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: Orlando City SC

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what Orlando City SC will be hoping to achieve in their first-ever season…

The arrival of Orlando City SC into Major League Soccer is fast approaching and we are excited to see what they have to offer. Expectations to perform will be high, but with Kaka leading the team they stand a strong chance of finishing at the top end of the Eastern Conference in their inaugural season. As it is their first ever campaign people will question how much they can achieve, but their introduction to MLS is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Last season’s finish: N/A (Inaugural Season)

Orlando City players huddle up in preseason action (Photo: http://www.orlandocitysc.com/)

Orlando City players huddle up in preseason action (Photo: http://www.orlandocitysc.com/)

What to expect this year:

Seeing as it is their initial season we obviously cannot compare previous campaigns, but with the players they have bought in there are high expectations. With big signings Orlando have to reach the playoffs and much comparison will be made between them and fellow expansion franchise, New York City FC. With Kaka at the heart of the midfield we can expect classy counter-attacking play led by a calm experienced head. Aurelien Collin will play a major part into how they perform defensively and his MLS experience is vital. Bryan Rochez has been brought in as a Designated Player up top and he will be expected to score the goals that fire Orlando to success this year.

Key changes to the squad:

As it is their first season the squad building at Orlando was vast. Their key additions are:

Ins: Kaka – Midfielder (Designated Player), Bryan Rochez – Forward (Designated Player), Aurelien Collin – Defender, Brek Shea – Midfielder, Donovan Ricketts – Goalkeeper, Amobi Okugo – Defender

Outs: N/A 

Key player: Kaka – Midfielder

Kaka Orlando City SC

There isn’t much to say about former Ballon d’Or winner that already hasn’t been said. He will play a pivotal role in Orlando’s first season and his experience in the squad is unparalleled. Playing at the top level and wrapping up European honours such as the Champions League, La Liga and Serie A mean he is the star. The 2002 World Cup winner will take the pressure for the Lions’ performances on the field and will improve the players around him. The rest of the Orlando squad can learn so much from Kaka and the number 10 will need to be at his brilliant best to set examples and keep his side composed. The 32 year old is a natural finisher and will show why he is regarded so highly by driving the side on with his midfield surges and range of passing. Kaka has always been a pleasure to watch and don’t expect that to change in MLS.

One to watch: Bryan Rochez – Forward

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The Honduran forward has an impressive goals-to-games ratio for former club Real Espana with 30 in 62 and he could be a dark horse for the Golden Boot this season. He has showed in glimpses what he is about in Orlando’s preseason campaign and will need to prove he is worthy of the DP tag Orlando have given him. The 20-year-old striker will enjoy working with Kaka and the service he should receive gives him a good chance of continuing his impressive scoring record.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 2nd

Orlando should have a strong first season and we are expecting big things from them. With the squad they have we can expect them to put up a good challenge against everyone they face. The team is strong throughout with experienced defenders, and creative midfielders and Adrian Heath has one of Major League Soccer’s strongest team’s on paper. With Kaka at the heart of it all we are just counting down the days until kick off now.

How will Orlando do in their first-ever MLS season?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: New York City FC

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what New York City FC will be hoping to achieve in their first-ever season…

We’re extremely excited for the arrival of New York City FC into Major League Soccer, and fans across the league will be looking forward to seeing how they get on in their first-ever campaign. With players like David Villa and Frank Lampard as part of their inaugural roster, they boast some fine talent. But this is their first season and so there is always going to be doubt over the potential of this side. Only time will tell if they are ready to take MLS by storm.

Last season’s finish: N/A (Inaugural Season)

David Villa in action for New York City FC against Brondby (via NYCFC.com)

David Villa in action for New York City FC against Brondby (via NYCFC.com)

What to expect this year:

As this is their first season there is no bar set. However, with the money invested in the squad, New York City will need to at least make the playoffs for 2015 to be deemed a success. Much depends on the arrival of Frank Lampard in July and the extent of his impact will play a major part in their accomplishments this season. They also have David Villa up front however, so they should still be fine until Lampard arrives and will hope to make a good start to life in MLS.

Key changes to the squad:

With this being the first-ever NYCFC squad there have been endless arrivals. The following players are the key additions.

