In a league where more than half the teams make the playoffs, any season in which you don’t get there has to qualify as a disappointment. That said, it would be unfair to be too harsh on the 2018 Montreal Impact. The Impact made big changes headed into last year, including significant roster turnover and the appointment of Remi Garde as manager. A slow start wasn’t completely unexpected, though losing 11 of their first 15 games was probably a slower start than even the most pessimistic fans had envisioned. By June it was looking like the Remi Garde experiment might not be working out. The Impact were bottom of the table, hadn’t hadn’t scored a goal in four games, went a nine-match stretch where they lost eight games and were outscored 24-9, and were getting into fights in practice. Garde was calling players out individually in press conferences and it all just seemed to be falling apart.Read More
Last season was a year of ups and downs for the Dynamo; they won the US Open Cup but didn’t make the playoffs. They’ll be hoping that some key offseason additions get them back into the Western Conference race in 2019.Read More
The New England Revolution began a new era in 2018. Former coach and legendary Revs player Jay Heaps had pushed the team all the way to the MLS Cup Final in 2014, but the team hit a multi-year slide from then on, ending with his dismissal in 2017. Brad Friedel, former Premier League and USMNT goalkeeper, was hired to start fresh and instill a new culture in the club. Friedel’s squads were able to get lots of results early in the year, but New England had a miserable summer, netting two draws and six losses in July and August.
Friedel’s first season in charge brought plenty of off-field stories as well, and for much of the season, the players that weren’t playing generated as many headlines as those who did. But after a year of roster changes and an infusion of attackers, this is 100% Friedel’s team, and the Revolution will look to make a statement that their brand of soccer can make an impact in a league that’s become a bit more top heavy than just a few years ago.Read More
I have the unfortunate pleasure of being both a Minnesota United fan and a soccer analytics nerd. MNUFC was bad last year…and the year before that. Historically bad. Despite how genuinely entertaining their home games are to attend, my fanaticism ached for the Loons to cease their fruitless flapping. But every so often I hear the voice of reason telling me to come to my senses and wake to the comforting reality: “they could have been worse.”Read More
Perhaps the best novel by the late great author Philip Roth was American Pastoral. Roth introduced us to a character nicknamed “The Swede” who followed a legendary athletic career as a youth with equal success as an adult, and lived a life that anyone would admire. From this contented perch the reader then watches as idealism and bad luck bring his idyllic life to ruins. It’s an unforgettable story of how the American dream can swallow itself and quickly turn tragedy.
As I prepared to write this preview of Toronto FCs 2019 season this story kept resurfacing in my mind. Both are a riches to rags stories with no clear answers, and ones that grapples with the trade off of maintaining the status quo versus continuing to push. Not a year ago Toronto FC was on top of the soccer world in North America. They had just completed the greatest season in MLS history (yes, it still is) and were taking down Liga MX giants on their way to another height in winning the CONCACAF Champions League. They were achieving things like no MLS team before them. And then something happened….Read More
Folks, this is what a re-build looks like. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park might as well have had a “Pardon Our Dust” sign posted at the ticket office every home match, and the only good thing about the Colorado Rapids’ 2018 season is that it’s over. Still, 2018 was not wasted by the club, with players joining and leaving the roster all year. In many ways, this was the “game” that fans, including myself, have really been paying attention to. Head coach Anthony Hudson and GM Padraig Smith certainly had their work cut out for them a year ago, and it’s clear that this was always going to be a multi-year process, especially given the two bloated Designated Player contracts expiring at the end of 2019.
The Rapids are poised for an interesting 2019 season as the roadies for Tim Howard’s Magical Retirement Tour. They won’t (and shouldn’t!) be on anyone’s playoff prediction lists, but they’ll be a sleeper pick by a couple experts (pump Bobby Warshaw’s takes directly into my veins). Now that seven teams from each conference get a playoff game, Colorado should strive to be in the hunt all year, and given the crapshoot that is MLS, there’s no reason to say they can’t make it. But playoffs or not, Rapids fans would be truly pleased with some wins, some goals, and some talented young players to carry the team into a new decade.Read More
A successful 2019 season for the Chicago Fire will be predicated on making up for the miscues of their 2018 offseason.Read More
The 2018 season for FC Dallas feels like a lifetime ago, thanks in large part to massive changes the club undergone during the offseason. The face and heartbeat of the club, Oscar Pareja, left for a new challenge and after his departure the roster and coaching staff were overhauled in a matter of weeks. With the change comes a new wind of hope and optimism, especially when you hear the way newly minted head coach and former FCD Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez speaks so eloquently about his vision for Dallas in 2019, and how the newly formed North Texas Soccer Club will help bridge more FCD players from the Academy and the first team.Read More
It was the worst of times. 2018 is a year that Orlando City fans could forget if it didn’t make up 25% of the team’s MLS existence. No, the dull scab of mediocrity that Orlando had become finally broke sometime in April of last year and the rest of the league was there to season aggressively with rock salt. Jason Kreis was dismissed, and while that was indeed understandable, James O’Connor’s task of righting a sinking ship has now unfortunately shifted into excavating a wreck. In a league that has had no shortage of underachievers in its youth and adolescence, Orlando’s 2018 was a special kind of dark comedy. They stepped on every conceivable rake, went out, purchased several new rakes at great expense, and then stepped on all of those as well.Read More
There's something great about knockout tournaments, especially involving teams that are completely unfamiliar with each other. NCAA March Madness and the World Cup are perfect examples; seeing your favorite team play against a relative unknown like Murray St. or Ghana carries a little extra intrigue than your average game against a conference opponent. For MLS fans, CONCACAF Champions League embodies this opportunity.
Increasingly, CCL has been painted as an MLS vs. Liga MX referendum, one in which MLS teams steadily gain but never overtake Mexico's dominant position in the region. But lost in that narrative is that CCL includes teams from a handful of other countries, too. These MLS-Liga MX matchups will get the majority of publicity (starting with Sporting KC-Toluca in the first knockout round), but seven other MLS/Liga MX teams have to knock off Central American or Caribbean opponents before those glamour matchups are set in stone. If you think these first round matchups are just a formality, just ask an FC Dallas fan how their campaign went last year (spoiler alert: they lost to Panamanian side Tauro before they even got to face a Mexican team).Read More