A look at the MLS teams in advance of the 2017 season
A look at the Major League Soccer teams ahead of the 2017 season:
NEW YORK RED BULLS
Coach: Jesse Marsch
Last Season: 16-9-9, finished first in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: F Bradley Wright-Philips, MF Sacha Kljestan, MF Gonzalo Veron.
Lowdown: The Red Bulls got bounced from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference by Montreal after riding a 16-game unbeaten streak into the postseason. In the offseason, the team shocked many when they traded Dax McCarty to Chicago. But the roster still includes top goal scorer Wright-Phillips, who had 24 goals last season, and Kljestan, who led the league in assists with 20.
Coach: Patrick Vieira
Last season: 15-10-9, finished second in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: F David Villa, MF Maxi Moralez, F Rodney Wallace, GK Sean Johnson.
Lowdown: NYCFC got as far as the Eastern Conference semifinals, but fell to Toronto. In the offseason the team lost Frank Lampard and Andoni Iraola to retirement, but picked up a pair of key players in former Timbers player Wallace and designated player Moralez. Both should make an impact right away, along with Johnson in goal.
Coach: Greg Vanney
Last Season: 14-9-11, finished third in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: F Sebastian Giovinco, F Jozy Altidore, MF Michael Bradley.
Lowdown: Toronto came oh-so-close to the MLS Cup title last year, falling to the Sounders on penalty kicks in the MLS Cup final. The core of that team returns, including star Giovinco, who entertained an offseason move to the Chinese Super League but ultimately stayed in Toronto. The Reds allowed just 39 goals last season, fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Coach: Ben Olsen
Last Season: 11-10-13, finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Key players: GK Bill Hamid, D Steve Birnbaum, MF Luciano Acosta, D Bobby Boswell.
Lowdown: D.C. United look for a successful season to pave the way for next year’s opening of a new soccer-specific stadium at Buzzard’s Point. Last season the team finished strong, going 6-2-5 down the stretch, but they were eliminated in the knockout round of the playoffs by Montreal. United didn’t make a whole lot of changes in the offseason and the group’s strength remains its depth.
Coach: Mauro Biello
Last Season: 11-11-12, finished fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: F Matteo Mancosu, MF Patrice Bernier, D Chris Duvall.
Lowdown: The Impact lost to Canadian rival Toronto in the conference final, sending the Reds on to the MLS Cup final. The biggest change in the team is the absence of Didier Drogba, whose contract expired. Montreal will get a boost from the return of winger Andres Romero from an ACL injury, and the arrival of Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili this summer.
Coach: Jim Curtin
Last season: 11-14-9, finished sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: MF Alejandro Bedoya, MF Chris Pontius, D Keegan Rosenberry.
Lowdown: Hurt by a drop-off late last season, the Union fell in the knockout round to Toronto. Philadelphia is considered an up-and-coming team with a wealth of young talent, including recent U.S. national team call-up Rosenberry and GK Andre Blake. Philly also hopes to get Maurice Edu and Josh Yaro back soon from injuries.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Coach: Jay Heaps
Last Season: 11-14-9, finished seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: F Kei Kamara, F Juan Aguedelo, MF Kelyn Rowe.
Lowdown: The Revolution came close to making the playoffs last season but lost the final spot to Philadelphia on goal differential. New England should get a boost from midfielder Xavier Kouassi, sidelined all of last season with an ACL injury. Look for competition in goal between Cody Cropper and Brady Knighton.
Coach: Jason Kreis.
Last Season: 9-11-14, finished eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: MF Kaka, MF Will Johnson, D Jonathan Spector, F Cyle Larin.
Lowdown: Kreis took over in the midst of last season when the Lions dismissed Adrian Heath, but the team still finished outside of the playoffs for the second season. Orlando made a key move in bringing in Spector from Birmingham City, but Orlando will still have to try to replace the goal scoring of Kevin Molino, who went to Minnesota. A big story line for the team is a new downtown stadium.
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Last Season: 8-14-12, finished ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: MF Federico Higuain, F Ola Kamara, D Jonathan Mensah.
LOWDOWN: The Crew made it to the MLS Cup final in 2015 but then failed to make the playoffs last season. The departure of star Kei Kamara and injuries contributed to the disappointing finish. A healthy Higuain and the addition of Mensah should help. Look for competition in goal between Brad Stuver and Zach Steffen.
Coach: Veljko Paunovic.
Last Season: 7-17-10, finished 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Key Players: MF Dax McCarty, MF Juninho, F Nemanja Nikolic
Lowdown: The Fire finished with the worst record in MLS last season, finishing with just 31 points. They brought in veteran experience in Dax McCarty and Juninho. Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic from Legia Warsaw should bolster the team’s offense. The Fire will host the MLS All-Star game at Soldier Field this season, another boost for the franchise.
Coach: Gerardo “Tata” Martino
Last Season: Expansion team for 2017.
Key Players: MF Miguel Almiron, F Josef Martinez, F Hector Villalba, GK Brad Guzan.
Lowdown: Martino brings credentials as former coach of the Argentine national team, along with a one-year stint with Barcelona. United signed 10 MLS veterans to help acclimate the newcomers. Guzan won’t be joining Atlanta until this summer when he finishes the season with Middlesbrough of the English Premier League.
Coach: Oscar Pareja
Last Season: 17-8-9, finished first in the Western Conference.
Key Players: MF Javier Morales, F Cristian Colman, MF Mauro Diaz, MF Kellyn Acosta.