Ins: David Villa – Striker (Designated Player), Frank Lampard – Midfielder (Designated Player), Mix Diskerud – Midfielder, Patrick Mullins – Forward, Ned Grabavoy – Midfielder, Adam Nemec – Forward

Outs: N/A

Key player: David Villa – Forward

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World Cup winner, David Villa is expected to spearhead the New York City attack and what a man to do it. NYCFC has spared no expense in bringing in the decorated striker who boasts his previous clubs as Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia. The Spaniard is a great addition to the franchise and he will be the marquee man to lead this club forward for their first campaign and beyond. Expect goals and lots of them.

One to watch: Khiry Shelton

First round MLS SuperDraft pick, Khiry Shelton has a running style that looks effortless and so he will glide past defenders. Should he get his chance this year, we’re expecting him to make a huge impact. He could form a lethal partnership with David Villa in attack if given the opportunity and the pair demonstrated their chemistry in NYCFC’s preseason draw with Orlando City in the Carolina Challenge Cup.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 5th

Reaching the playoffs in their first-ever season will be the aim for New York City. Failure to do so would be seen as unacceptable given the amount that has been invested in this squad. Jason Kreis has the players at his disposal and must find a way to get the team ticking as quickly as possible. The Eastern Conference will be fiercely competitive but with stars like David Villa and Frank Lampard on their team, NYCFC must make sure they reach the postseason.

How will New York City fare in their first-ever MLS campaign?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: New England Revolution

As the 2015 season beckons, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the New England Revolution will be hoping to achieve this year…

Is this New England Revolution’s year? Could they go all the way? They finished as runners-up last term and were a dominant force in MLS once Jermaine Jones arrived in August. They lost just once in the regular season after the arrival of Jones and were impressive throughout the playoffs before losing in extra-time to the LA Galaxy in the 2014 MLS Cup final. That defeat will still be haunting players as well as the Revs supporters but they are in a strong position to hit the ground running and make another charge at the title this season. 

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 2nd – P34 – W17 – D4 – L13 

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What needs to change this year? 

Not much if we’re honest, they just need to pick up where they left off and hope that Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen can continue to inspire them. Perhaps one weakness with the Revs is the lack of goals from their attacking core. Nguyen (as good as he is) should not be top scorer again and the return of Juan Agudelo is one which should only make the team more dangerous.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Juan Agudelo – Forward, Jeremy Hall – Midfielder, Sean Okoli – Midfielder

Outs: Patrick Mullins – Forward, Tony Taylor – Forward, AJ Soares – Defender, Stephen McCarthy – Defender

Key player: Lee Nguyen – Midfielder

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Lee Nguyen was the standout performer for New England in 2014 and came very close to being named as the league’s MVP, though he fell short to Robbie Keane for that accolade. Still, with 20 goals last season and a deserved recall to the USMNT, Nguyen looks set to inspire his side once again. He was the highest scoring midfielder in MLS last time out and will hope to build on those incredible displays in 2015.

One to watch: Juan Agudelo – Forward

Juan Agudelo returns to New England for a second spell after leaving for Europe in 2013. He will add sharpness to this Revs side in attack and will be battling with Charlie Davies for the starting spot. He will be key this term so expect goals from the 22-year-old striker. With a supporting cast of Nguyen, Teal Bunbury and Jermaine Jones to name just a few, Agudelo could be a genuine candidate for the MLS Golden Boot this year. Watch out.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 1st

New England were four points off first-placed DC United in the Eastern Conference last year and lost four more games than the eventual winners. Though they have Jermaine Jones for a full season now and his influence cannot be undervalued. The Eastern Conference is packed with talented squads and it will be a fiercely competitive campaign, but the Revs have only strengthened over the offseason and will expect to be competing for the MLS Cup again come December. They were the form side at the end of 2014 and won the Eastern Conference title in the end. They will go into the new season in full confidence.

How will New England Revolution fare in 2015?

MLS Fantasy Tips: Top attacking options

The 2015 MLS fantasy soccer game is live and today we take a look at the goalscorers you should be targeting ahead of the 2015 MLS Season. We’re expecting big things from these players and as everyone knows, fantasy football is largely about goals, goals and…more goals.

MLSSoccer.com released their official version of MLS Fantasy on Thursday and we’re going to be providing insight into the best options for your team.

The following forwards are all expected to be amongst the goals this year but are all pricey options as a result. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford more than a couple of these names but your team probably needs at least one if you’re to be successful.

1. Robbie Keane – Striker (LA Galaxy) – $11.0m

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Last season’s MVP, Robbie Keane has a huge task trying to replicate his stellar performances from last year. However, he has the team around him that can offer the right support. The likes of Gyasi Zardes and Steven Gerrard should supply him with enough chances so that he can be high on the scoring charts once again.

