Top Stories

MLS Pre-season: A look around the Eastern Conference

2008 002

As we move to within three weeks of the start of the 2009 MLS season, all 15 MLS teams are in the heart of their pre-season preparations. Clubs have scattered the globe, from Argentina to England, as they prepare for their run at the MLS Cup trophy.

We here at SBI will try to keep you posted on as much of the league's pre-season activity as possible. This morning we will take a tour of the Eastern Conference for some news and notes about the seven teams in the East:

Columbus Crew

The Crew is set to depart for England, where the team will spend two weeks training and playing in some pre-season matches. After a successful run of results in Florida against some local college teams, Columbus will be in England playing a series of matches against the likes of Liverpool's and Everton's reserve teams. The Crew has bid farewell to rookie Jordan Seabrook.

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Crew have once again inquired about defender Eric Brunner, who the New York Red Bulls hold the rights to. Are the Red Bulls really asking for too much, or could this be payback for the Red Bulls' failed attempts to trade for the rights of former Seton Hall midfielder Teddy Niziolek?

Chicago Fire

The Fire finished up its tour of Mexico with a 3-1 exhibition victory against Morelia on Tuesday. Brian McBride, Austin Washington and Mike Banner provided the goals for Chicago, which will depart Mexico on Thursday. The Fire will eventually head to Los Angeles on Monday for the next leg of its pre-season tour.

New England

The Revs are in Austin, Texas for pre-season training this week, with a friendly against the USL-1 Austin Aztecs set for Saturday. New England is in Texas for a week before heading to North Carolina for 12 days. Among the highlights of the Revs NC portion of their pre-season is a scrimmage against Wake Forest on March 7th. They will then play their final pre-season tune-up on Saturday, March 14th against the Carolina Railhawks.

Kansas City Wizards

The Wizards will be facing the Chivas de Guadalajara reserves in a scrimmage on Thursday after having its scrimmage vs. second-division side Real Colima postponed. The Wizards, currently in Mexico for pre-season, defeated Mexican club Atlas, 3-0, on Monday.

For some insight into how things are going in Mexico, check out Jimmy Conrad's diary for the Kansas City Star.

New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls will open play in the 2009 U.S. Open Cup against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 29th in San Jose. The fixture was announced on Tuesday. The Red Bulls will be looking to erase the bad memories of their 2008 U.S. Open Cup performance, which consisted of a shock upset loss to Crystal Palace USA.

Former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder/defender Albert Celades is off to a strong start in training camp in Argentina and is looking like a good bet to make the team if he and the club can reach an agreement on a contract. Celades has spent a large portion of his career as a defensive midfielder but Projects to play as a central defender with the passing ability Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio covets from that position.

D.C. United

D.C. area fans wanting to see their team in action will have their chance on Sunday, when D.C. United faces defending NCAA champion Maryland in a scrimmage at Ludwig Field in College Park, Maryland. The match is free and open to the public.

Toronto FC

Wondering exactly how much TFC paid for Adrian Serioux, which the club acquired on Tuesday? The total damage was a 2010 first-round draft pick and an allocation one source put at $50,000. Not a bad price for a quality central defender.


What do you think of these items? Will you be trying to attend any of the aforementioned pre-season matches? Think TFC got a steal in the Serioux trade? Excited about the prospects of Celades anchoring the Red Bulls' defense?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Pains me that MLS doesn’t have a reserve league anymore. I understand the business side of it but it better come back as soon as possible. On a team like TFC, Ibrahim needs to be getting real games under his belt for his development and I don’t see him getting too many first-team minutes

  2. JTD, you’ve hit the nail on the head… preseason picks in a ‘capped league like this is unbelievably difficult.

    Serioux was a good pickup for TFC. I know some will doubt that he’s worth a first rounder (what IS the value of a first rounder in this league, anyway? Seems like many are released before seeing the first team), but the club needed to bolster the back line desperately – preferably with a Canadian. Serioux was the best available.

    I wish I had the optimism to pick TFC in the top three… they’ve improved, but I still think making the playoffs is all they can hope for in ’09.

  3. RBNY is shaping up nicely. The core of the team is back (sans DVB, but that’s understandable from what I hear about DVB’s situation with his wife.) The South American contingent will get a full off-season for conditioning/gelling with the rest of the team. The draft picks seem pretty decent. I think RBNY has a good chance of returning to MLS Cup.

  4. East

    1. Fire

    2. TFC

    3. Crew

    4. NYRB

    5. DCU

    6. KC

    7. Revs (all it takes is another Ralston injury)

    (5-7 are interchangeable though)


    1. NYRB (repeat!)

    2. RSL

    3. Dallas

    4. SJ

    5. LA

    6. Seattle

    7. Houston

    8. Chivas USA

    9. Colorado

    i’m probably wrong, but this is fun… i do think seattle will surprise- seriously, they’ve got sigi. i also think that the revs and houston will have fairly off years. the gals, i think, will be on. donovan will be pissed, beckham will be doing what he can to make englands squad, and, in the end, they’ve got bruce. they won’t make a run for the cup, but they won’t be as ridiculous as last year.

    considering mls’s parity, predicitng any sort of final standings is fairly futile.

  5. Mo Johnston looks to have made the right moves. But on the other hand he’s always been a bit of a populist so that’s to be expected.

