2019 Season Previews

Every One of Our 2019 MLS Team Season Previews by Drew Olsen

By Drew Olsen (@drewjolsen)

The season is about to begin! After almost three weeks of releasing previews, we’re finally done. If you missed any or just want to make sure you’re ready for the season, here’s every one of them.

Special thanks to Ryan Anderson (@mlsfantasystats) for creating the graphics that appear at the top of every preview.

Eastern Conference
Atlanta United by Tiotal Football
Chicago Fire by Kevin Minkus
FC Cincinnati by Eliot McKinley
Columbus Crew by Eliot McKinley
D.C. United by ExiledMLS
Montreal Impact by Eric Walcott
New England Revolution by Ben Bellman and Drew Olsen
New York City FC by DummyRun
New York Red Bulls by Harrison Crow
Orlando City SC by Ian Lamberson
Philadelphia Union by Jared Young
Toronto FC by Jared Young

Western Conference
Colorado Rapids by Benjamin Bellman
FC Dallas by Jason Poon
Houston Dynamo by Harrison Crow
L.A. Galaxy by Harrison Crow
Los Angeles FC by Eric Walcott
Minnesota United by Ryan Anderson
Portland Timbers by Drew Olsen
Real Salt Lake by Kevin Minkus
San Jose Earthquakes by Jamon Moore
Seattle Sounders by Ian Lamberson
Sporting Kansas City by Harrison Crow
Vancouver Whitecaps by Cheuk Hei Ho

Sporting KC 2019 Season Preview by Harrison Crow

In the Sporting Kansas City playoff preview last year I wrote that for SKC in 2018, the bottom didn’t fall out. That doesn’t sound particularly noteworthy, but it has been an ongoing theme through the years with Peter Vermes’ teams. His up tempo and high press style has often faced scrutiny due lack of rotation. It’s led some to question whether Vermes’ tactical approach is viable for 34 to 40 games per season.

But their late season volatility isn’t all that surprising when you consider how a lack of depth during an MLS season can cause issues. It’s even less surprising that SKC would have encountered it considering their organizational constraints over the years.

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New York City FC 2019 Season Preview by Dummy Run

Here's the weird thing about New York City Football Club in the Year of Our Lord 2019: after all the autumnal sturm und drang, the late-season slide, the second-round playoff bounce, and Domènec Torrent's desastre of a postseason presser, the club had a whole offseason to clean house and bring in Torrent's team and they just kind of ... didn't. What you'll see on opening day is more or less the same lineup you know and love (or used to love last summer but now hate with a burning passion because they lost some soccer games). Even my boy Ben Sweat's still out there, which can be a beautiful thing as long as a foul pole’s obstructing your view of the defensive third.

So, uh, what gives? Allow me to resubmit to you the possibility that Dome’s team was maybe actually not that bad at soccer last season. That in fact their +0.55 expected goal differential per game was the second best in MLS during Torrent’s tenure, a marked improvement from under Patrick Vieira. And that their best run of games came without David Villa or Yangel Herrera, this offseason’s two major departures. Maybe Claudio Reyna wasn’t crazy to think all this team needed was a few new pieces for things to fall into place.

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Seattle Sounders 2019 Season Preview by Ian L.

I suppose that by Seattle’s lofty standards you could consider last season to be a bit of a disappointment. For the first time in three years, they weren’t contesting the MLS Cup final, having been knocked from the competition in heartbreaking fashion by Portland on penalties after 120 minutes of what can very reasonably be called the most exciting playoff match in team history. So how do you bounce back? Is there actually anything to bounce back from? Why don’t teams have long-sleeved jersey options all of a sudden? What’s actually going on with Adidas anyway? If the Seattle Sounders were a character in Game of Thrones which one would they be? We shall endeavor to answer some of these questions within.

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FC Cincinnati 2019 Season Preview by Eliot McKinley

To Minnesota, or to Atlanta, that is now the question for an MLS expansion team. The 2017 MLS expansion teams took divergent paths to roster building. Atlanta supplemented their young expensive South American signings with older proven MLS veterans. Minnesota relied on a corps of players brought up from their NASL squad and a more journeyman group of MLS players, sprinkled with some lower profile international imports and no Designated Players. FC Cincinnati has answered the question with an emphatic “Minnesota.”

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Los Angeles FC 2019 Season Preview by Eric Walcott

Los Angeles Football Club was, according to points total, the best expansion side in the history of Major League Soccer. They’re hoping to improve on that in 2019.

2018 in Review

LAFC’s 57 points surpassed the 56 earned by the 1998 Chicago Fire and the 55 by 2017 newcomers Atlanta United. They scored the second most goals all-time of an expansion side, with 68. By all accounts, it was a very good debut season.  

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DC United 2019 Season Preview by ExiledMLS

The opening of Audi Field and the addition of Wayne Rooney at the halfway point of the 2018 season propelled DC United into an unlikely playoff appearance after a 11-2-4 run in the second half of the season. With a balanced schedule, a brand new home stadium, and an even more talented squad, the black-and-red have set their eyes on the possibility of winning silverware in 2019.

2018 In Review

In last year’s 2018 season preview for DC United, we generally predicted that it could be a season of two halves, and it was! (It feels good to be right once in a while, doesn’t it?) Up until the grand opening of Audi Field in July, the black-and-red played 13 away games and just 4 home games in the first half of the season. Two of these four home games were at alternate venues in the DMV area. Not surprisingly, DC had a 3-9-5 record and just 14 points at the half-way point of the 2018 season.

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Atlanta United 2019 Season Preview by Tiotal Football

Join me for a moment in a Lovecraftian horror in which time is an illusion and the events of life as we know it, or the meaningful events at least, (soccer matches) progress not sequentially by the steady consumption of the present as measured in minutes and seconds but by the experience of passes being attempted from open play. In this nightmare, as the fates dictate the average MLS team experiences 900 such passes attempted during a match (the total of both teams over 90+ minutes), and using passes experienced as the unit of account, the average 2018 MLS team spent 46% of its matches with a level score line (27% leading and 27% trailing).

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San Jose Earthquakes 2019 Season Preview by Jamon Moore

2018 In Review

 The “wooden spoon” award has its roots in the University of Cambridge. It would be awarded to the student who had the lowest marks but still earned a third-class degree. There are also three degrees in MLS: Those who win silverware, those who make the playoffs, and those who do not make the playoffs. Given MLS does not have relegation, obtaining (I almost said “winning” there) the Wooden Spoon just means one still gets to play the next year at the same level. In 2017, the Independent Supporters Council, who instituted the Wooden Spoon award in 2015, renamed it the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon.

This is not the trophy San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli had in mind at the beginning of 2018. He attempted big splashes, signing Allsvenskan Golden Boot winner Magnus Eriksson as a designated player, a fellow Swede to go along with a “real” manager Mikael Stahre (replacing not-interim/interim first-time coach Chris Leitch), also from the Allsvenskan. In keeping the attacking core from 2017 who helped the team snatch the final playoff spot despite a -21 goal differential, plus adding Eriksson, finally getting Panamanian international Harold Cummings healthy, and adding two more young defenders, Fioranelli bet that would be enough to catapult San Jose higher in the Western Conference. It seems he underestimated the MLS talent level compared to middle-of-the-road European leagues and the ability of a foreign coach to quickly integrate a team.

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