Keane comes in to the new campaign off the back of a remarkable season in which he scored 20 times and accumulated twelve assists. We expect more of the same from the MVP.

2. Dom Dwyer – Striker (Sporting Kansas City) – $10.5m

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Dom Dwyer came second in the scoring charts last season with a very impressive 23 goals over the course of the season.

His clinical finishing and electric pace will aid his cause once again this season, and he’s a worthy option for fantasy managers.

3. David Villa – Striker (New York City FC) – $10.0m

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You’d have to say David Villa is quite cheap considering his pedigree. Villa was a World Cup and Champions League winner whilst in Spain, and provides vital experience for any playoff push that New York City FC will make.

With a supply line that will boast Frank Lampard and Mix Diskerud to name just a couple, Villa will surely be a Golden Boot contender in his debut MLS campaign.

4. Obafemi Martins – Striker (Seattle Sounders) – $11.0m

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Obafemi Martins was extremely impressive in 2014 and we expect more of the same this year. It’s more than likely that the Nigerian forward will surpass his tally of 17 goals in 2015 but you’ll have to pay the price for that at 11.0 million.

The partnership with Clint Dempsey in Seattle has been a blessing for the Sounders and they flourish together. Martins will score goals.

5. Clint Dempsey – Midfielder (Seattle Sounders) – $11.0m

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The only midfielder to make the list is Clint Dempsey. The USMNT star played as a second-striker last term and there has been debate over whether he should be listed as a forward. But the official MLS game has him down as a midfielder and that means he will get clean-sheet bonuses as well, Major plus.

Dempsey scored a total of 16 last term and considering he should be playing alongside Martins again this term, he will expect to find the net on several occasions again. He’s a slight risk at $11.0m but is highly likely to be the highest-scoring midfielder in MLS fantasy this season.


 

Who do you think will top the MLS goalscoring charts in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Montreal Impact

As the 2015 season beckons, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the Montreal Impact will be looking to achieve this year.

The 2015 season will be Montreal Impact‘s fourth year competing in Major League Soccer after joining from the NASL for their first taste of MLS in 2012. Montreal Impact fans won’t need reminding how poor they were last season. They were statistically the worst team, racking up just 28 points and finishing bottom of both the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield standings. So 2014 is a year they’ll want to forget quickly, but head coach Frank Klopas and his side can certainly use it as a learning curve for future developments.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 10th – P34 – W6 – D10 – L18

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What needs to change this year?

It’s as obvious as it gets, but they need to stop losing so many games. Only Chivas USA suffered more defeats in 2014 and the defensive issues need addressing urgently. They will be hoping to replicate the 2013 campaign which saw them amass 49 points and qualify for the playoffs, but it’s going to take some serious hard work and plenty of hours on the training ground.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Kristian Nicht – Goalkeeper, Bakary Soumare Defender, Ambroise Oyongo Defender, Marco Donadel  Midfielder, Nigel Reo-Coker Midfielder, Eric Alexander Midfielder, Dominic Oduro Forward, Laurent Ciman – Defender, Donny Toia – Defender, Eric Kronberg – Goalkeeper, Victor Cabrera – Defender

Outs: Troy Perkins – Goalkeeper, Matteo Ferrari – Defender, Krzysztof Krol – Defender, Felipe Martins – Midfielder, Marco Di Vaio – Forward, Issey Nakajima-Farran – Midfielder

Key player: Eric Alexander – Midfielder

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Acquiring the services of Eric Alexander from the New York Red Bulls is fantastic news for Montreal Impact. He was a key player at the heart of the Red Bulls midfield in 2014 and helped them to an MLS Cup Conference Final. A player of his quality arriving can give the whole camp a boost in morale as well as improve the performances of the team on the pitch.

One to watch: Ignacio Piatti – Midfielder

Ignacio Piatti is currently Montreal’s only Designated Player. The Argentinian arrived in August 2014, but only featured six times before limping off injured in September against San Jose Earthquakes. It transpired that Piatti was suffering from tendinitis in his left knee and required surgery, ruling him out for the rest of the season. He managed to notch four goals in his six appearances and could be crucial to the Impact in his 2015 return.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 10th

Unfortunately for Montreal, other teams are attracting big name players and building some formidable squads. Despite some shrewd offseason business, their squad simply doesn’t have the quality, nor strength in depth to be able to compete for a playoff position. It’s a harsh reality, but anything other than last place would probably be seen as a success this year.

