Kicking Off Preseason: Western Conference Team Capsules
The offseason is officially over.
Last weekend marked the start of preseason for MLS clubs, giving players roughly six weeks to prepare for the League's 19th season, which kicks off on March 8. The Colorado Rapids have an extra week, now starting on March 15 in New York before returning for the home opener against Portland on March 22.
So as teams gather throughout the country, let's take a look at the moves and notes surrounding each.
We'll start with the Western Conference - which will see six clubs begin 2014 with new coaches - by order of their 2013 finish:
Portland Timbers (14-5-15, 57 pts):
Big News: In addition to numerous individual awards, the Timbers as a team 'won' an honor due to a change in the CONCACAF Champions League rules, which replaces the MLS Cup runner-up with the team with the best regular season record in the conference opposite the Supporters' Shield winner. With NY winning the Shield, Portland joins the Red Bulls, Sporting KC (MLS Cup Champs), and DC United (Open Cup Champs) in the 2014-2015 Champions League. And, the League announced that Bayern Munich will be the opponent for the 2014 MLS All-Star, played in Portland.
IN: Jorge Villafaña (in trade with Chivas); F Steve Zakuani (re-entry draft from SEA); F Gastón Fernández (ARG, discovery), D Norberto Paparatto (ARG, discovery); Bryan Gallego (homegrown); Schillo Tshuma (SuperDraft); GK Andrew Weber (USL Pro)
KEY RETURNS: Donovan Ricketts, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Maximiliano Urruti, Rodney Wallace, Pa Modou Ka, Diego Chara, Futty Danso, Michael Harrington, Kalif Alhassan
Real Salt Lake (16-10-8, 56 pts):
Big News: After losing in the MLS Cup Championship match to Sporting KC, the team's big news was the departure of head coach Jason Kreis, who was hired by 2015 expansion side New York City FC. The club then promoted Kreis's long-time assistant, Jeff Cassar, to be the club's third-ever coach. (The other news: they will not be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League as part MLS Cup runners-up did. See Portland, above).
KEY RETURNS: Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers, Luis Gil, Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran, Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Chris Schuler, Olmes Garcia
LA Galaxy (15-11-8, 53 pts):
Big News: Unlike past years, when the club brought in high-profile players like David Beckham or Robbie Keane, the Galaxy's offseason was relatively quiet. Some changes came on the coaching side, with Kenny Arena and Matt Reis joining the staff, and Academy coach Greg Vanney leaving for the Technical Director role at Toronto FC. While they prepare for the season, they'll also be looking to continue their run in the CONCACAF Champions League, which has LA in the Quarterfinals in mid-March.
OUT: M Pablo Mastroeni (retired); F Jose Villareal (loaned to Mexico's Cruz Azul); D Sean Franklin (re-entry draft to DC United); Hector Jimenez (traded to Columbus); D Kyle Venter (SuperDraft); M Colin Clark, M Laurent Courtois, GK Carlo Cudicini, F Michael Stephens (released)
KEY RETURNS: Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Juninho, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas, Jaime Penedo, Robbie Rogers
Seattle Sounders (15-12-7, 52 pts):
Big News: Seattle had possibly the busiest offseason - among West teams. First the team announced that Sigi Schmid was remaining as head coach, then they made one transaction after another. Oh, and Clint Dempsey returned to Fulham (for the offseason); It will not be the same Sounders team that defeated Colorado in the West play-in game.
IN: F Kenny Cooper (trade with FC Dallas); GK Stefan Frei (trade with Toronto FC); F Tristan Bowen (trade with Chivas USA); D Chad Marshall (trade with Columbus); D Jalil Anibaba (trade with Chicago); F Chad Barrett (re-entry from New England); F Corey Hertzog (re-entry from Vancouver); M Aaron Kovar and F Sean Okoli (homegrown); D Damion Lowe (SuperDraft)
OUT: F Eddie Johnson (traded to DC United); M Mauro Rosales (traded to Chivas USA); M Shalrie Joseph (released); M Adam Moffat (traded to FC Dallas); GK Michael Gspurning (released); Steve Zakuani (re-entry draft by Portland); D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni (traded to Chicago)
KEY RETURNS: Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, DeAndre Yedlin, Marcus Hahnemann
Colorado Rapids (14-11-9, 51 pts):
Big News: Can't get much bigger than Oscar Pareja leaving his post as head coach to take the same role with his former club, FC Dallas. Well, maybe it could get 'bigger' if Pablo Mastroeni becomes the head coach. Right now he's just 'overseeing the first team.'
