven Caldwell will provide experience and leadership as Bradley pulls on the armband. There is absolutely no reason TFC should miss the playoffs this time around. Then again, they shouldn’t have missed last year.

Outlook for 2015

First off, Toronto wants you to know this is going to be different. Even their commercials are willing to take a pop at Defoe:

And it should be different, aside from the passionate TFC fans who continue to fill the stadium. Consider that Defoe walked in, scored 12 goals and found himself 7th on the club’s all-time goals list. By the end of the season, it’s reasonable to think Bradley (currently with 2), Giovinco and Altidore will all be above him on the list.

There are a lot of good pieces around the stars as well. Jonathan Osorio and Justin Morrow are solid, Ashtone Morgan is five appearances away from supplanting Stefan Frei as the all-time club leader, and the club should find goals from Bright Dike and Luke Moore amongst others. TFC also has a good battle at center back, with Nick Hagglund dueling with Polish international Damien Perquis. If Bendik can play reasonably well between the sticks, TFC has the nucleus for a No. 1 seed.

So, yes, this should be the year. But nothing’s ever certain in Toronto.