Premier League Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur

Competition: Premier League – Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Villa Park – Sunday, March 13 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Aston Villa 13/2 – Draw 16/5 – Tottenham 4/9

Match Preview

Premier League strugglers Aston Villa welcome title chasing Tottenham Hotspur to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon in a game between two sides with very different aims.

Villa are on a four game losing streak coming into this one and have been leaking goals in recent games. They lost 4-0 to Manchester City last weekend despite being 0-0 at halftime and looked a depleted side.

Rémi Garde’s side sit bottom of the Premier League. They are nine points away from safety and although relegation is not yet confirmed they’re favourites for the drop.

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Tottenham come into this tie off the back of their 2-2 draw in the North London Derby last weekend – although it was a good point they will rue not taking all three from being in a winning position.

Spurs trail leaders Leicester City by five points but this title race is still wide open. As the season has proved any side is capable of taking points off of one-another so Mauricio Pochettino will be expecting nothing than maximum effort from his players here.

A top four finish is not yet guaranteed for Spurs despite how good of a season they have had. Even though they are pushing hard for their first title since the 1960/61 campaign they must still ensure they are keeping the distance between them and the sides below.

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Team News

Aston Villa have five injury concerns heading into this tie. Libor Kozak, Adama Traore, Jordan Amavi, Carlos Sanchez and Jack Grealish are all expected to be out.

Tottenham have just three injury concerns. Pochettino rested a number of his key players in their Europa League loss midweek but is still expecting to be without Clinton N’Jie and Jan Vertonghen, while Danny Rose is a doubt.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s last five: W/L/L/L/L

Tottenham’s last five: W/W/W/L/D

Key Stat: Aston Villa have conceded 15 goals in their last four games.

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Tottenham goal-machine has netted 17 in the Premier League this season including that stunning effort against Arsenal last weekend, as always we expect him to be key and full of confidence.

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Score Prediction

Aston Villa 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs should’t have too much trouble taking all three points here, as last weekend proved it’s a case of getting the first goal against Aston Villa. Hugo Lloris will be desperate to keep a clean sheet and Pochettino’s side have to keep applying the pressure to Leicester so if there is a slip up from the leaders they can capitalise and gain ground.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. DC United

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, March 12 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 4/6 – Draw 14/5 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

New England Revolution welcome DC United to Gillette Stadium this weekend in what is a big tie for both of these Eastern Conference sides.

New England started their 2016 campaign with a 3-3 draw against Houston Dynamo in a thrilling clash in which they showed great resilience by scoring late on to pick up a point.

Jay Heaps will be pleased with how his side stole a share of the points but will be disappointed to have thrown away their early lead. He will be looking for a much tighter defensive display in their home opener.

The last meeting between these sides at Gillette Stadium saw the game finish 1-1. New England are unbeaten against DC in their last four home meetings and will expect to avoid defeat once more here.

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DC United had an opening weekend to forget as they were thumped 4-1 by LA Galaxy. It was a huge disappointment for Ben Olsen as his side took an early lead, before capitulating in the second half.

They sit bottom of the Eastern Conference – which this early on isn’t a problem as it will be a few weeks before the standings take shape – but they will not want to be there come the end of Week 2’s fixtures.

This is going to be a tough tie and DC will give their fans a huge lift if they are to take points from New England ahead of their first home game of the 2016 campaign against Colorado Rapids next weekend.

No doubt Ben Olsen will have given his side an intense week of preparation heading into this game to ensure they don’t show the same frailties they did against the Galaxy. This is a chance for DC to show the rest of the conference what they are capable of.

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Team News

New England Revolution have no injuries or suspensions heading into this tie.

DC United are still without goalkeeper Bill Hamid who has a long-term knee injury, while defender Chris Korb is also out with a knee problem. Markus Halsti is expected to miss out, while Patrick Nyarko and Fabian Espindola are both doubts.

Key Points

New England’s form: D

DC United’s form: L

Key Stat: Travelsick – DC United have lost 11 of their last 16 away games in MLS.

Key Player: Charlie Davies – The Revs forward bagged his first goal of the season on the opening day and will be full of confidence. He could play a pivotal role to his side this season if he can score on a regular basis.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-1 DC United – We can expect these two sides to provide each other with a difficult game from the off. Both defences will look to be far more organised than last weekend as they conceded seven goals combined. New England look set just to edge it and should pick up their first win of the new season against Eastern rivals on Saturday night.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy 

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Saturday, March 12 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Colorado 19/10 – Draw 12/5 – Galaxy 11/8

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids welcome LA Galaxy to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for their first home outing of the 2016 MLS regular season on Saturday night.