    Really hard to judge MLS teams in the pre-season as we don’t really know the quality of what’s coming in.

  6. tmack,

    I have to say, the West is a toss-up for me. The East has its own challenges, but I feel the West could see a lot of movement.

    I think RSL are a very well rounded team, but I don’t know what they’ve done in the offseason to make themselves better than last year. This year they are also changing the dimensions of the field in Rio Tinto — making them wider and I believe longer than what they had at Rice Eccles (last year they took the same Rice Eccles dimensions and drew the lines the same way at Rio Tinto, which looked funny on the larger playing surface). So I could say RSL taking more advantage of the speed they have in Movsisyan, Findley and Johnson. But their flanks need to be better and they could use more depth & options at striker (such as a better aerial threat or set piece threat).

    San Jose had a lot of momentum at the end of last year with Huckerby. They really suffered in the first half of the season when they bled goals and couldn’t score. This year they start fresh with Huckerby, plus they have Convey, a very determined Ryan Johnson, a new threat in Cam Weaver (who I don’t think will be great, but will contribute a bit), a Finnish national team d-mid to firm up the midfield, a good defense and a great goalkeeper in Cannon. They won’t bleed nearly as many goals this season and they should score a lot more. What they lack is depth really, so lets see how they do with injuries. I think they’re going to make a big jump this year, but #2 could rightly be too high in too short a time.

    Dallas, Chivas USA and Colorado could all be stronger. I really don’t know… especially about Dallas, they seem to have all the right pieces in place now and just need to gel.

    I’m more confident in LA being woeful yet again for not having balance, speed and youth in their squad.

    I think Seattle will be more competitive than expansion teams have been in the past and really have been built pretty well for an expansion roster. Fredy Montero is going to tear up MLS. Plus they have good speed and balance in the squad. A great goalkeeper but some question marks in defense… and none of this includes the impact of Ljungberg.

    I think Houston will stumble because they have a seriously slow backline and their flanks, particularly Barrett, are going to be exposed by faster teams. NE and NY did it last year, and I expect them to do it again this year, plus others will likely do it as well. Holden is a very good young player, but he has big shoes to fill from DeRo. They’re also lacking depth at forward at the moment.

  7. eugene–

    the thing that will interesting in the west will be whether RSL’s home filed advantage remains as strong now that they’re no longer playing teams in the parking lot….also, as much as i love the quakes (long live the ultras!!!) it strikes me a bit optimistic to pick them as number two in the west

  8. Here’s my guesstimate for the East (so early)

    1. Crew
    2. Fire
    3. TFC
    4. Red Bulls/Wizards
    5. Red Bulls/Wizards
    6. Revs
    7. DCU

    I’m uncomfortable with the Revs at 6, but they’re very dependent on Ralston’s form and health in the middle.

    I’m not uncomfortable with DC at 7 — I think they’re going to have one of the oldest, slowest teams in the league. Going back to what worked in 2007 two years later when their players have aged and everyone else has improved.

    Here’s my guesstimate for the West (so early)

    1. RSL
    2. San Jose
    3. Dallas
    4. Houston
    5. Seattle
    6. Chivas USA
    7. Colorado
    8. Los Angeles

    A real toss-up. I don’t feel comfortable with anyone other than LA in the basement.

  9. De Ro is currently playing left wing now, the lineup against the swedish team was



    -Robinson (Holding)

    as far as midfield and forwards are concerned. Ricketts and DeRo were switching flanks throughout the game, Vitti and DeRo both scored.

    I agree the main concern is defense and GK, can Serioux be a solid CB, and can Velez raise his game, can Harmse become a solid defender as well? Will Sutton play great and let in clangers here in there, or will we see more time from edwards and Frei? We haven’t conceeded much in preseason, but that isn’t saying much, yet.

  10. Well I’ll give it to TFC – on paper, they’ve improved themselves a lot for this season. I suppose the biggest questions are: (1) where do you play DeRo, attacking mid or forward, (2) can Sutton and Dichio stay healthy and do they have anything left in the tank (3) can they play defense. One interesting thing about MLS is that most of us have never seen the rookies or Latin Americans the league brings in, so there’s a lot of suprises to be had. And you never know how well the outsiders coming in will adapt.

  11. making a deal with Celades would really make me feel better about RBNY’s chances this year – any idea what he will be asking for? will this be another example of what JCO described about european players – when they say “money is not an issue” it does not translate to MLS salaries

  12. 1. Crew

    2. RedBulls

    3. TFC

    4. Fire

    5. Revs

    6. DCU

    7. Wizards

    Boy, the East is really loaded this year. Any chance they could get six into the playoffs?

  13. ives- thanks for the updates on all the teams…. very nice to see the pre-season is going well for teams….

    couldnt have asked for a better ending to the fire’s mexican tour….. hopefully BMB continues his performance into the regular season… he’s been nothing short of stellar in the preseason so far….

  14. They got Serioux 2 years ago in the expansion draft, then traded him with the 2nd pick overall for Ronnie O’Brien who was later traded for the 2nd pick this year (Sam Cronin).

    Ives, I know its somewhat secretive, but any chance you know approx. how much allocation TFC have left after all the moves and signings?


Leave a Comment