Here’s the perspective of our sister newspaper, The Salt Lake City Tribune.
“I think I missed opportunities certainty in the first half and it certainly cost us the game, no question about that,” Robbie Keane said. ” I think that with the chances that we had, we could have killed the game. We didn’t and let them get back into the game. It was a lot of positives in this game, certainly a lot of positives but if you don’t take chances you don’t win games. That’s just the way it goes. We certainly have players on this team that can score a lot of goals.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena: “Wasted chances. We should have taken at least a point tonight.” #LAGalaxy
MLS Eastern Conference Season Preview Capsules
The Associated Press
A look at the Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference teams for 2014, in order of finish last season:
NEW YORK RED BULLS
LAST YEAR: 17-9-8 (First overall, first Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Thierry Henry, F Tim Cahill, F Peguy Luyindula, F Bradley Wright-Phillips, MF Dax McCarty, MF Eric Alexander, MF Jonny Steele, MF Lloyd Sam, D Jamison Olave, D Roy Miller, D Ibrahim Sekagya, D Kosuke Kimura, D Connor Lade, GK Luis Robles.
WHO’S GONE: D Markus Holgersson, F Fabian Espindola, D Heath Pearce, D Brandon Barklage
WHO’S NEW: D Richard Eckersley, D Armando, MF Bobby Convey.
WHAT’S AHEAD: Rookie coach Mike Petke led the Red Bulls to their first Supporters’ Shield in the regular season and he has almost everyone back from the team that disappointed losing to Houston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Thierry Henry (10 goals) and Tim Cahill (11 goals) are up front for the league’s top scoring team (58 goals), and they have depth with midfielders Jonny Steele and Lloyd Sam all capable of contributing. The biggest changes will be in the back with the additions of Spanish defender Armando and the acquisition of Richard Eckersley from Toronto, where he was a fixture for three years. Expectations will be high for the Red Bulls, who have never won an MLS title.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
LAST YEAR: 17-10-7 (Second overall, second Eastern Conference. MLS Cup champion).
WHO’S BACK: F Dom Dwyer, F Claudio Bieler, F C.J. Sapong, F Soony Saad, M Paulo Nagamura, M Graham Zusi, M Benny Feilhaber, M Oriol Rosell, M Jacob Peterson, D Aurelien Collin, D Seth Seinovic, D Chance Myers, D Matt Besler, D Ike Opara.
WHO’S GONE: G Jimmy Nielsen, F Teal Bunbury, D Kyle Miller, D Federico Bessone.
WHO’S NEW: M Sal Zizzo, M Jimmy Medranda, M Alex Martinez, G Andy Gruenebaum.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The MLS Cup champions will be busy this season. Not only will they be defending their league title, they’ll also begin play in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, and then later in the year begin the next round of Champions League competition. There’s also the U.S. Open Cup to worry about, and several players are likely to be called up for national team duty during the World Cup. Managing all of those minutes may be the biggest challenge for coach Peter Vermes, and it’s why he spent considerable resources in building depth. Keep an eye on young players such as Dom Dwyer, a breakout star last season, and 16-year-old homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who has been receiving interest from English Premier League teams. The biggest question mark lies at goalkeeper, where captain Jimmy Nielsen has retired. Longtime backup Erik Kronberg will get the first shot at the job, though veteran Andy Gruenebaum was brought in to provide some competition and youngster Jon Kempin has loads of potential.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
LAST YEAR: 14-11-9 (Seventh overall, third Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Diego Fagundez, M Chris Tierney, M Lee Nguyen, F Kelyn Rowe, GK Bobby Shuttleworth, F Saer Sene, D Jose Goncalves, D Andrew Farrell, D Kevin Alston, D A.J. Soares, M Stephen McCarthy.
