Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
Most seasons that end without a playoffs berth are usually considered failures. That may be the case for the five clubs that did not advance into the postseason from a tight Eastern Conference this year, but all five teams head into the off-season with at least some reason to feel optimistic about 2013.
From the Columbus Crew, who just missed the postseason, to lowly Toronto FC, each of the five clubs have positives to build on heading into 2013. There is no question that they are all in need of improvement, but the progress they make in the coming months will go a long way in determining if 2013 is a rebound year or another letdown season.
Before they become an afterthought to the current campaign, however, SBI takes a closer look at the Eastern Conference teams that missed out on the playoffs in 2012:
What went wrong- A last-minute goal to D.C. United ended their chances of reaching the postseason, but Columbus only became a serious playoff contender late in the year after the arrival of Federico Higuain. Needed more offensive productivity earlier in the season.
Silver lining- Higuain showed in his short time in MLS that he is the real deal and his quality helped raise the games of many around him, and that nearly translated into a playoff berth for Columbus after a mediocre first half of the year.
Outlook- A full season of the type of productivity that the Crew showed as a whole after Higuain’s arrival should be enough to carry Columbus into the postseason next year.
What went wrong- Too often in 2012 did the expansion team suffer from a lack of consistency or defensive chemistry, which was to be expected.
Silver lining- The first year is over and done with and now the team head coach Jesse Marsch can build on 2012, namely the good soccer they demonstrated they could play at times.
Outlook- The Impact could make a serious push for the playoffs next season if they add some more depth and defensive bite to a team that already has enough firepower with the likes of Patrice Bernier, Felipe Martins and Marco Di Vaio.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
What went wrong- Just not enough goals were scored in Jay Heaps’ first season in charge. There were games when the Revolution’s more offensive-minded style of play did not translate into many clean looks on goal, and even when there was, no one aside from Saer Sene was able to put the ball into the back of the net consistently.
Silver lining- The club has some technically-gifted and creative players in the midfield to build a team around, but the need for another striker and a centerback to pair A.J. Soares with are glaring.
Outlook- Adding a goal-scorer would help the club tremendously as would figuring out what to do with midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who is too well-paid to leave on the bench but might not fit into Heaps’ system.
What went wrong- Some questionable trades at the start of the year, a tumultuous coaching change that has led to a lawsuit and young players showing the growing pains that typically are associated with them.
Silver lining- There are some good pieces in place over in Philadelphia. With Amobi Okugo shining at centerback, Antoine Hoppenot and Jack McInerney proving serviceable attackers and playmaker Freddy Adu gaining a full season of consistent playing time under his belt, the future looks bright.
Outlook- The Union should be able to bounce back next season and reach the playoffs if they acquire one or two more quality pieces, especially a veteran forward who can finish on a consistent basis.
What went wrong- What didn’t go wrong? A coaching change during the first half of the season; the surprise and odd departure of Joao Plata, a key creative player, on loan; more disastrous defending; a season ending injury to star striker Danny Koevermans; a trio of arrests.
Silver lining- From Luis Silva to Ryan Johnson to Danny Koevermans, Toronto boasts some quality attacking talent that is capable of becoming even more potent with some more nurturing and time together.
Outlook- Things can only get better for Toronto FC after an abysmal campaign, but they will need to take some big strides and add more talented players this offseason if they are to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history in 2013.
What did you think of the 2012 seasons for these teams? Which of the five East teams to miss the playoffs do you give the best chance of making the post-season in 2013?
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