Colorado lost their opener 1-0 away at San Jose Earthquakes, leaving them with just one win in their last nine MLS outings.

The Rapids only won one of their first five games in 2015 and they cannot afford to have another poor run at the start of this season otherwise they will find themselves struggling early on.

Pablo Mastroeni will be hoping his side can pick up a result here to give the players and fans a real boost for their upcoming games – considering LA Galaxy’s impressive start to the 2016 season, this would be more than welcomed.

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LA Galaxy got off to a flyer, winning 4-1 at home against DC United on Sunday. They now sit top of the Western Conference and have the best goal difference across both conferences heading into Week 2.

Bruce Arena’s side really impressed against DC United and came back with some force after finding themselves behind with just five minutes on the clock.

If Galaxy are to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield this campaign they are going to have to show the same determination they did last weekend throughout the season.

2015 wasn’t their best campaign and they looked limp on far too many occasions. Last weekend was a fantastic start to the season, something they must build upon here. Winning away from home proved difficult for LA in 2015 so it will be intriguing to see how they cope on Saturday evening.

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Team News

Colorado Rapids are expected to be without Sean St. Ledger. Fans will also have to wait another five games before they see Jermaine Jones make his debut as he is suspended.

LA Galaxy have a few injury concerns heading into this one. Dan Kennedy and Giovani Dos Santos both had to be replaced in the opener against DC and are unlikely to feature here, while Alan Gordon, Jeff Larentowicz and Leonardo are all doubts.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ form: L

LA Galaxy’s form: W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in the last four meetings between the sides, winning three and drawing one and have scored 14 goals in those games.

Key Player: Nigel de Jong – The Galaxy holding midfielder made an impressive debut last weekend and he has the ability to keep the middle of the park calm. He can continue to make a good impression here and show why he can be the difference in keeping the Galaxy consistent this season.

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Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-2 LA Galaxy – LA Galaxy should prove too much for Colorado in this one and will look to continue their unbeaten run against the Rapids. LA should be looking to take three points in games similar to this one all season and should be overpowering their opponents given the strength of Bruce Arena’s squad.

Three reasons why 2016 opening games were best in MLS history

The highly anticipated 2016 MLS season got underway yesterday with a full round of ten fixtures, seeing all 20 teams in action on the same day.

Once again, MLS served up an offering which included all the crucial ingredients that make for an enjoyable and entertaining watch for fans.

There was drama, unpredictability, amazing goals, defensive horror shows, wonderful skill and high intensity, making the 2016 opening round of fixtures arguably the best yet in the history of the league. Here’s just three reasons why:

Highest goals per-game average for 10 years

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If entertainment is what gives you a thrill, MLS didn’t disappoint. A total of 36 goals were scored on Sunday at an average of 3.6 goals-per-game.

That’s 20 more goals than 2015’s opening round of fixtures and two goals-per-game higher on average.

The last time there was such a goal-fest in the first games of the season was ten years ago in 2006 when there were 24 goals scored across six fixtures, at an average of four goals-per-game.

Despite 2006 seeing a higher average of goals-per-game, it’s of course worth bearing in mind how much MLS has improved in terms of the standard and quality of play since then, making the high goal ratio very impressive.

Five goals in injury time

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It was a day filled with late twists, most notably in Orlando City’s home game with Real Salt Lake. The Lions trailed 2-0 heading into injury time, before goals from Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter in the 94th and 95th minute secured a dramatic 2-2 draw for Adrian Heath’s side.

New England Revolution provided some injury time drama as they were trailing Houston Dynamo 3-2, before Daigo Kobayashi’s 93rd minute equaliser rescued a draw.

There were also some not so important late goals in terms of affecting the outcome of the game, as Toronto managed to put some gloss on the victory away at New York Red Bulls with a 91st minute goal from Marky Delgado to make it 2-0.

Toronto players celebrate scoring vs the Red Bulls (Photo by Ashley Marshall)

Toronto players celebrate scoring vs the Red Bulls (Photo by Ashley Marshall)

Vancouver Whitecaps also scored a 93rd minute consolation goal through Kendall Watson to reduce the deficit in their game at home to the Montreal Impact, which ended 3-2 to the visitors.