WHO’S GONE: F Juan Agudelo, GK Matt Reis
WHO’S NEW: F Teal Bunbury, M-F Steve Neumann, M-F Patrick Mullins, GK Brad Knighton, D O’Brian Woodline.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Revolution hope to keep building after reaching the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2009. They had an eight-match unbeaten streak (6-0-2) before losing in the semifinals against Sporting Kansas City. Bunbury, 23, should provide some offense after being acquired in a trade with Sporting Kansas City. He had 19 goals in his first three MLS seasons. Fagundez, just 19, is the team’s primary offensive threat after finishing fifth in MLS with 13 goals last season. The defense also improved last year with rookie Farrell, a first-round draft pick from Louisville, and Goncalves, who played every minute of every match. The Revolution allowed just 38 goals last season. Shuttleworth was solid in his first season as first-string goalkeeper. With Matt Reis retiring after 16 MLS seasons, the Revolution brought in Brad Knighton from Vancouver to back up Shuttleworth.
LAST YEAR: 14-11-9 (Ninth overall, fourth in Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Will Bruin, D Corey Ashe, M Giles Barnes, M Ricardo Clark, D Warren Creavalle, M Brad Davis, M Andrew Driver, M Boniek Garcia, GK Tally Hall, D Kofi Sarkodie, D Jermaine Taylor.
WHO’S GONE: F Brian Ching, D Bobby Boswell
WHO’S NEW: M Tony Cascio, D AJ Cochran, D David Horst, GK Michael Lisch, F Mark Sherrod,
WHAT’S AHEAD: This will be the Dynamo’s first season without Ching after he retired after the 2013 season after a 13-year career, with the last eight coming in Houston. But aside from him and defender Boswell, the team which lost to Sporting KC in the Eastern Conference final remains largely intact. They will have a young squad but still have the veteran leadership from goalkeeper Hall, who started all 34 games last season, and six-time All-Star Davis. Bruin looks to bounce back from a tough 2013 and return to his 2012 form this year. They’ll also need Taylor to step up and make up for the loss of Boswell, who went to D.C. They should be able to continue their annual run of reaching the playoffs.
LAST YEAR: 14-13-7 (11th overall, fifth Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Marco Di Vaio, MF Justin Mapp, MF Patrice Bernier, MF Felipe, D Matteo Ferrari, D Jeb Brovsky, D Hassoun Camara, GK Troy Perkins.
WHO’S GONE: OUT: D Alessandro Nesta, MF Paolo DelPiccolo, MF Maximiliano Rodriguez, MF Sinisa Ubiparipovic, MF Davy Arnaud, DF Zarek Valentin.
WHO’S NEW: Coach Frank Klopas, D Eric Miller, F Santiago Gonzalez.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Impact had an epic second-half swoon last season but still went to the playoffs in their second season. To address the shortcomings, Montreal made a change at the top, bringing in Frank Klopas from the Chicago Fire to replace Marco Schallibaum. The Impact’s roster remains largely unchanged, with forward Marco Di Vaio leading the way. Di Vaio had 20 goals last season, but he’ll miss the start of this season while serving a 3-game suspension heldover from last season’s playoffs. Montreal was expected to reach agreement with former New York Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce, who spent training camp with the club. Pearce, 29, is coming off hip surgery. The Impact open at FC Dallas.
LAST YEAR: 14-13-7 (12th place overall, sixth inEastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Mike Magee, F Juan Luis Anangono, F/M Patrick Nyarko, M Dilly Duka, M Jeff Larentowicz.
WHO’S GONE: D Austin Berry, D Jalil Anibaba.
WHO’S NEW: Coach Frank Yallop, D Patrick Ianni, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Fire have a new coach with Yallop replacing the fired Frank Klopas. They also have a whole season with Magee, the Chicago product and reigning MVP. Chicago transformed into a postseason contender once it acquired him from the L.A. Galaxy and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker, going 12-6-5 after his arrival following a 2-7-2 start. Magee came up big, scoring 15 of his 21 goals following the trade. But the defense is a question after some offseason moves. The Fire acquired Ianni and Hurtado from Seattle for Anibaba and traded away Berry, the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year.
