Category: MLS

MLS 2017 Season Preview

MLS 2017 Season Preview


The 22nd MLS season is underway. Seattle Sounders are on a quest to defend their trophy, but they are on a very difficult quest. A number of young and talented players will participate in the Major League Soccer this term, but a number of clubs managed to keep hold of their veteran stars. Title-chasing teams seem to be evenly matched, meaning that an entertaining race for the MLS Cup is on the cards.

Title race

New York Red Bulls did remarkably well to win the Eastern Conference last season, but they eventually suffered a dip in form in the MLS Cup play-offs and, as a result, they failed to win the trophy. The Metros kicked off the new MLS campaign with a 2-1 win and it is more than obvious that they are determined to regain the domestic title. Coach Jesse March, who joined the club in January, 2015, has faith in his men and seeing that his squad is a mix of experience and youth, it is no surprise the Red Bulls are regarded as main favourites to win the MLS Cup. New York are after their first ever MLS Cup trophy and they are definitely capable of going all the way in the USA major league this season.

As I have already mentioned, Seattle Sounders face an uphill task in the 2017 MLS campaign. The reigning champions aim to defend the trophy they won last season, but that is easier said than done. Brian Schmetzer’s men were struggling in warm-up games and, to make things even worse for the fans, they suffered a 2-1 loss to Houston Dynamo in the opening match of the season. Anyhow, seeing that the likes of USA star Clint Dempsey and Uruguay international Nicolas Lodeiro are still part of the team, it is no surprise a number of football predictions suggest that the Sounders are going to defend their trophy.

David Beckham’s era at LA Galaxy came to an end in 2012 and it is no surprise that it has been six years since the StubHub Center clinched their last MLS Cup trophy. LA Galaxy finished the last season in third place in the Western Conference, but they eventually failed to beat Colorado Rapids in the conference semi-finals. Giovani dos Santos is eager to help Curt Onalfo’s team bring glory days back to Los Angeles given the quality of fellow title-chasing teams, I would not be surprised if they fail to regain the trophy.

Over the years Toronto FC have established themselves as a top-table side in Eastern Conference. The Reds made it to the MLS Cup final last season, but they were more than unfortunate to suffer a loss to Seattle Sounders (on penalties) in the title game. Anyhow, Toronto proved their worth in the 2016 MLS campaign and they are likely to play an important role in the forthcoming season. Coach Greg Vanney has a number of high-profile players to choose from and, speaking of the title race, the Reds should not be written off just yet.

Players to watch

New York City coach Patrick Vieira did well to keep hold of the likes of Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. Despite the fact that they are nearing the end of their playing days, I believe that will be the key to City’s success in the 2017 season.

Last season’s runners-up Toronto have a very strong squad as well, with the likes of Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley all being part of the Canadian outfit. Altidore scored 15 goals in the 2016 season, meaning that the opposition defenders should have him at bay this term.

Michael Bradley is regarded as one of the best USA players of all time and he is likely to play an important role in the middle of the park. Sebastian Giovinco scored 21 goals, while providing 16 assists for his teammates last season and, no doubt, he is one of the most significant stars in the MLS.

Orlando City star Kaka and aforementioned footballers Giovani dos Santos and Michael Bradley will be the men to watch in the 2017 season as well, but many people believe that youngsters will mark the upcoming season.

Newcomers Atlanta United signed the likes of Josef Martinez, Hector Villalba and Miguel Almiron (none older than 23), whereas 22-year-old Slovakia midfielder Albert Rusnak joined Real Salt Lake. Dallas signed a deal with Cristian Colman of Paraguay, who was born in 1994 and it has to be noted that the average age of all MLS designated footballers has never been younger (27.6 this term).

Coaches to watch

Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic helped Serbia U20 team win the 2015 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand, but the Men in Red were struggling under the former Atletico Madrid ace last season. Veljko and his men are eager to make amends for the unsuccessful campaign and it is more than obvious that the club chiefs have faith in the charismatic tactician.

As expected, Tata Martino took over the reins at Atlanta United. The former Barcelona boss has big ambitions with the Bobby Dodd Stadium outfit for their inaugural season, but his main goal is to build a team that will be keep on making progress as days go by.

Brian Schmetzer, who replaced Sigi Schmid as Seattle Sounders coach 2016 midseason, proved his worth in the MLS Cup play-offs. The 54-year-old tactician helped the Sounders clinch their first ever MLS Cup trophy and, no doubt, he will be one of the coaches to watch in the 2017 season.

Former Arsenal superstar Patrick Vieira is still in charge of New York City. The French coach is satisfied with the way the club worked in the transfer window as they added a number of players to the squad. The new signings will certainly need time to adapt to the new surroundings, but, one thing is for sure, Vieira knows everything about football and MLS needs him.

Footballpredictions.com’s tips

Toronto to win the title

New York Red Bulls to reach the MLS Cup conference final

Sebastian Giovinco to be the top scorer

Find all our MLS predictions here!