How will Montreal Impact fare in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: LA Galaxy

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the LA Galaxy will be looking to achieve this year.

LA Galaxy head into the 2015 season off the back of one of the most memorable campaigns in the history of the club. They won a record fifth MLS Cup title and said goodbye to the legendary Landon Donovan following his retirement. The Galaxy must ensure that Donovan’s retirement doesn’t have a negative impact on their performances on the pitch. Deciding how they will set-up in order to get the best out of the team once new signing Steven Gerrard joins in July will be crucial. The aim for 2015 will be to achieve at least the same again in terms of honours.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 2nd – P34 – W17 – D10 – L7

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What needs to change this year?

It’s not so much a case of what needs to change for LA Galaxy, but more how they can set about continuing from where they left off.  The 2014 season saw them lose just seven regular season games – the least out of any MLS team. Three of those defeats came in the opening eight fixtures, so a better start this time around will ensure they can be the early pacesetters.  The only disappointment from last year will be that they failed to win the Supporters’ Shield, so that will be one of their targets for 2015.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Steven Gerrard – Midfielder (Designated Player)

Outs: Landon Donovan – Midfielder/Forward, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Rob Friend – Forward

Key player: Robbie KeaneForward

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Robbie Keane‘s contribution throughout the 2014 season was astonishing. He is the captain, a leader of men and possesses bags of experience. He will have achieved hero status after his performance last year, including the famous MLS Cup Final winning goal. He will need to continue to take responsibility and guide his team along the way.

One to watch: Gyasi ZardesForward

The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect. Gyasi Zardes was very much the unsung hero last season, due to the attention given to Landon Donovan’s farewell season and Robbie Keane’s superb efforts. He scored 16 goals in the regular season campaign and is growing in quality with every second he spends on the pitch. The recent inclusion in the USMNT will only give him further confidence to act as a springboard for 2015.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 1st

Competition is going to be even higher in the Western Conference this season, but LA Galaxy still boast one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer. They’re certainly one of the strong favourites for the Supporters’ Shield and will also expect to retain their MLS Cup title.

How will LA Galaxy fare in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Houston Dynamo

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the Houston Dynamo will be looking to achieve this year.

Houston Dynamo goes into the 2015 season with a new manager in Owen Coyle and a lot of room for improvement. Following the departure of Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo have signalled their intent that they need to do better. Houston is a team in transition but they have failed to impress in recent times and need to try and bounce back this year. They will be looking to make their mark in the Western Conference following their move from the East to make room for the new expansion franchises.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 8th – P34 – W11 – D6 – L17

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What needs to change this year? 

They need more points. For a team that boasts some highly talented players in DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Davis to name a couple, they need to be performing better. Owen Coyle will bring a British philosophy to this Houston side. And so they should hopefully be a lot better defensively this season and with it, increase their points output.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Erick Torres – Forward (Designated Player), Raul Rodriguez – Defender, Joe Willis – Goalkeeper.

Outs: Mark Sherrod – Striker, Andrew Driver – Midfielder, Tally Hall – Goalkeeper.

Key player: Brad Davis – Midfielder

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Brad Davis is now the longest-serving player to stay with one club in MLS and he plays with pride every time he pulls on the orange of Houston and is a great leader for his side. Expect him to lead them again this season, while his threat from set-pieces is a great asset to the Dynamo. Davis is key to their season.

One to watch: Erick Torres – Forward

It may seem a controversial choice as Erick Torres is not expected to join up until June. However, expect him to have a huge impact on the productivity of this Houston attack. Torres scored 15 goals last term for a Chivas USA side that were below average. He is a natural goalscorer and great signing for the Dynamo. He will need to earn his Designated Player tag as soon as he rejoins MLS with the Dynamo.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 8th

We’re not expecting miracles at the BBVA Compass Stadium this season and so a modest eighth-placed finish will be a good building block for a side that should be pushing for the playoffs the following year.

How do you think the Houston Dynamo will fare in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Columbus Crew

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 the Columbus Crew will be looking to achieve this year. 

Columbus Crew will be looking to replicate last season’s form and finish in one of the all important top six spots in the Eastern Conference once again. The Crew have had a relatively busy offseason with more names out than in. Head coach Gregg Berhalter will be pleased with keeping hold of both Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain, both of whom were at the forefront of everything good for the Columbus Crew last campaign.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 3rd – P34 – W14 – D10 – L10

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What needs to change this year?