LAST YEAR: 12-12-10 (14th place overall, seventh Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: M Brian Carroll, F Conor Casey, M Danny Cruz, M Keon Daniel, M Leo Fernandes, D Ray Gaddis, F Christhian Hernandez, F Antoine Hoppenot, M Michael Lahoud, F Sebastien Le Toux, GK Zac MacMath, F Jack McInerney, M Jimmy McLaughlin, D Amobi Okugo, F Aaron Wheeler, D Sheanon Williams.
WHO’S GONE: D Jeff Parke, M Matt Kassel, D Chris Albright, Michael Farfan, M Gabriel Farfan, M Kleberson, M Roger Torres.
WHO’S NEW: M Maurice Edu, D Ethan White, M Pedro Ribeiro, M Vincent Nogueira, D Richie Marquez, M Cristian Maidana, GK Brian Holt, GK Andre Blake, M Corben Bone, D Austin Berry.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Union made major changes after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, headlined by adding Edu and his national team experience to the young club. With Vincent Nogueira joining Edu in the midfield, it will solidify what has been a weak link in recent seasons. The Union also added Maidana and traded for Berry. The Union have reached the postseason just once in their four seasons, so this type of depth should help. McInerney had a breakout season in 2013 with 12 goals, though he tapered off. Casey is nicked up to open the season, and the club will need him healthy to contend for a playoff berth.
LAST YEAR: 12-17-5, (16th overall, eighth Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Federico Higuain, F Jairo Arrieta, F Ryan Finley, F Justin Meram, M Dominic Oduro, M Agustin Viana, M Bernardo Anor, M Ethan Finlay, M Wil Trapp, D Chad Barson, D Josh Williams, D Eric Gehrig, G Matt Lampson.
WHO’S GONE: Interim coach Brian Bliss, M Eddie Gaven, M Matías Sánchez, D Gláuber, D Danny O’Rourke, D Chad Marshall, G Andy Gruenebaum.
WHO’S NEW: Coach Gregg Berhalter, M Daniel Paladini , M Hector Jimenez, D Michael Parkhurst, D Waylon Francis, D Giancarlo Gonzalez , G Steve Clark.
WHAT’S AHEAD: New owner Anthony Precourt took over in August but his enthusiasm and money couldn’t prevent the Crew from missing the playoffs for a second straight season. Berhalter is a former U.S. National Team defender and played for the Los Angeles Galaxy and coach Bruce Arena. Berhalter will bring more structure and a 4-3-2-1 attack that he hopes rejuvenates Higuain and especially Arrieta. Oduro led the club with a career-best 13 goals last season and is slotted for the right flank although he prefers to play up top. Trapp, at age 21 and in his first full season, is a burgeoning star in the midfield and is already considered one of the team leaders. The Crew traded former two-time MLS Defender Chad Marshall to Seattle but in its biggest offseason move signed U.S. defender Michael Parkhurst to anchor the center back position. Meanwhile, Francis and Gonzalez both play for Costa Rica’s national team. Clark was acquired from Seattle and will battle Lampson, the former Ohio State keeper, for the starting job.
LAST YEAR: 6-17-11 (17th place overall, ninth Eastern Conference)
WHO’S BACK: F Andrew Wiedeman, M Kyle Bekker, M Jonathan Osorio, M Alvaro Rey, D Jeremy Hall, D Gale Agbossoumonde, D Ashtone Morgan, D Doneil Henry, G Joe Bendik, G Chris Konopka.
D Jay DeMerit, D Jordan Harvey, D Andy O’Brien, D Sam Adekugbe, F Darren Mattocks, F Kenny Miller, M Gershon Koffie, M Russell Teibert, M Aminu Abdallah, M Andre Lewis, G David Ousted, G Marco Carducci.
WHO’S GONE: G Stefan Frei, M Matias Laba, F Danny Koevermans, F Robert Earnshaw, D Jonas Elmer, D Richard Eckersley, M Bobby Convey, M Darel Russell, M Michael Thomas, F Emery Welshman.
WHO’S NEW: M Michael Bradley, M Dwayne DeRosario, F Jermain Defoe, D Bradley Orr, M Jackson, F Gilberto, G Julio Cesar, D Justin Morrow.