Lowdown: With a loss to the Seattle Sounders in the conference semifinals, Dallas fell short of the historic treble after securing the U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield trophies. The team was nearly unbeatable at home with just one loss. Dallas was hurt when Diaz injured his Achilles late in the season; he is expected to return sometime this summer.
Coach: Pablo Mastroeni
Last Season: 15-6-13, finished second in the Western Conference.
Key Players: GK Tim Howard, F Alan Gordon, MF Bismark Adjei-Boateng.
Lowdown: The Rapids completed a remarkable turnaround, going from the basement of the conference in 2015 to second place, then advancing to the conference finals against the eventual MLS Cup champion Sounders. Jermaine Jones went to the Galaxy, but Colorado brought in a promising youngster with the signing of Adjei-Boateng.
Coach: Curt Onalfo.
Last Season: 12-6-16, finished third in the Western Conference.
Key Players: F Giovani Dos Santos, MF Romain Alessandrini, MF Jermaine Jones, F Gyasi Zardes.
Lowdown: The biggest thing about the Galaxy is who left. Coach Bruce Arena took over the U.S. national team after Jurgen Klinsmann was dismissed. Also gone are Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Landon Donovan. For the moment, the five-time league champions seem to be getting away from the star-power model of the past — like Donovan and David Beckham before him — and have turned their focus to promising younger players.
Coach: Brian Schmetzer
Last Season: 14-14-6, finished fourth in the Western Conference.
Key Players: F Clint Dempsey, MF Nicolas Lodeiro, F Jordan Morris.
Lowdown: The Sounders were an amazing story last season, staging the league’s biggest turnaround ever after firing longtime coach Sigi Schmid to win the team’s first MLS Cup title. Dempsey is cleared to play after a heart ailment and the Sounders have plenty of talent, including U.S. national team players Jordan Morris and GK Stefan Frei. The Sounders are easily the early favorites in the West.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Coach: Peter Vermes.
Last season: 13-13-8, finished fifth in the Western Conference.
Key Players: F Dom Dwyer, F Graham Zusi, MF Benny Feilhaber, GK Tim Melia.
Lowdown: Sporting lost to Seattle in the knockout round last season, marking the third straight season the team has been eliminated in the first round. Veteran left wing Brad Davis retired after 14 years in MLS. Kansas City looks to be strong offensively, with Dwyer joined by Zusi and designated player Gerso Fernandes on the wings.
REAL SALT LAKE
Coach: Jeff Cassar
Last Season: 12-12-10, finished sixth in the Western Conference.
Key Players: MF Kyle Beckerman, GK Nick Rimando, MF Albert Rusnak, F Joao Plata.
Lowdown: Real Salt Lake faded last season before falling to the LA Galaxy in the knockout round. In the offseason, the team let go of Javier Morales, who had been with the team for a decade. The addition of 22-year-old Rusnak as designated player indicates a more youthful direction. RSL also brought in 19-year-old prospect Brooks Lennon on loan from Liverpool.
Coach: Caleb Porter
Last Season: 12-14-8, finished seventh in the Western Conference.
Key Players: MF Darlington Nagbe, MF Diego Valeri, MF Diego Chara, MF Sebastian Blanco.
Lowdown: The Timbers were the MLS Cup winners in 2015, but failed to make the playoffs last year. Porter said in the preseason that the team has shored up its starting-caliber depth so that injuries don’t impact Portland like last season. Early indications are that the addition of Blanco and David Guzman have given the Timbers a spark. The MLS season opens in Portland with a match against the Minnesota United.
Coach: Carl Robinson
Last Season: 10-15-9, finished eighth in Western Conference.
Key Players: F Fredy Montero, GK David Ousted, MF Matias Laba.
Lowdown: Cascadia Cup title aside, the Whitecaps had a disappointing season after making the playoffs the previous two years. Vancouver won just three of its last 17 games. But they made a splash with the recent signing of Montero, formerly of the rival Seattle Sounders, who has spent the past few seasons playing abroad.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES:
Coach: Dominic Kinnear
Last Season: 8-12-14, finished ninth in the Western Conference.
Key Players: F Chris Wondolowski, GK David Bingham, D Harold Cummings.
Lowdown: After coming close to making the postseason in 2015, the Quakes fell to near the bottom of the conference last season, extending a playoff drought to four straight seasons. The team struggled on the road, winning just one game away from San Jose. As a result, new general manager Jesse Fioranelli cleaned house, letting many of the veterans go.
Coach: Wilmer Cabrera
Last Season: 7-14-13, finished 10th in the Western Conference.
Key Players: D A.J. DeLaGarza, F Alberth Elis, F Romell Quioto, F Erick “Cubo” Torres.
Lowdown: The Dynamo parted ways with coach Owen Coyle in the midst of last season, and this season brought in Cabrera from the USL’s Rio Grande Valley in hopes of bringing the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Torres was already off to a fast start in the preseason and Houston’s success depends on the chemistry he’ll have with Elis and Quioto.
Coach: Adrian Heath
Last Season: Expansion team for 2017.
Key Players: MF Kevin Molino, F Christian Ramirez, F Josh Gatt.
Lowdown: Minnesota did not sign any designated players, taking a slow and steady approach to growing a roster. The United was also mindful of brining in talent from the team’s NASL side, including forward Christian Ramirez, who had 18 goals last season. The team will play the season at the TCF Bank Stadium on Minnesota’s campus before moving into a new stadium in St. Paul.