The New York Red Bulls are clear favorites to win the East. The rest of the conference is open with no clear second favorite. (Courtesy Major League Soccer)
By Ryan Fleming
The Major League Soccer season is swiftly approaching us and it’s that time of year where we have to put up with silly conferences and even a more absurd playoff format. But put those things behind and here comes another year with Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel and Nate Borchers (what’s funny? I’m serious).
The Colorado Rapids are the MLS Champs, but that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a new season. Here’s the Eastern Conference preview.
1. New York Red Bulls. The most notable loss for the New York Red Bulls is the departure of Juan Pablo Angel to LA. From ‘07/’10 Angel bagged 58 goals, leading his team in scoring throughout his tenure. Despite the departure, NY does have some replacements, most notably Thierry Henry. The former Arsenal great came to the Red Bulls in July of ‘10, when manager Hans Backe was searching for a possible deadly partnership with Angel. Two other forward options for Backe will be United States Men’s National Team youngster Juan Agudelo and Corey Hertzog. With the creative Joel Lindpere linking up with the forwards from the midfield, combined with defenders Tim Ream and Rafa Marquez, NY looks to be a lock at the top of the East.
2 or 9. Toronto FC. The Reds went under a revamping of sorts in the offseason. The team brought in Aaron Winter and former Ajax assistant manager Bob de Klerk. Just last week they imported three Dutch players to provide Winter with some assistance in deploying the old Ajax system of “total football” up in Canada. For me, the Reds boast a team that could do anything. They could totally flop or, end up near the top of the conference. In a football-crazed town like Toronto, losing is no longer an option. Quick reason for concern, Winter spent a lot of time with trialists and didn’t find any real replacements with the departures of O’Brian White, Joseph Nane, Maxim Usanov, Amadou Sanyang, Chad Barrett, Raivis Hscanovics, Martin Saric and Nick Garcia.