Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

MLS: 2010 Season Preview – part 1

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 23, 2010
Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup final against LA Galaxy via a penalty shoot-out

The build-up to the 2010 Major League Soccer (MLS) season has been dominated about talk over the potential for player strikes but, thankfully, the powers-that-be and the Players’ Union got together to find some common ground and the big kick-off will take place as planned on Thursday, March 25th. The league’s newest club Philadelphia Union, whose inclusion this season increases the size of the MLS to sixteen teams, will play in the opening match against last season’s expansion team Seattle Sounders. Now in its 15th season the MLS has slowly but steadily grown into a quality sporting product which is able to nurture its own talent whilst embracing top foreign stars and the top clubs have been busy building their roster ahead of the new season. Can anybody take the MLS Cup away from last year’s champions Real Salt Lake? In a two-part preview to the new season “Stoppage Time – International Football blog” looks at the two conferences which make up the league, starting here with the Western Conference:

Real Salt Lake were very much the surprise champion in the 2009 MLS Cup. Having scraped through to the eighth and final spot in the play-offs by virtue of having a better goal difference than Colorado Rapids and D.C. United in the overall regular season table, Real fought their way past the 2008 MLS champions Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy in the play-offs to become overall MLS Cup champions for the first time in their short history. Last year’s beaten finalists Galaxy will have to overcome the setback of star player David Beckham’s Achilles rupture injury, obtained whilst on-loan at AC Milan, but will welcome back a rejuvenated Landon Donovan from his loan spell at English Premier League side Everton. The two-time MLS Cup champions will hope to build on their solid, if ultimately unsuccessful campaign last season, and go all the way this time.

Elsewhere in the west the MLS’s newest franchise Seattle Sounders were the resounding success of 2009 having achieved in their maiden season the record average attendance in MLS history (30,943). The club, who have stuck to the old name from the halcyon days of the North American Soccer League (NASL), finished a respectable third in the conference last season but were ultimately knocked out of the MLS Cup by Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference semi-finals but made up for this disappointment by winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup (an American knock-out competition similar in style to traditional European cup competitions) defeating D.C. United 2-1 in the final. With experienced players such as Freddie Ljungberg and Kasey Keller the Sounders will hope, at the very least, to match last season’s efforts and qualify for the play-offs. Houston Dynamo, who won consecutive MLS Cups in the first two years of their existence (2006, 2007), will rely on top-scorer Brian Ching if they are to keep up their perfect 100% record of qualifying for the play-offs.

Another two-time MLS champion San Jose Earthquakes, who were triumphant in 2001 and 2003, have struggled in the last couple of years having finished 7th in the Western Conference in 2007 and 2008. Another club who have struggled in recent years is the Colorado Rapids who haven’t qualified for the MLS Cup play-offs since 2006 and who have yet to win the trophy in the 15 years since the MLS began. A founder member of the MLS, Colorado came close to the title in 1997 but lost out to D.C. United, and haven’t come as close to winning the trophy since. Another original MLS club FC Dallas, formerly known as the Dallas Burn, have a number of South and Central American players in their squad in order to compete for a first ever title as have Chivas USA, who share the same Home Depot stadium as LA Galaxy, and who have had relative success in the MLS since their inclusion into the league in 2004 having qualified for the play-offs in four out of five seasons but have yet to progress beyond the Conference semi-final stage.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: