Foreword

When my friends from Germany, Arti and Andreas invited me to “write a football blog,” we thought that we would write notes about football in Germany and our views on it. However, it became clear immediately that our blog will write about football not only in Germany, we don’t accept borders.
The decision to write posts about the most interesting League of our time at first didn’t receive support from guys. Some times ago I managed to convince Arti, who convinced Andreas to create the MLS section – it was some that our blog needed.
Like a person living in Atlanta, I was entrusted edit this section in our blog. I hope you’ll enjoy our new endeavor.

The 25th MLS edition gets underway today and it promises to be the biggest season yet.
This season expects three new features that will undoubtedly entail changes in the League.

  • Inter Miami of David Beckham and fellow expansion club Nashville SC will enter the league, which will increase to 26 teams.
  • Seattle Sounders are the defending champions, record-breaking Los Angeles FC will look to go all the way this year after falling short last term, while legend of Arsenal and Barcelona Thierry Henry is the head coach of Montreal Impact.
  • MLS continues to conquer the Latin American television market and sells more broadcast rights outside the US and Canada. However, in native countries it still has the lowest rating among other similar leagues (NFL, MBL, NBA, NHL).

Otherwise, everything will happen classically. The teams are divided into conferences (west and east), after the regular season the playoffs are still played.

EAST CONFERENCE

Leaders:

Atlanta United

Atlanta United
Season 2020 promises to be even more difficult for Atlanta than the previous one. It is necessary to integrate several newcomers into the roster and speed up preparation for the season due to games in the Champions League. However, last year, when no one believed in Atlanta and its head coach Frank de Boer, but the team showed excellent results.

Star players

  • Josef Martinez — Josef has done nothing but score goals since his arrival and he has set the bar so high that anything fewer than 20 goals would probably be considered a down season for the Venezuelan international. 
  • Ezequiel Barco — Now with two MLS seasons under his belt, the team needs the 20-year-old to be a game-breaker in 2020. He has the skills to do it, but he needs to stay healthy and produce regularly enough to prove to Frank de Boer that he’s not just a luxury player.
  • Pity Martinez — After a rocky 2019 debut season and rumors of a potential transfer out of Atlanta, this shapes up to be the season of redemption for the most expensive transfer in MLS history. He has MVP-caliber talent and if he can show it, Atlanta fans could be in for another fun season.
Atlanta starting
Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

In 2019, Philadelphia won the first playoff match in its history. Apparently their mission is to go from good to great. All strong parts of team are saved, but what is absolute for Union?

Star players

  • Alejandro Bedoya — The heartbeat of the Union, Bedoya had a stellar year in 2019 and will look to continue to be one of the best No. 8s in MLS.
  • Jamiro Monteiro — Monteiro’s return was the most crucial part of the offseason and Union GM Ernst Tanner was able to get it done by paying a $2 million transfer fee.
  • Kacper Przybylko — Przybylko’s 15 goals were one of the biggest surprises of 2019. Can he repeat that production this season?
Philadelphia Union Starting
New York City FC

NYCFC return most key players from last season’s top Eastern Conference side, with Ronny Deila taking over as head coach for Dome Torrent. The former Celtic boss takes his run at guiding the Cityzens to glory and he started on the right foot with successful advancement to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
Last season was the best season in their history in MLS for NY City FC and they try to repeat their succes.

Star players

  • Maxi Moralez — One of the league’s best players, Moralez was MLS’s assist king last year with 20 helpers. What will 2020 have in store?
  • Heber — Signed under minimum fanfare, it didn’t take long for Heber to make his mark in MLS. The Brazilian hit 15 goals in 22 appearances in his debut campaign with the club. 
  • Alexander Ring — Despite playing in a huge market, Ring seems to be underrated on a national level. The indefatigable central midfielder is a constant positive presence in the center of the field.
NYCFC starting
Toronto FC

Toronto FC

Toronto, after the failed season of 2018, reached the final of the MLS Cup in 2019. Third in four seasons. Greg Vanni needs to survive all qualitat from his squad in order to fight for leadership in the championship and cup.

Star players

  • Alejandro Pozuelo — Toronto’s big-money acquisition of 2019 was an instant revelation, putting up two goals and an assist in his debut and pushing on from there, racking up 12 of each across 30 appearances on his way to an MLS Best XI selection. Him replicating that type of production — along with strong output from Altidore and Pablo Piatti — would be gravy for TFC, and anything more should have him in the MVP conversation.
  • Jozy Altidore — As my colleague Matt Doyle will detail shortly, Altidore’s presence shapes the way Toronto FC play. Spoiler alert: they’re better with him on the field. He is one of the most formidable and complete forwards in the league, and he starts the season healthy; if he can put together the second 2,000-minute season of his MLS career, Toronto will almost certainly be in a good spot come fall.
  • Michael Bradley — TFC’s undisputed locker room leader is out until at least May or June after undergoing ankle surgery in January, leaving Vanney with a big hole to fill in the center of midfield. They have depth and talent at the position, but Bradley is a unique presence whose intensity and leadership, not to mention his ability to pick out a pass, will be missed.
Toronto FC Starting

Places of teams according to the results of the regular season according to the rating of the authors of this blog:

Marcus: 1 – Atlanta United, 2 – New York City FC, 3 – Toronto FC, 4 – Philadelphia Union

Arti: 1 – Toronto FC, 2 – New York City FC, 3 – Philadelphia Union, 4 – Atlanta United

Andreas: 1 – New York City FC, 2 – Toronto FC, 3 – Atlanta United, 4 – Philadelphia Union

Total Bundesonntag Rating:
NYCFC – 3,33
Toronto FC – 3,0
Atlanta United – 2,0
Philadelphia Union – 1,33

WEST CONFERENCE

Leaders:

Los Angeles Football Club

They are statistically the best team in the history of the regular season of MLS. What can be improved in 2020? The answer is obvious – They should win the MLS Cup and avenging the shock defeat at home to the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Final last year.

Star players

  • Carlos Vela — The best team in regular-season history was led by a player putting up numbers previously unheard of in MLS. Thirty-four goals and 15 assists may never be matched, but if anyone can it’s Vela.
  • Diego Rossi — While many expected the prodigious Uruguayan to be snapped up by a European giant in the offseason, the No. 1 in MLSsoccer.com’s 22 Under 22 2019 ranking looks set to be showcasing his talents in LA for at least a little longer.  
  • Eduard Atuesta — While Vela stole the show, Atuesta’s presence at the heart of the midfield, showcasing both his defensive awareness and passing acumen, was invaluable and earned him an MLS Best XI nod.
LAFC starting
LA Galaxy

Zlatan left Galaxy. His star burned so brightly that the rest of the team did not exist. Now it’s time for Schelotto to create a star team.
Chicharito is not Zlatan, but we remember him from his appearances in the Bundesliga and the Premier League and this is a good reinforcement for the team.

Star players

  • Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez  — No surprises here. Hernandez may not have enjoyed the best of times at West Ham and Sevilla over the past couple of years but get him the service and he will score — a lot.
  • Cristian Pavon — His loan extended for 2020, the thrilling winger showed following his arrival midway through 2019 why he was one of the few bright spots during Argentina’s 2018 World Cup campaign.
  • Jonathan dos Santos — While Ibrahimovic was inarguably the star of the LA Galaxy team over the past two seasons, its heartbeat and engine has been the midfield linchpin Dos Santos. With the big Swede gone, expect the Mexico international’s influence to grow yet further.
LA Galaxy Starting
Seattle Sounders

Seattle will certainly fight to keep the MLS Cup and championship in the regular part. But the Champions League absorbed both Toronto in 2018 and Kansas in 2019. It is very well known where everything can go wrong.

Star players

  • Nicolas Lodeiro — The Sounders’ talismanic playmaker is at the heart of everything they do. Fresh off a second MLS Cup win in the Emerald City, Lodeiro is already a Seattle legend and will look to cement his legacy as an all-time MLS great.
  • Raul Ruidiaz — Scoring at a clip of .72 goals per 90 (including playoffs) since he joined the Sounders in the summer of 2018, the Peruvian international is indisputably one of the best finishers in MLS and was a big reason for their 2019 MLS Cup win. However, he missed 12 regular-season games last year due to injury and international duty, and with Copa América on the horizon his availability might once again be a question mark.
  • Jordan Morris — The American international enjoyed a remarkable comeback season in 2019 which ended up being his best yet in MLS. If he can match that this year, it’ll be a huge boon for the Sounders, to say nothing of the possibility of him surpassing his achievements from the previous season.
Seattle Starting
Sporting Kansas

Kansas missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but their offseason shows that they do not want this to happen again. We look forward to repeating success.

Star players

  • Alan Pulido — He’s a new arrival, but you’ve got to give him his due and count him as a star here. SKC paid top dollar for the reigning Liga MX scoring champion, and he will be expected to immediately deliver goals for a team that has long been wanting for production at center forward.
  • Johnny Russell — The Scottish winger has been as fun to watch as he has been productive in his two years in Kansas City. He can do it all in the attacking third, both setting up his teammates and scoring for himself (he’s had equal goal and assist totals in both seasons, 19 of each in total), and should thrive in concert with a striker as talented as Pulido.
  • Felipe Gutierrez — Gutierrez brings the “third heat” to Sporting’s attack, presenting a legitimate goalscoring option from central midfield. If he, Pulido, Russell and Gerso can get firing on all cylinders, put Sporting KC’s attack up there with the best in the league.
Sporting Kansas


Places of teams according to the results of the regular season according to the rating of the authors of this blog:

Marcus: 1 – LAFC, 2 – Seattle Sounders, 3 – Sporting Kansas, 4 – LA Galaxy

Arti: 1 – Sporting Kansas, 2 – Seattle Sounders, 3 – LAFC, 4 – LA Galaxy

Andreas: 1 – LAFC, 2 – Kansas Sporting, 3 – LA Galaxy, 4 – Seattle Sounders

Total Bundesonntag Rating:
LAFC – 3,33
Sporting Kansas – 3,0
Seattle Sounders – 2,33
LA Galaxy – 1,33

Read full previews with starting lineups and transfers on the official website of MLS

Marcus Groningen
marcus.groningen@yahoo.com