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In light of the series of player moves that have happened this offseason, most notably this past week, a number of Major League Soccer teams have improved themselves significantly – at least on paper.
Although not many of the playoff stalwarts did much tinkering heading into 2011, some of the league's worst teams from 2010 have appeared to take large steps in closing the talent gap, which should make for a pretty exciting season, one whose opening game is less than a month away.
So who are some of the teams that have made the best moves to date?
D.C. United and Chivas USA come to mind as two teams due for large improvements in 2011.
United has acquired Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty, Josh Wolff, Joseph Ngwenya, Perry Kitchen, Rodrigo Brasesco, Ethan White and (for the time being) Pat Onstad in an effort to bounce back from one of the most futile seasons in league history.
With new coach Robin Fraser behind the wheel, Chivas USA has seemingly rebuilt its defense overnight, adding the likes of Jimmy Conrad, Heath Pearce and Zarek Valentin. The offensive side of the ball hasn't entirely been ignored, with the team picking up Alejandro Moreno and also trading with its Home Depot Center rival Los Angeles Galaxy for U.S. Under-20 striker Tristan Bowen.
D.C. and Chivas weren't the only ones to turn over their rosters for the better, though.
The Philadelphia Union seemingly rectified its goalkeeping problems by acquiring Faryd Mondragon from FC Cologne and Zac MacMath in the SuperDraft. In addition to that, Peter Nowak's side added pieces like Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll and Chris Agorsor in an effort to make vast improvements in its second year in the league.
The Houston Dynamo are also in the mix when considering best offseasons. After a disappointing 2010, the Dynamo added the likes of Hunter Freeman, Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin, Jermaine Taylor and Jason Garey while incorporating homegrown players Josue Soto and Alex Dixon.
As for a playoff team that made some bigtime adjustments, the Galaxy should be in the conversation. After losing Edson Buddle to Germany, the team brought in Juan Pablo Angel, Frankie Hejduk and Chad Barrett, among others, in an effort to return to MLS Cup glory.
Finally, a team like the Portland Timbers has also made some personnel headway, even if it's an expansion side. After the expansion draft, the Timbers managed to add Darlington Nagbe, Kenny Cooper, Sal Zizzo, Troy Perkins, Rodney Wallace and Jeremy Hall to its core group.
In your opinion, which team has had the best offseason so far? Cast your vote here:
How did you vote? Any teams not on the ballot that you think deserve mention?
Share your thoughts below.
As a Union fan I’m happy with their moves. I think they might challenge for a playoff spot.
Who has done the most? Probably DC…they’ve had no where to go but up though. I think they’ll be decent.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, on paper NYRB have the best overall starting 11. They’re gonna be nasty if they stay healthy. I think they might win it all this year.
I agree. RSL resigned every key player, and added a couple.
B/c as of right now, they haven’t acquired that star striker. They might go out and sign Messi and then we’ll be celebrating what a coup they pulled off. But as it stands right now, they subtracted a lot of parts and I don’t see much addition going on. And the thing to remember about MLS (though it’s been equalized a bit from where it was 5 years ago) is there are HUGE penalties for being successful. Drafting last is the least important. You play a LOT more games (one year DCU played 26 more games in competition than the last place team in MLS that same year). B/c you looked good (and players had a good season–kind of a pre-requisite in order to dominate like FCD did) everyone gets cap increases (and no-one takes salary cuts), you lose critical depth to expansion.
It’s okay to turnover talent. Dumb teams mostly stand pat. Good teams always seek to upgrade and retool–even after a SS or MLS Cup. But right now, I don’t see FCD as having upgraded in talent (unless you want to argue that losing Pierce or McCarty was addition through subtraction). I expect FCD to start fast and look impressive. I also expect them to stumble badly with injuries and finish the year poorly. Unless they make some major talent additions that they currently haven’t done so far.
Holler back when you win one that rates a star on your bra strap jersey son. LOL.
I don’t think it has anything to do with Hauptman being incompetent. It has to do with Frank Klopas (and de los Cobos) being incompetent.
+1 go eagles (and Union!)