WHAT’S AHEAD: Has there ever been a Major League Soccer club that made a bigger offseason splash than Toronto FC? The club added U.S. national team stalwart Bradley, picked up talented striker Defoe from Tottenham in the English Premier League, brought back fan favorite De Rosario and signed one of the top goalkeepers in Cesar, who had been with Queens Park Rangers. Throw in the loan of Orr from Blackburn and the arrival of Jackson in a trade with FC Dallas and Toronto FC will have a vastly different roster than the one that plodded to a ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference last year. It’ll be up to second-year coach Ryan Nelson to make sure that all of the talent — and all of the egos — are able to coexist on a club that is drawing comparisons to the Miami Heat for the way it has collected stars in the offseason.
LAST YEAR: 3-24-7 (Last place overall, last place Eastern Conference).
WHO’S BACK: G Bill Hamid, M Perry Kitchen, M Chris Pontius, M Nick DeLeon.
WHO’S GONE: D James Riley, D Daniel Woolard, D Ethan White, D Dejan Jakovic, M John Thorrington, M Dwayne De Rosario, M Marcelo Saragosa, F Lionard Pajoy, F Carlos Ruiz, F Casey Townsend.
WHO’S NEW: D Jeff Parke, D Bobby Boswell, D Sean Franklin, D Cristian Fernandez, D Steve Birnbaum, M Davy Arnaud, F Eddie Johnson, F Fabian Espindola.
WHAT’S AHEAD: DC United last year set the MLS record for fewest wins in a season. Bizarrely, they also won the U.S. Open Cup, when puts them in elite company as a participant in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League. Only four starters return from a team that scored just 22 goals in league play. There’s talent among the new names, but coach Ben Olsen is essentially starting from scratch in terms of team chemistry. Johnson (64 career MLS goals) and Espindola (44) can score, but can they mesh? Same goes for the entire new back line of Fernandez, Parke, Boswell and Franklin. At least United’s long-running stadium woes have a hope for resolution, with plans progressing to move out of antiquated RFK and into a new facility tentatively scheduled to open in 2016.
Get caught up with all the off-season moves with this primer
Western Conference Season Preview Capsules
The Associated Press
LAST YEAR: 14-15-5 (Third overall, first in Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: MF Jack Jewsbury, MF Darlington Nagbe, MF Will Johnson, MF Diego Valeri, MF Diego Chara, GK Donovan Ricketts, D Rodney Wallace, D Pa Modou Kah, D Michael Harrington, F Maximiliano Urruti.
WHO’S GONE: D David Horst, D Andre Jean-Baptiste, D Ryan Miller, D Mikael Silvestre, MF Sal Zizzo, F Jose Valencia.
WHO’S NEW: F Gaston Fernandez, D Norberto Paparatto, MF Steve Zakuani, D Jorge Villafana.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Portland Timbers lost just five games last season, a dramatic 23-game turnaround from the previous season, and finished atop the Western Conference for the franchise’s first-ever playoff appearance. The Timbers went to the conference finals where they fell to rival Real Salt Lake. Portland expects to build on that success under coach Caleb Porter, who was named the MLS Coach of the Year his first season in the league. The nucleus of that team remains largely intact, including Goalkeeper of the Year Donavan Ricketts, top scorer Diego Valeri and All-Star Will Johnson. Forward Rodney Wallace had surgery in December to repair a torn right ACL and is expected to miss five to seven months. The Timbers will also play in the U.S. Open Cup and will make their first appearance in the CONCACAF Championship League. If that wasn’t enough attention on the team, Portland will also host the MLS All-Star game on Aug. 6, with the All-Stars facing Bayern Munich. Porter will coach the MLS side.
REAL SALT LAKE
LAST YEAR: 16-10-8 ( Fourth overall, second in the Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: GK Nick Rimando, D Kyle Beckerman, F Alvaro Saborio, D Nat Borchers, F Robbie Findley, F Joao Plata, MF Luis Gil.