OUT: M / F Atiba Harris (traded to San Jose); Jamie Smith (retired); M Tony Cascio (loaned to Houston); D Diego Calderon (released); M Jaime Castrillon (released); head coach Oscar Pareja (named FC Dallas head coach); assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera (named Chivas USA head coach)
KEY RETURNS: Clint Irwin, Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers, Vicente Sanchez, Gabriel Torres, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Nick LaBrocca, Shane O'Neill, Chris Klute, Nathan Sturgis, Marvell Wynne, Matt Pickens.
San Jose Earthquakes (14-11-9, 51 pts):
Big News: After leading San Jose on an interim basis for the second part of 2013, Mark Watson was named the club's head coach moving forward. Their other big news is still to come, as the team will unveil a new identity in late January.
IN: Atiba Harris (trade with Colorado); D Shaun Francis (re-entry from Chicago); D Brandon Barklage (re-entry from NYRB); M Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi (AC Ajaccio, France); F Billy Schuler (weighted lottery); M JJ Koval (SuperDraft)
OUT: D Justin Morrow (traded to Toronto); M Marvin Chavez (traded to Colorado); M Mehdi Ballouchy (re-entry by Vancouver); M Rafael Baca (transferred to Mexico's Cruz Azul); D Steven Beitashour (traded to Vancouver)
KEY RETURNS: Jon Busch, Clarence Goodson, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart; Chris Wondolowski, Shea Salinas, Sam Cronin, Walter Martinez, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart, Victor Bernardez
Vancouver Whitecaps (13-12-9, 48 pts):
Big News: It was a somewhat challenging offseason for the Whitecaps. Even before the playoffs started, the team announced that head coach Martin Rennie would not be back . They then went after former USMNT and Egyptian coach Bob Bradley , who instead signed to coach a team in Norway. So Vancouver then ended their search by naming former player Carl Robinson as head coach . But perhaps bigger news was the strange situation which saw MLS Golden Boot champion Camilo leave for Mexico - even though he was still under contract at that point.
KEY RETURNS: Jay DeMerit, Darren Mattocks, Nigel Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert, Jordan Harvey, Kenny Miller, Kekuta Manneh, Gershon Koffie, David Ousted
FC Dallas (11-12-11, 44 pts):
Big News: Before 2013 ended, head coach Schellas Hyndman announced he would not return. In January, the club announced that former player and assistant coach Oscar Pareja would take the reigns, having departed Colorado. Also making headlines was that the team would head to United Arab Emirates for preseason, a first in Major League Soccer.
KEY RETURNS: Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Jair Benitez, George John, Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges, Blas Perez, Andrew Jacobson, Je-Vaughn Watson
Chivas USA: 6-20-8, 26 pts):
Big News: Once again Chivas made a coaching change, this time after interim boss Jose Luis Real returned to Guadalajara. Sporting Director Denis Te Kloese also departed. However just before the draft Chivas announced that former Colorado assistant Wilmer Cabrera will be the new coach.
IN: M Mauro Rosales (trade with Seattle); D Andrew Jean-Baptiste (trade with Portland); F Adolfo Bautista (San Luis, Mexico); F Tony Lockhead (Wellington, Australia); D Andrew Ribeiro (Chivas U-23s); F Fejiro Okiomah (USL-Pro)
KEY RETURNS: Dan Kennedy, Carlos Bocanegra, Eric Avila, Erick “Cubo” Torres, Bobby Burling, Carlos Borja, Gabriel Farfan, Carlos Alvarez