MLS 2015 Season Preview: Seattle Sounders

The new season is less than a week away and in the build-up to the first game, we’ve had an MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what to expect from the Seattle Sounders in 2015…

The Seattle Sounders can head into the new campaign full of optimism. They topped the pile in the Western Conference last season and lifted the MLS Supporters’ Shield but they will want to push on and try and lift the MLS Cup come December this year. Their loss to eventual championship winners, LA Galaxy should help to spur them on this season and it will be an exciting battle in the Western Conference between the two clubs in 2015. Seattle also picked up the US Open Cup in 2014 and are undoubtedly one of the strongest sides in MLS.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 1st – P34 – W20 – D4 – L10

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What needs to change this year?

Head coach Sigi Schmid needs to find a solution to ensure his side can make the playoff final and possibly win the MLS Cup. Losing the Western Conference semi-final against the Galaxy on the away goals rule could be seen as just bad luck, but it was almost a theme of the Sounders’ season. They conceded the tied-most goals of all the sides that made the playoffs and although their play style guarantees goals at the right end, it was their inability to shutout LA Galaxy in the first-leg which cost them so dearly. Seattle on the whole were very impressive last campaign and they aren’t far off from being a complete side. But as MLS becomes even more competitive, they will have to be at their best to ensure they can better last season.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Troy Perkins – Goalkeeper, Tyrone Mears – Defender, Andres Correa – Defender, Cristian Roldan – Midfielder, Victor Mansaray – Forward, Darwin Jones – Forward, Andy Craven – Forward

Outs: Marcus Hahnemann – Goalkeeper, Josh Ford – Goalkeeper, DeAndre Yedlin – Defender, Onyekachi Apam – Defender, Djimi Traore – Defender, Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Eriq Zavaleta – Defender, Sean Okoli – Forward, Cam Weaver – Forward, Tristan Bowen – Forward

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – Forward

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Obafemi Martins scored an impressive 17 goals last campaign and Seattle will need him to be in that sort of form again this season. The Nigerian forward’s finishing is a real asset to the Sounders and his partnership with Clint Dempsey worked so well for them last season. He still has a lot of football ahead of him at 30 and we are likely to see his goals ensuring Seattle progress into the latter stages of the playoffs once again in 2015.

One to watch: Andres Correa – Defender

The Colombian left-back has been quietly going about his development. At just 21 he has made 10 international appearances through the youth ranks of the Colombian national team. Andres Correa could be a long-term star for the Sounders and he will continue to learn from a squad full of talent. This will be a transitional season for him and he will want as much playing time as possible to help his growth. Expect him to be an exciting member of the side if he’s given minutes.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 2nd

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The Seattle Sounders will once again be a real force in MLS this year but it will be tough to replicate last season’s dominance in the Western Conference. The LA Galaxy were slow starters last year but were unstoppable towards the end of 2014 and will be favourites to topple the Sounders in the Western this year. Seattle will be targeting MLS Cup success this season and there is no reason why they can’t go on and become champions with the talent they have in the side.

What are you expecting from the Seattle Sounders in 2015?

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MLS 2015 Season Preview: DC United

In the build up to the new season we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what DC United will be looking to achieve this year.

DC United enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in 2014 as they finished at the top of the Eastern Conference despite being bottom of the pile the season before. Head coach Ben Olsen guided DCU to the playoffs for just the second time in seven years and he will expect to see his squad back there this season.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 1st – P34 – W17 – D8 – L9

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What needs to change this year?

DC United don’t need to change much this year as the challenge will be trying to remain the same. They lost the fewest games in the Eastern Conference last year and ended the season on a unbeaten run of six games. Their playoff disappointment against the New York Red Bulls will still be on the minds of supporters and the key is that DCU try and remain the best side in the East.

That will be considerably more difficult in 2015 with the New England Revolution likely to be right up there again, while expansion clubs Orlando City SC and New York City FC will hope to enter MLS with a bang. The Black and Red will start the new campaign without last term’s top goalscorer Fabian Espindola, as he is suspended for the first six weeks of the new season, and it is crucial that DC United hit the ground running without last year’s talisman.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Markus Halsti – Defender/Midfielder, Jairo Arrieta – Forward, Dan Metzger – Midfield, Michael Farfan – Midfield

Outs: Joe Willis – Goalkeeper, Samuel Inkoom – Defender, Lewis Neal – Midfielder, Kyle Porter – Midfielder

Key player: Bill Hamid – Goalkeeper

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DC United conceded the joint-lowest goals last year as they shipped just 37 through 34 regular season games. The man that can take the majority of credit for that achievement is USMNT goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who enjoyed another excellent season and was named as MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for 2014. Hamid kept 10 clean-sheets in 30 appearances last year and will need to be at his best again this season.

One to watch: Steve Birnbaum – Defender

Another defensive star for DC United, Steve Birnbaum enjoyed a memorable debut season in MLS and he was recently rewarded for a fine campaign with a USMNT appearance against Chile. Birnbaum made 21 appearances in 2014 but will expect to be one of the first names on the team sheet this season. Expect bigger and better things from Birnbaum in 2015.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 6th

DC United may have been the strongest team in the Eastern Conference in 2014 but this year MLS is at its strongest ever and they will struggle to replicate their conference-winning performance this time around. If they can remain as solid defensively they will be in a strong position but teams like Orlando City and New York City will enter the league with plenty of attacking power and it will be tough to keep as many clean-sheets in 2015.

How will DC United fare in 2015?