WHO’S GONE: D Lovel Palmer, MF Khari Stephenson, D Brandon McDonald, GK Josh Saunders.
WHO’S NEW: MF Luke Mulholland, D/M Jordan Allen.
WHAT’S AHEAD: Real Salt Lake promoted assistant coach Jeff Cassar to replace Jason Kreis, who stepped down after nine seasons with the club to become coach of the expansion New York City FC. A former goalkeeper, the 39-year-old Cassar has been with Real Salt Lake since 2007. Cassar takes over a team that went all the way to the MLS Cup, falling in the end to Sporting KC on a shootout. It’s understandable that the Western Conference champions would not make a whole lot of offseason changes. The team hopes to see big things from Alvaro Saborio, who led the team with 12 goals — despite playing in just 16 league matches because of international absences and injuries. Injuries are already impacting Real Salt Lake this season in advance of their opener against the Los Angeles Galaxy, with forwards Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval sitting out.
LAST YEAR: 15-11-8 (Fifth overall, third in Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Robbie Keane, M Landon Donovan, D Omar Gonzalez, M Robbie Rogers, D A.J. DeLaGarza, F Gyasi Zardes, D Todd Dunivant, M Juninho, D Leonardo, F Jack McBean, D Tommy Meyer, G Jaime Penedo, M Marcelo Sarvas.
WHO’S GONE: M Greg Cochrane, D Sean Franklin, G Carlo Cudicini, M Michael Stephens, M Hector Jimenez, M Pablo Mastroeni, M Laurent Courtois.
WHO’S NEW: M Stefan Ishizaki, F Samuel, F Rob Friend, M Baggio Husidic, F Bradford Jamieson IV, F Raul Mendiola.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Galaxy’s quest to defend back-to-back MLS titles ended early, but a little extra offseason could be a major long-term benefit for a team expected to contend for a championship again this year. Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and their crew all got plenty of time to recover from three straight years of punishing play, with Keane undergoing Achilles tendon surgery and Donovan healing up fully from an ankle injury. Coach Bruce Arena continued to retool his inconsistent attack with the addition of Ishizaki, a Swedish veteran who should bring steady play to the Galaxy’s right side. They also added Brazil’s Samuel and Canada’s Rob Friend to make sure Keane and Donovan don’t have to do everything up front by themselves, and Zardes appears ready to make another leap forward. The Galaxy are expecting more out of Robbie Rogers, who should be more familiar with his new team after his midseason arrival. A spotlight will shine on Jaime Penedo, the Panamanian goalkeeper who played well after being acquired late last year. Donovan should become MLS’ career goal-scoring leader early in the season, but his absence along with Gonzalez during World Cup activities this summer will require his teammates to keep the Galaxy moving toward another playoff run.
LAST YEAR: 15-12-7 (Sixth overall, fourth in Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: F Obafemi Martins, M Clint Dempsey, M Brad Evans, M Lamar Neagle, M Osvaldo Alonso, D Zach Scott, D Leo Gonzalez, D DeAndre Yedlin, D Djimi Traore, GK Marcus Hahnemann.
WHO’S GONE: F Eddie Johnson, M Mauro Rosales, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Patrick Ianni, M Alex Caskey, GK Michael Gspurning.
WHO’S NEW: F Kenny Cooper, F Chad Barrett, F Tristan Bowen, M Marco Pappa, D Chad Marshall, GK Stefan Frei.
WHAT’S AHEAD: After a late-season slide cost Seattle a chance at the Supporters’ Shield and a semifinal round loss to rival Portland, the Sounders overhauled their roster. Johnson was the most notable departure but the moves Seattle made were significant in changing the locker room as much as who takes the field. Dempsey will miss chunks of the season because of his U.S. national team duties. The midfield will be the Sounders’ strength with Dempsey, Evans, Pappa and Alsonso, but the biggest addition could be Chad Marshall as the anchor to a defense that struggled for stretches last season. Frei is back after barely playing the last two seasons because of injuries. Finding scoring will be the question with Johnson gone, but Seattle hopes the combo of Martins and Cooper can work with the talented midfield to keep goals coming.
LAST YEAR: 14-11-9 (Eighth overall, fifth in Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: D Marvell Wynne, D Drew Moor, M Nick LaBrocca, F Deshorn Brown, F Edson Buddle, D Chris Klute, GK Clint Irwin, M Dillon Powers, M Nathan Sturgis, F Gabriel Torres, D Shane O’Neill, F Vicente Sanchez, F Kamani Hill, D Brian Mullan, F Danny Mwanga, M Dillon Serna.
WHO’S GONE: Coach Oscar Pareja, M Martin Rivero, M Hendry Thomas, D German Mera, D Diego Calderon, M Jaime Castrillon, M Jamie Smith, D Anthony Wallace.
WHO’S NEW: F Marvin Chavez, F Charles Eloundou, M Marlon Hairston, M Jose Mari, D Grant Van De Casteele, M Jared Watts.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Rapids haven’t named a permanent head coach just yet after Oscar Pareja left in January to take the same job with his former club, FC Dallas. Pablo Mastroeni has been leading the team through the preseason and could possibly be given the title before the season opener. As the longtime captain for the Rapids, Mastroeni left with several club records, including most games played. The new coach inherits a youthful team, with several players turning in breakout seasons in 2013. That list includes Brown, the team’s leading goal scorer, and Klute, who led the club in assists. Powers was the MLS rookie of the year in 2013 and Irwin played so well down the stretch that starting keeper Matt Pickens couldn’t get his job back once he returned from a broken arm. Colorado will again rely heavily on its youth this season, counting on draft picks such as Hairston, Van De Casteele and Watts to step up.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
LAST YEAR: 14-11-9 (10th overall, sixth place Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: G Jon Busch, D Clarence Goodson, D Víctor Bernárdez, M Shea Salinas, F Steven Lenhart, F Chris Wondolowski, D Sam Cronin, M Jordan Stewart.
WHO’S GONE: D Steven Beitashour, D Justin Morrow, D Ramiro Corrales, M Rafael Baca, M Marvin Chavez, M Mehdi Ballouchy, D Dan Gargan, D Nana Attakora, M Jaime Alas.
WHO’S NEW: M Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, D Brandon Barklage, D Shaun Francis, G Bryan Meredith, M Atiba Harris, D Andreas Gorlitz.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Earthquakes are accustomed to playing in the postseason, and that is the plan after last season’s disappointing miss. Coach Mark Watson likes the mix of youth and experience on his roster. Watson was promoted from his interim coaching position after he took over the team in June when the Earthquakes reached a mutual agreement with Frank Yallop to part ways. San Jose went 11-5-3 under Watson and just missed the playoffs based on a tiebreaker after overcoming a rough start to the season. The Earthquakes were 3-6-6 with 15 points and in second-to-last place in the Western Conference when he assumed coaching duties. … The 28-year-old Pierazzi is the Earthquakes’ prized offseason pickup after the French midfielder made the move to MLS after playing his entire eight-year career with hometown club AC Ajaccio and was the team’s longtime captain. … Wondolowski, on a nice scoring run during his appearances with the U.S. national team in a bid to make the World Cup roster, hopes to take better advantage of his scoring chances this season after getting only 11 goals — his lowest total in four years — one season after scoring a career-best 27. … Corrales, who had been the last original member of the MLS from 1996, retired after last season.
LAST YEAR: 13-12-9 (13th place overall, seventh Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: D Jay DeMerit, D Jordan Harvey, D Andy O’Brien, D Sam Adekugbe, F Darren Mattocks, F Kenny Miller, M Gershon Koffie, M Russell Teibert, M Aminu Abdallah, M Andre Lewis, G David Ousted, G Marco Carducci.
WHO’S GONE: F Camilo Sanvezzo, M/F Jun Marques Davidson, F Corey Hertzog, D YP Lee, D Brad Rusin, G Joe Cannon.
WHO’S NEW: M Mehdi Ballouchy, M Matias Laba, M Sebastian Fernandez, M Nicolas Mezquida, D Steven Beitashour, G Paolo Tornaghi.
WHAT’S AHEAD: After failing to make the playoffs last season, Vancouver decided not to renew the contract of coach Martin Rennie. The Whitecaps went through a lengthy search before promoting assistant coach Carl Robinson, who has promised an attacking style of play. Vancouver will have to rely on veterans DeMerit, O’Brien and Ousted along with finding a way to cover for the loss of top scorer Camilo. Fernandez and Mezquida, a pair of talented Uruguayan strikers, should help with the attack. The club also hopes to have Chiliean midfielder Pedro Morales at some point this season, while Laba’s arrival from Toronto FC should also provide some stability in the midfield. Altogether, Vancouver should have one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in Major League Soccer, not only on the pitch but also in the coaching box, and how quickly they come together will determine whether they are able to qualify for the playoffs.
LAST YEAR: 11-12-11 (15th overall, 8th in Western Conference)
WHO’S BACK: D Kellyn Acosta, F Tesho Akindele, D Jair Benitez, F Fabian Castillo, M Mauro Diaz, G Raul Fernandez, D Matt Hedges, M Andrew Jacobson, D George John, D Stephen Keel, D Zach Loyd, M Peter Luccin, D Michel, F Blas Perez, G Chris Seitz, M Je-Vaughn Watson, D London Woodberry, D Walker Zimmerman
WHO’S GONE: F Kenny Cooper, F David Ferreira, F Eric Hassli, D Ugo Ihemelu
WHO’S NEW: Coach Oscar Pareja, F Andres Escobar, M Adam Moffat, M Brian Span, F David Texeira, M Hendry Thomas
WHAT’S AHEAD: Pareja left Colorado after two seasons to rejoin the team he was with for eight years as a player and several more as an assistant coach and youth development director. He takes over for Schellas Hyndman, the highly successful former SMU coach who led FC Dallas to its only appearance in the MLS Cup but missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Perez led FC Dallas in scoring the past two years and won’t be away with Panama this season. He should get some offensive help from Castillo and newcomer Texeira. Thomas comes over from the Rapids with Pareja and could help stabilize a back line that has struggled since the departure of former SMU star Daniel Hernandez. FC Dallas decided to move on without Cooper, a Dallas high school product, and Ferreira, one of the most prolific scorers in league history. Diaz, who joined FC Dallas in the middle of last season, is seen as the player who has to pick up where Ferreira left off.
LAST YEAR: 6-20-8 (18th place overall, ninth in Western Conference).
WHO’S BACK: G Dan Kennedy, D Carlos Bocanegra, F Erick Torres, M Eric Avila, M Carlos Alvarez, D Bobby Burling, M Oswaldo Minda.
WHO’S GONE: M Edgar Mejia, F Tristan Bowen, F Jose Correa, M Jorge Villafana, M Gabriel Farfan.
WHO’S NEW: D Andrew Jean-Baptiste, M Mauro Rosales, M Agustin Pelletieri, M Tommy McNamara, F Luke Moore, F Adolfo Bautista F Leandro Barrera.
WHAT’S AHEAD: MLS’ most miserable franchise is back from another tumultuous year for a fresh start, even if it doesn’t translate into victories right away. After two head coaches were dismissed and the Goats finished last in the West in 2013, the league bought the club from owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, putting their future in flux. Chivas also overhauled its roster and hired coach Wilmer Cabrera, a veteran Colorado assistant and U.S. national under-17 team coach, to assemble this intriguing collection of returning players and new additions. The Goats added some undeniable talent in front of Dan Kennedy, still one of MLS’ best goalkeepers: 21-year-old Andrew Jean-Baptiste is a gifted center back who should benefit from playing alongside U.S. national team veteran Carlos Bocanegra, while Argentines Mauro Rosales and Agustin Pelletieri should provide some punch in the midfield alongside youngster Tommy McNamara. Moore is a tantalizing addition from England via Turkey, and he should partner up front with promising second-year forward Erick Torres. On Thursday the club announced Argentine left winger Leandro Barrera, 23, will join the Red-and-White ranks on a Six-month loan from Argentinos Juniors. The Goats aren’t thinking about winning the league title just yet, but Cabrera is hoping Chivas is at least a credit to its owners.