Three red cards

Not everyone likes red cards being dished out, but some view it as an entertaining part of the game to see how teams can cope with a man less. Whether you’re for or against players being sent off – it certainly always provides a talking point.

There were two red cards in the thrilling Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake game. RSL saw Demar Phillips sent off for a second bookable offence after 20 minutes, before Orlando’s Darwin Ceren saw a straight red on the stroke of half-time.

Oniel Fisher was also sent off for Seattle Sounders after 41 minutes as his side went on to lose 1-0 at home to Sporting Kansas City.

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Entertaining takeaways from the opening weekend:

  • Chicago Fire and New York City served up a seven-goal thriller with NYCFC winning 4-3.
  • Orlando scored twice in injury time to rescue a 2-2 draw.
  • New England Revolution scored a last minute equaliser at Houston Dynamo in an enthralling 3-3 draw.
  • Vancouver and Montreal provided us with five goals as the Impact won 3-2.
  • LA Galaxy turned on the style by thrashing DC United 4-1.

Was the 2016 opening round of fixtures the best yet in MLS history?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Sunday, March 6 – 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Orlando 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Salt Lake 14/5

Match Preview

Orlando City welcome Real Salt Lake to the Citrus Bowl for the first time on the opening weekend of the 2016 Major League Soccer regular season.

Both these sides failed to make the playoffs last time around and both have room for improvement heading into the new campaign.

Orlando City drew their opening game of their inaugural MLS season and went on to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference.

Their best spell of the 2015 campaign nearly pushed them into the playoffs at the end of last season where they won five out of six – five of those wins coming on the bounce.

Adrian Heath has made some key additions to his squad and will be hoping his side can make a push for the playoffs this time around – Orlando had a solid preseason, only losing once so they have some good form to build upon.

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Real Salt Lake come into the new campaign with optimism and will hope for a repeat of their form at the opening of the 2015 season where they went through their first five games unbeaten – winning twice and drawing three.

Jeff Cassar’s side finished the 2015 campaign 9th in the Western Conference and will want to get off to the best possible start to avoid being in the depths this time around.

They didn’t have the best preseason but this is a chance to start afresh and prove to everyone their not just here to make up the numbers.

They crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League to Tigres but impressed in the second leg on Wednesday and will hope those games have helped their match sharpness.

Their 2015 season ended with four losses in five outings – a domestic run of form they will not be looking to continue.

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Team News

Orlando City have no injuries heading into the new campaign. They have made some key signings, with the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Joe Bendick coming into the squad. Devron Garcia is one to watch for Orlando. He has represented Honduras at U17 and U20 level and is an energetic defensive midfielder. He could prove to be the legs Orlando need in the middle and do some of the running to keep key man Kaka fresh this campaign.

Real Salt Lake also have no injuries ahead of this tie. They welcome back Yura Movsisyan – he won the playoffs in his last spell with the club and has a record of 20 goals in 81 appearances in MLS. Danilo Acosta also signed for RSL and he will be hoping to make his debut here.

Key Points

Orlando City’s preseason form: W/L/W/W/W

Real Salt Lake’s preseason form: L/L/D/D

Key Stat: Travel-sick – Real Salt Lake have struggled on the road, losing ten of their last 12 MLS outings away from home.

Key Player: Kaka – The Orlando captain had a solid first MLS season and now is the time to build on that. He may be 33 now but can still cut it. He bagged nine goals and notched seven assists last season in 28 appearances. He will expected to boss the middle of the park here.

Kaka Orlando City

Score Prediction

Orlando City 3-1 Real Salt Lake – Orlando to get off to a flyer and take advantage of Real Salt Lake’s difficulty on the road. The only meeting between these two last season ended 1-1 but that was at the Rio Tinto Stadium. The Orlando fans will be expecting nothing less than three points and will want to see their side pick up the first opening day win in their short history.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, March 6 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Seattle 5/6 – Draw 5/2– Kansas City 16/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders kick off their 2016 campaign by welcoming Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City to CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.

Both these sides fell short in the playoffs last season. Reaching the 2016 playoffs will be the minimum requirement once again and both sides can send out a real signal of intent here.

The Sounders will be looking to improve on last season’s fourth place finish in the Western Conference and a key start to the campaign is vital for getting early points on the board.

