venerdì 9 marzo 2012

MLS Preview

Next March 10, Major League Soccer will kick off its 17th season. It means MLS lived more than North American Soccer League, which faded after just 16 seasons. This is a Don Garber's success. The commissioner has seen a lot of good news latest seasons. Despite the schedule's differences, last year MLS' average attendance of 17,872 surpassed NBA's 17,323 and NHL's 17,132. The league has grown to 19 teams and has three overboarder teams right now. On the field, we will see if the tendence to decrease the percentage of minutes of American and Canadian players will continue. Some American young players, such as Juan Agudelo, struggled to get playing time last season. This offseason, MLS teams have seen a big make up. On the pape, MLS champions of LA Galaxy improved their roster. The champs retained David Beckham and managed to re-sign Juninho back out of Sao Paulo for another season. The signing of Marcelo Sarvas and the return of  Edson Buddle upgrades the offense. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are still there. The Red Bulls, the other powerhouse, added former Germany star Michael Ballack as its third DP.  As for the rest of the league, there is parity? Or there is a gap between rich and poor? RSL is set to challenge Galaxy. Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers, Jámison Olave, Nick Rimando and Álvaro Saborío are the core of a good team. With Robbie Russlle now in D.C., Tony Beltran will be the fulltime right back  starter. Last season, United was a young team. This year, head coach Ben Olsen wanted more depth and experience. To set the goals, United left Santino Quaranta and Devon McTavish and acquired defender Robbie Russell from Real Salt Lake to add experience to the back line. The improve the team, United went also on to sign strikers Hamdi Salihi and Maicon Santos. Salihi, an Albanian international, had an impressive scoring record in the Albanian and Austrian leagues and is one of the newcomers to watch. A young team on the rise is Kansas City.  Peter Vermes' 4-3-3 system will have a news in Bobby Convey moving up top to play as a real winger. The starting fullbacks Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic are a good couple of backs. Vermes has talent and depth and with Graham Zusi still leading the midfield, this is a team to keep an eye on. After Freddy Adu, another big come back was Eddie Johnson. Seattle added former U.S. international to a new team featuring Austrian Michael Gspurning as new goalkeeper and with Steve Zakuani back. A Johnson-Fredy Montero up top couple sounds good. Frank Yallop is on hot seat. His second tenure with San Jose didn't work until now. Yallop assembled the best Earthquakes roster since 2008 but he needs of a playoff appearance to retain the job. A healthy Ike Opara could help. Timbers coach John Spencer has Darlington Nagbe competing with Jorge Perlaza and Bright Dike to partner Kris Boyd up front. Courted by the Houston Dynamo, Boyd decided to sign with Portland. The all-time top goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League, 164 goals in 296 appearances, should fit the Spencer's 4-4-2. The team has an identity and good personnel in Eric Alexander, Kalif Alhassan, and Sal Zizzo. Colombian defender Hayner Mosquera should improve the defense.

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