For the second installment of our guide to what you can expect from Major League Soccer this season we look at two of the league’s oldest clubs and two relatively newer clubs.
New England Revolution
Manager: Jay Heaps
After finishing 7th in their conference and 14th in the league last year, the Revolution are going to have to make some changes in order to get back to the winning ways.
The team have been MLS Cup runners-up an astounding five times but their last appearance in the finals came in 2014 when they lost to the L.A. Galaxy. Now, with a roster that includes the likes of Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara, and Antonio Mlinar Delamea, coach Jay Heaps is keen to make the Revolution a serious contender.
As MLS continues to grow, the Revolution need to adapt to fresh and challenging competition. If they are not going to invest in stronger Designated Players or bring in quality players from rival MLS sides, like they did with Kamara, they must begin to invest in their youth – much like the New York Red Bulls have done. After all, the Revolution play in an area of the country that’s synonymous with winning. Even though they are on top in the other football, New Englanders deserve a good soccer team.
Manager: Curt Onalfo
Last season, the Galaxy had a bevy of stars from Europe like Steven Gerrard, Nigel de Jong, and of course, captain Robbie Keane. Even Landon Donovan returned for a brief stint. Now, as they have all left or retired, the Los Angeles team is looking to a future without their elder statesmen.
Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, and Gio dos Santos return to the squad for a new year in American soccer and as they lead the way for the club, manager Curt Onalfo will have to see how deep his roster can go for the full season.
The storied franchise lost their home opener to FC Dallas and a few players picked up injuries that led to line-up and roster changes. As they boast a squad of many homegrown players, perhaps this season will be one of transition. It could be an opportunity for young talent to shine brighter than more experienced players such as Jermaine Jones.
Manager: Jim Curtin
After reaching the MLS Cup playoffs and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup last year, manager Jim Curtain would have hoped for a better start to the current campaign. Currently sitting last in the Eastern Conference standings, another playoff run for the Union looks unlikely.
The Union will be hoping that vets Alejandro Bedoya, Maurice Edu, and Oguchi Onyewu along with young guns Aaron Jones, Marcus Epps, and Josh Yaro, salvage what already looks like a losing season.
Manager: Greg Vanney
Since the arrival of Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco in 2015, Toronto F.C. have never been the same – they have only gotten better. The “Atomic Ant” who was once referred to as “the Next Alessandro Del Piero” by the Italian press made an instant impact as soon as he arrived, breaking an MLS record for most goals and assists in a season. Last year he took them to the Eastern Conference Finals where they won but eventually lost the MLS Cup to Seattle Sounders on penalties. Giovinco has become integral to the team and the league. After sustaining an injury in the season opener, and with no expected timetable for his return, the rest of the team are going to have to step it up.
Led by Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, the team will need to push to build on last year’s success. Also, as rumors that Giovinco may go to China when his contract is up, the team needs to do all it can to convince him to stay and build the future of the organization around the Italian star. So far, Toronto have struggled without him.