Sigi Schmid will be relatively pleased with Seattle’s preseason – they won their last two games after struggling with three consecutive defeats. Preseason can’t be looked into in too much depth as it doesn’t compare to the intensity of the real action, so it will be interesting to see how Seattle get going here.

Their two CONCACAF Champions League games against Club America will have helped preparations despite crashing out 5-3 on aggregate.

Sounders started the 2015 campaign with a 3-0 win and will look to replicate that this weekend. Their midseason wobble, where they lost six in seven games, probably cost them the Supporters’ Shield – they cannot afford a repeat of that this time around.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

Sporting Kansas City struggled to get going in their 2015 campaign. It took them four attempts to get their first win and they will be looking to get off to a flyer here in what is a tricky opener.

Kansas City are unbeaten in their last three outings against Seattle, winning one and drawing two, and a win here would be a remarkable confidence booster to get things going for their 2016 regular season.

Peter Vermes’ side had an unbeaten preseason and will be looking to use that momentum heading into this tie. They finished 6th in the Western Conference last season and will be looking to improve on that and challenge for the Supporters’ Shield this time around.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have no injury concerns heading into the new campaign. The squad has undergone a little reshape though. The departure of Obafemi Martins will be a big role to fill and it appears Schmid is entrusting Jordan Morris with that task. He penned the highest paid contact for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history so big things are expected from him. Joevin Jones and Michael Farfan will be hoping to make their Sounders debuts.

Sporting Kansas City will also be pleased not to have any major injuries heading into this one. However Ike Opara and Graham Zusi are doubts after picking up knocks towards the end of preseason. The squad has had minimal change which could be a plus for them this season, as players will continue to develop a great understanding of each other on the field. New signings Justin Mapp and Brad Davis will hope to feature.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ preseason form: L/L/L/W/W

Sporting Kansas City’s preseason form: W/D/D/D

Key Stat: Goals – Seattle have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven home Major League Soccer outings.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The obvious choice! Dempsey is easily the Sounders’ key man, as he makes them tick. His role in an injury-hit 2015 campaign was still immense. In the 20 games he featured in, Seattle only lost three times and he contributed to them finding the net 20 times, with ten goals and ten assists.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. All images courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. Image courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Seattle to start their 2016 regular season with a win. They won their last two games of preseason before their Champions League clashes, and they will have put them into good shape. The Sounders should make home advantage count in an action packed game. The last meeting between these sides was a 0-0 draw and Seattle will not want to continue their winless run against SKC in an important opener.

2016 MLS Season: MLSGB predicts final standings

With the 2016 MLS Season just a few days away, the excitement is really starting to build. Preseason preparations are all but over and so it’s time for all 20 clubs to get serious as they look to start the new campaign on the right foot.

We’ve been publishing out 2016 MLS Season Previews over the past couple of weeks and below you can find our predicted league standings.

This predictions are based on how good we think each side currently looks heading into 2016. It’s almost impossible to guess how MLS sides will perform over the 34 regular season games but we’ve had a good go at it anyway.

Click on any team name below to read their 2016 season preview and let us know what you think of these predictions in the comments section below, or on Twitter.

Eastern Conference

1

Columbus Crew Logo

Columbus Crew

2

New York Red Bulls Logo

New York Red Bulls

3

Toronto FC Logo

Toronto FC

4

DC United Logo

DC United

5

Montreal Impact Logo

Montreal Impact

6

New York City Logo

New York City FC

7

Orlando City Logo

Orlando City SC

8

New England Revolution Logo

New England Revolution

9

Philadelphia Union Logo

Philadelphia Union

10

Chicago Fire Logo

Chicago Fire

Western Conference

1

LA Galaxy Logo

LA Galaxy

2

FC Dallas Logo

FC Dallas

3

Portland Timbers Logo

Portland Timbers

4

Seattle Sounders Logo

Seattle Sounders

5

Vancouver Whitecaps Logo

Vancouver Whitecaps

6

San Jose Earthquakes Logo

San Jose Earthquakes

7

Sporting Kansas City Logo

Sporting Kansas City

8

Houston Dynamo Logo

Houston Dynamo

9

Real Salt Lake Logo

Real Salt Lake

10

Colorado Rapids Logo

Colorado Rapids

2016 MLS Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Real Salt Lake could achieve this season.

Real Salt Lake head into the new season with plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Western Conference last campaign. Head coach Jeff Cassar has added some new faces to his side in an attempt to freshen things up but this is going to be a tough season ahead and they are going to have to work extremely hard to improve. The fans will not want another season of struggles, so with sides around them becoming stronger, they must remain competitive in what is a fiercely competitive conference. The aim will be to make the playoffs, after missing out for the first time in eight years in 2015.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 9th – P34 – W11 – D8 – L15

