MLS ready to kick off 21st season
Interesting story lines include Galaxy, Sounders, New York City FC
Major League Soccer’s 21st season kicks off Sunday with a full slate of games that starts at 1:30 p.m. ET with Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls and concludes at 10 p.m. ET with D.C. United at Los Angeles Galaxy.
Here are four story lines to watch this season:
CAN THE REVAMPED LOS ANGELES GALAXY SUCCEED?
The Galaxy are the most successful team in MLS history, and they’re adding big names: Steven Gerrard is still around, and the team is bringing in England left back Ashley Cole and Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong. De Jong is the baby of the group at 31, while Gerrard and Cole are 35.
The team has had success with older European stars — David Beckham and Robbie Keane come to mind — but as other teams in MLS have shown, this strategy isn’t the instant fix it once was. The league is stronger and teams better and deeper. Will the Galaxy be able to come together and endure the lengthy MLS schedule?
HOW WILL JORDAN MORRIS IMPACT THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS?
The Sounders had arguably the biggest signing of the MLS offseason by locking up one of their own, Jordan Morris, the young striker who made news with big performances for the U.S. national team and chose the Sounders, his home club, over German team Werder Bremen.
People can argue all day long about what Morris’ decision to stay says about MLS, but what is undeniable is that he’ll be expected to produce for the club right away after the departure of high-scoring Obafemi Martins.
CAN NEW YORK CITY FC FIGURE OUT HOWTO DEFEND AND WIN UNDER
NEW COACH PATRICK VIEIRA?
NYCFC’s introduction to MLS last year was a marketing dream, as rowdy fans filled Yankee Stadium to see big names Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Frank Lampard and Mix Diskerud play for the expansion team.
The product on the field didn’t match the hype off of it, however, and the team struggled in amiddling season.
The team has a new coach in Vieira, and the legendary French midfielder must figure out how to create space on the field for his talented players and still muster up strength and defending in the midfield and back line.
CAN TORONTO FC PUT IT TOGETHER?
On paper, no team is more fearsome. Sebastian Giovinco was a revelation for Toronto last year, leading the league in goals (22) and assists (16) and creating a career’s worth of highlights in one breathtaking season.
Giovinco is joined by U.S. national team stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. Despite all this talent, Toronto sputtered at the end of the season and didn’t make the final.
With a team loaded with this attacking talent, the pressure is on for Toronto to put it together and win … now.
The Sounders are banking on 21year-old American forward Jordan Morris to help spark their offense.