*Chivas USA today finally confirmed the signing today of English forward Luke Moore, a player that judging by the above video is not accorded universal respect from some fans of his previous clubs, to put it mildly.
Chivas USA rescued the former West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City forward from exile in Turkey with Sanica Boru Elazığspor, where his career had stalled apparently much like his finishing touch in front of goal.
Not surprisingly, Chivas USA sees Moore’s signing in a somewhat different light:
“Moore is a very talented player who has proven his scoring ability at the international level by playing in one of the biggest leagues in the world,” said Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera. “He’s going to be a very important addition to our team in terms of competition, depth, and possibilities up front to create scoring opportunities and goals.”
*Robbie Keane has been rehabbing his Achilles since offseason surgery, but showed he’s not far off the pace anyway with this prescient strike in the Galaxy’s comfortable 3-0 win over the Galaxy II Saturday in Carson:
Said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena:
“Robbie Keane needs to work hard in the next couple of weeks to be ready and he is getting there. He did a good job tonight. The first goal was unbelievable. I don’t know how he quite saw that, it was ridiculous. That’s why we are paying him the big bucks.”
*Don’t look now, but the downtrodden Goats are unbeaten in preseason and capable of a gutsy three-goal spurt while trailing by two in the kind of come from behind win that instills belief, even in preseason:
*Finally, former Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley and a couple of other players you may have heard from were inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame as the 2014 inductees:
Southern California’s large Armenian population came out in force (despite the above Tweeted pic they made up most of the crowd) to watch reigning champions FC Shirak provide a lively challenge for the Galaxy in the club’s opening preseason game yet were turned back by goals from Brazilian newcomer Samuel and Hawthorne’s Gyasi Zardes.
Galaxy fans got their first glimpse of newly-signed homegrown player Raul Mendiola who the Galaxy have yet to formally announce has turned pro along with Bradford Jamieson, another Academy player. He made a few alert runs and generally telegraphed he was the sort of player to attract foreign clubs’ attention in the past.
“He is a little raw, but he plays with confidence,” coach Bruce Arena said. “A lot of good plays, some not so good. But good for his first time.”
The overall performance pleased Arena:
“FC Shirak played really well, they put a lot of pressure and they tested us,” he said. “Tthey looked like a team that was a little more fit than we were. I think it was a good game. They are very well organized, good pace on the counter. They put our guys in some difficult situations, which is good. I think it was a very good exhibition match at this time of the year, obviously there is a lot of things we have to work on.”
Arena had words of praise for Zardes, too:
“Very good finish, I don’t think he would’ve finished that play last year. He had a good night, and we are going to be playing him in both positions.”
And here’s newly-signed Canadian striker Rob Friend on his interaction with Landon Donovan and other attackers:
“We are all getting used to each other, everyone is getting used to my game, what I can offer,” he said. “There were more direct balls; Landon can run off really well with me. There are a lot of positive things that can come out of that. He moves well off the ball, I try to focus to stay more central, stay high in the pitch to stretch the team. It works better when guys like Samuel and Kean can run off me, I’ll try to run the ball and do the dirty work. We’ve only played two full 90 minutes together, so like I said, we are still learning from each other, but a lot of positives.”
The names Rob Friend, Samuel and Baggio Husidic may well sound like a rejected FourFourTwo spineline, but for Galaxy fans they are now a reality, welcome or not. For more, read this week’s column and revel in the anticipation that is the MLS SuperDraft (ahem).
Now that I’ve (briefly) come up for air from a Breaking Bad watching binge, it’s worth noting that:
Both the Galaxy and Chivas USA refined (and perhaps completed) their preseason plans by confirming games in Fresno and Las Vegas respectively.