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Real Salt Lake must tighten up at the back. They conceded 48 goals last season, while netting just 38. They need to ensure they pick up points from sides around them in the Western Conference as clashes with fellow promotion chasers are fiercely competitive. Cassar’s side need to score more goals as their tally of 38 was the second-lowest across both conferences. Signings have been brought in to try and add to the goal tally, while the return of Joao Plata will hep. They lost 15 games last term – the most in one campaign since 2007 – and ensuring they don’t repeat that mistake will put them in a better position.

Key Changes:

InsChris Wingert – Defender, Danilo Acosta – Midfielder, Omar Holness – Midfielder, Sunny Obayen – Midfielder, Emery Welshman – Forward & Yura Movsisyan – Forward

Outs: Elias Vasquez – Defender, Chris Schular – Defender, Abdoulie Mansally – Defender, Pecka – Midfielder, Luis Silva – Midfielder, Sebastian Saucedo – Midfielder & Sebastian Jaime – Forward

Key Player: 

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Nick Rimando – Goalkeeper – As mentioned, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper saw his side’s goal breached 48 times last season, so he can expect yet another busy campaign between the sticks. He is a top performer for his side, despite the fact that RSL struggled in the 2015 season. The veteran will turn 37 in the 2016 campaign but as we know, age is less relevant with goalkeepers and his experience could be key as RSL look to pick up more points and cause a few upsets.

One to Watch:

Yura Movsisyan – Forward – The Armenian forward returns to Real Salt Lake for a second spell – his previous stint coming between 2007-2009 where he helped RSL to lift the 2009 MLS Cup, scoring once in the playoffs. The 28-year-old striker joins RSL on loan from Russian side Spartak Moscow and is a player that the Claret and Cobalt fans will be looking forward to watching again. His MLS record stands at 20 goals in 81 outings for Real Salt Lake and Kansas City, so he has already shown he is capable in front of goal. The league has changed since he was last involved and he will need to adapt quickly. There is pressure on him to help RSL improve on last season and if he gets off to a good start he could have quite an impact.

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Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 9th – It may be a downer for Real Salt Lake fans but their current squad doesn’t seem to be one which can improve on last season. They have lost more players than they have signed and squad depth is important – so they could struggle from the off. RSL lost four of their last five of the 2015 campaign and face a tough start to 2016, with three of their first five games away from home. They must ensure they pick up points wherever possible early on to avoid confidence being shattered. There are reasons for optimism, with Joao Plata’s return from injury and the signing of Movsisyan likely to help the team improve but it is difficult at this point to see them climbing the conference.

What are you expecting from Real Salt Lake in 2016?

2016 MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Columbus Crew will be looking to achieve over the next nine months.

Columbus Crew enjoyed a good 2015 season last time out, with the highlight being the trip to the MLS Cup Final, where they unfortunately lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in a game that was almost out of their reach within the first ten minutes. Besides the obvious disappointment of how the year ended, they can be proud of their progress after knocking out favourites New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final. There was cause for concern after their slow start in which they only won one of the first five games, but they turned things around and finished second in the Eastern Conference. Crew fans will be looking forward to the new season, with much more expected of this dynamic, attacking squad. The aim will be to go one better than last year.

Last regular season finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 2nd – P34 – W15 – D8 – L11

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What needs to change this year?

As mentioned above, they need to start better this term. One win from their first five caused concern amongst fans and a similar start wouldn’t provide the required platform to push on from. However, the main concern to be addressed will be the team’s defensive record. The Crew may have finished second in the Eastern Conference, but they conceded the fourth-highest number of regular season goals in MLS. They must shore up at the back this term as they will look to better their record of six clean-sheets.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Corey Ashe – Defender – Emil Larsen – Midfielder – Conor Casey – Forward – Amro Tarek – Defender – Rodrigo Saravia – Midfielder – Ola Kamara – Forward

OutsEmanuel Pogatetz – Defender – Kristinn Steindorsson – Midfielder – Ben Speas – Midfielder – Matt Lampson – Goalkeeper – Kevan George – Midfielder – Aaron Schoenfeld – Forward – Chris Klute – Defender – Jack McInerney – Forward – Sergio Campbell  Defender – Romain Gall – Midfielder

Key Player:

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Kei Kamara – Forward – Kei Kamara was outstanding in 2015, providing some hugely important goals as he matched Golden Boot winner, Sebastian Giovinco’s tally of 22 goals over the course of the regular season. Despite some concerns, he is staying on with the Crew this season and will be a mainstay in the first team once more, should he keep himself fit. His aim will be to better last year’s excellent goal return.

One to Watch:

Ola Kamara – Forward – Columbus now have two Kamara’s in attack. Ola Kamara is a newly-acquired signing from Austria Wien, who has played international football for Norway. He can play as a winger or as an out-and-out striker and will provide cover for the front three this season in Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram and Kei Kamara. He will look to nail down a starting berth and could prove to be a dangerous outlet if given the sufficient minutes by Gregg Berhalter.

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Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 1st – The Crew ended 2015 as one of the most dangerous sides in MLS and will look to challenge at the very top of the Eastern Conference once again this term. There have not been many changes to their starting lineup and that probably puts them in the best position to push on in 2016 and go one better than their second-placed finish last year. Expect others like New York Red Bulls, DC United and Toronto FC to challenge for top spot, but over the course of the season we see Columbus leading the pack, with an immediate return to the MLS Cup Final a real possibility.

What are you expecting from Columbus Crew in 2016?

2016 MLS Season Preview: DC United

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what DC United will be looking to achieve.

DC United were the early Eastern Conference pace-setters last season, suffering only one defeat in their first ten matches. They ended the 2015 campaign in fourth place in the East as a season that began with so much optimism ultimately fizzled away, with playoff elimination coming against the New York Red Bulls for the second-straight season. Too many away defeats played a factor in their fall from the top, with ten defeats on the road a poor return. The heavy 5-0 defeat to Columbus on the last day of the regular season at the MAPFRE Stadium was the lowpoint. Sadly the season will also be remembered for being the last for former DP Eddie Johnson, who had to retire due to a heart problem that ultimately left him on the sidelines for the 2015 season. DC have CONCACAF Champions League commitments to deal with in late February before the MLS season starts, with a two-legged quarter-final against Queretaro coming up. They have suffered a huge setback with the news that goalkeeper Bill Hamid is set to miss 4-6 months with a serious knee injury.

Last Season’s Finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 4th – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Away form. As mentioned above, the road form last year brings cause for concern this season as three wins on the road just simply wasn’t good enough for a team that needs to be challenging at the top end of the Eastern Conference. This terrible away record was compounded by the fact they only scored nine goals away from RFK Stadium – something they need to seriously address. Their home form remains relatively strong, so there are some positives they can take into next season, but improving the returns on the road would put them in a much better position to challenge for success.

Key Changes To Squad:

Ins: Lamar Neagle – Midfielder, Patrick Nyarko – Midfielder, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Luciano Acosta (loan) – Midfielder

Out: Eddie Johnson – Striker, Jairo Arrieta – Striker, Michael Farfan – Midfielder, Facundo Coria – Midfielder, Perry Kitchen – Midfielder, Chris Pontius – Midfielder, Conor Doyle – Striker

Key Player:

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Patrick Nyarko – Midfielder – The midfield acquisition from Chicago Fire brings bags of experience and will hope to make an immediate impact with his new team. He recorded three goals and three assists last term and will hope to nail down a starting berth early on in what is a competitive DC United midfield. He will want to impress Ben Olsen and prove his worth to become a mainstay in that midfield and could become a key part of the side.

One To Watch:

Luciano Acosta – Midfielder – The 21-year-old Argentine has arrived on loan for the season from Boca Juniors. He made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, bagging an assist for Fabian Espindola in a 1-0 victory. Ben Olsen has said: “He’s unpredictable, he’s electric and he is a lot of fun to watch”. DC fans must be filled with glee at what this young man could bring to the RFK in 2016 and he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 4th – We predict that DC will finish 2016 in exactly the same position as they finished up in 2015. The lack of forward options at Ben Olsen’s disposal is a slight concern as they released three forwards during the offseason. They should still make the playoffs but the absence of Bill Hamid in particular could prevent them from challenging at the very top. A few experienced names have come in, but they are all predominantly midfield options. It should be an exciting season nevertheless and they will hope for a better run in the postseason, should they qualify for the playoffs as expected.

What are you expecting from DC United in 2016?