Crew SC need to find that winning mentality to turn draws into wins on a more regular basis. They drew more games in comparison to DC United and New England Revolution who were the only sides to finish above them in the East last campaign. The disappointment of the playoff drubbing at the hand of New England is something they can use as motivation for success this season.

Kei Kamara will add more goals and the signing of Kristin Steindorsson can bring in creativity as well as goals from midfield while the addition of Chris Klute from Colorado Rapids brings in another defensive option. The fullback featured 25 times for the Rapids last season, with 24 of those as starts, and he will provide cover to the defence. It is going to be a much tougher campaign this season and a strong squad is going to be vital if Columbus Crew are to make the playoffs again.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Kei Kamara – Forward, Ben Swanson – Midfielder (Homegrown Player), Mohammed Saeid – Midfielder, Kristin Steindorsson – Midfielder, Chris Klute – Defender, Hernan Grana – Defender, Cedrick Mabwati – Midfielder (joining in July)

Outs: Ross Friedman – Defender, Matt Wiet – Defender, Josh Williams – Defender, Eric Gehrig – Defender, Ben Sweat – Defender, Fifi Baiden – Midfield, Daniel Paladini – Midfield, Agustin Viana – Midfield, Matt Walker – Midfield, Bernardo Anor – Midfield, Jairo Arrieta – Forward.

Key player: Federico Higuain – Midfield/Forward

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The classy attacking midfielder enjoyed a solid campaign last term and will need to push on and contribute even more to his side, in a similar role of that of Lee Nguyen with the Revs, as much is expected of Higuain ahead of the new season.

One to watch: Adam Bedell – Forward

His rookie season saw him net just twice in 16 appearances but at 6’6″ he towers over defenders and could become a quality target man for Crew SC. It will be interesting to see if he can tie down a starting role.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 4th

We can expect another hard fought season from Columbus Crew, but in a more competitive division they may struggle to match last seasons third place finish. If Kamara can hit the ground running with goals we may well be surprised with what the Black & Gold can achieve and they must find a way to turn draws into wins.

How do you think Columbus Crew will do in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Colorado Rapids

In the second of our MLS 2015 Season Previews, we take a look at what the Colorado Rapids will be looking to achieve this year. We’ll have a new season preview up every day in the lead up to the season now so be sure to keep checking back for your team.

Colorado Rapids are a side searching for improvement in 2015 as they had a below par season last time out. The 2010 MLS Cup winners will be hoping for a stronger showing this year and Pablo Mastroeni has restructured his squad in order to enjoy the upcoming campaign a lot more than they did in 2014.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 8th – P34 – W8 – D8 – L18

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What needs to change this year? 

The Rapids conceded the most goals in MLS last season (62) and will need to shore up their defence if they are to be successful this coming season. They also had a huge problem in defence towards the end of the year which led to them going on a winless run of fourteen straight matches. The Rapids conceded 27 in their last ten outings – a far from acceptable record. They could also do with an out-and-out goalscorer to support Deshorn Brown, who managed ten goals last year.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Zac MacMath (On loan from Philadelphia) – Goalkeeper, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfield, Sam Cronin – Midfield, Juan Ramirez – Midfield (Designated Player).

Outs: Marvell Wynne – Defender, Zat Knight – Defender

Key player: Marcelo Sarvas – Midfield

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Marcelo Sarvas joined the Rapids from LA Galaxy this offseason and looks set to lead a new-look midfield in Colorado. Sarvas of course won the MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy in 2012 and in 2014 and will be hoping his successful past can inspire his new teammates. The Brazilian is set to partner fellow newcomer Sam Cronin in the centre of midfield and they should form a solid core that the Rapids will hope improves the entire team. Sarvas may take time to adapt to his new surroundings and could take a while to have a telling influence but he will be a key man for Colorado.

One to watch: Axel Sjöberg – Defender

The powerful Swedish centre-back was selected by the Rapids in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and immediately stands out in a crowd. That’s largely down to the fact that he is 6’7″ and Axel Sjöberg will hope he can force his way into the starting lineup in his rookie season to help Colorado’s defence improve.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 10th

A bit harsh you may think, but Major League Soccer is the strongest it has ever been and will only get better. The Western Conference has become even tougher with the additions of Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo and the Colorado Rapids will do well to finish anywhere but bottom this year.

How do you think the Colorado Rapids will fair in 2015?