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. Read More
The Portland Timbers in 2018 were like a well-built pickup truck. They weren’t anything special, but they were sturdy. Without ever feeling like it was the best vehicle out there, one day you looked down and saw that that baby had 250,000 miles on it and was still going strong. Similarly, the 2018 Timbers were a decidedly average team that just kept truckin’ along until they found themselves playing for the MLS Cup. To get back there in 2019, they will need their aging midfield to continue to drink from the fountain of youth, overcome some depth issues, and solidify the attack, but as long as they keep getting their oil changed every 3,000 miles, they could find themselves vying for another trophy. Read More
Going into the 2018 season, Real Salt Lake’s success depended on a few key signings and the growth of their young talents. Both were mixed bags. Heading into 2019, that mix will tilt more heavily toward their youth, as RSL furthers their dependence on an ability to raise and develop young prospects. Read More
After probably the toughest season in Crew history, everything’s coming up Massive for the Crew. An absentee, out-of-town investor/operator has been replaced by a committed local group led by the Crew’s long-time team physician Dr. Pete Edwards. A new stadium in the heart of downtown is in the works, Tim Bezbatchenko has returned home to Columbus as President, and Caleb Porter returned to Ohio to win an MLS Cup for Columbus. With the Crew returning 96% of minutes played in 2018, look for an evolution rather than a revolution on the field from Caleb Porter’s men. Read More
Undisputedly, last year was a disappointment... wait, I used that line already. Oh, well... this is pretty near the end of our “we probably should have made the playoffs but something went wrong” team previews fashion line. The Galaxy may have finally found the right management pieces but are they ready to lead the organization back to glory this season? Read More
The Union faithful have been donning their Sherlock Holmes deerstalkers this offseason. They been dealt a small handful of clues to answer some pretty big offseason questions. Was their 2018 season really their best ever? What became of Borek Dockal? What new tactics will new GM Ernst Tanner ask Jim Curtin to employ? How did they actually land their biggest signing ever in Marco Fabian, and what does this all mean for 2019?
So let’s begin our tour to unravel these not-so-elementary mysteries, my dear Dr. Watson…. Read More
The Vancouver Whitecaps' 2018 season was dull. Their biggest highlight last season wasn't Alphonso Davies's dazzling dribbles, nor his record-breaking sale to Bayern Munich. It certainly wasn't their dirty laundry washing exercise in the form of a season-ending press conference. The players must have found out the management had decided to clean house before they publicly lashed out at each other. The decision to rebuild is painful, but it was also Vancouver's best accomplishment last year. Read More
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