Chivas much will get much better under a good coach,
but RSL kept it together and made a couple additions to a team that was as good as any at the end of last season.
Yes but usually on the bench in street clothes because he is hurt. Ben Olsen has a way of doing that kind of thing.
Tough to argue that point
Support Grant Wahl to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of FIFA!!!
Too early to tell about the McCarty and Wallace deals. The money saved looks to have gone into more robust depth. Hopefully, some of the young hungry talent will come through. It’s a long season and higher caliber depth is important too.
you suck and we dont… we win trophies now… You used to…
+1 I’ve been talking with my season tickets rep about exactly that – where the *&*(*& are the goals going to come from. Stolica and Perovic are certainly looking good together, but I’m not sure I see 20+ goals coming from them. And our midfield has always served balls up, rather than finish off balls the forwards lay back to them. So I don’t see 20 coming from them either. Which leaves us <40, which puts us in the same ballpark as last year (33 if I remember right). Argh!
I am not a huge fan of the 10-team playoff but it doesn’t seem so bad that seeds 7-10 have to compete for seeds # 7 and #8. Especially my team SKC has a better chance of making it (if they win enough).
You can say that CD-9 skewed the numbers a bit…call it the Yao Ming factor. Also, taking into consideration the season that DC had, any type of personnel movement would greatly improve that piss-poor team…You throw in Olsen as the perma-coach and you can see why people get excited however, it doesnt translate into a successful season. I will be following them only to see najar and CD-9
as if right now FCD has a team more than capable of repeating their 2010 performance AND they have a shitload of cash to aquire a star striker with weeks to go prior to the end of the offseason.
How can they possibly have had the worst offseason??
I think that Ben Olsen getting his first off season to help set up the team also figures into the equation. I am getting the impression that Ben Olsen is going to be a heck of a coach at the professional level.
Who knows what will happen, but my guess is that DC United is going to be a team that nobody wants to play at the end of the season. Ben Olsen has a way of doing that kind of thing.
With the addition of Rooney how can NY not be on top of the list?
I think DC is a strong contender for most improved; but that doesn’t mean I think they’ll make the playoffs. They could improve an enormous amount and still not make the playoffs. And given the amount of youth and inexperience, and the time required to gel, I don’t think I expect DC to make the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have improved dramatically.
Actually, Portland had a very exciting season last year.
I voted for DCU but not b/c I’m a fan. Looking at this dispassionately, DCU was wretched last year. They had a huge amount of space to improve just to become competent. I’m not gonna argue that DCU makes the playoffs or wins it all–that depends on a lot of stuff we don’t know yet (like: CD9’s form, if Hamid returns healthy and sharp, how strong the defense is, team cohesion, if Boskovic is more influential this year). But DCU had the best offseason simply b/c they improved so much b/c they were so bad before.
Second on this list would be a tie for RSL and RBNY. I think that resigning talent or locking it into long-term deals is nice but it’s hard to get excited about that. Both teams tinkered intelligently–adding a few key role players, some guys (like Rooney) who are potential wildcards. Generally standing pat is a mistake in MLS. But I think both of these teams (unlike their no too distant past) are actually well run now and model franchises who make very smart decisions about value (rather than inflating the worth of their players).
Actually, I think the far more interesting question is: which team had the worst off-season? For me, that would be FCD followed by the Crew. I think both teams lost a lot of talent. It’s not clear to me that FCD has reloaded. And the Crew still appears to be a work in progress. I’d put Chicago third on this list–lots of holes to fill, a clearly substandard year and…what?
I don’t buy that TFC had a good off-season. It is true that you can have addition through subtraction. But they didn’t handle the DeRo situation well and he’s critical to their offense–heck, he IS their offense.
Why is Portland even mentioned, you have to have a season before you can have an offseason.
We can not forget the players they added from the academy(Kassel & Hot) who will challenge for starting positions.
Ives, please do a piece on the organizational train wreck that is the Chicago Fire. Their front office moves have been horrid.
I think that would make a wonderful topic for SBI.
If DC United can shore up that defense they could go all the way! I know everyone is excited about CD9 and Dax and Najar and future National keeper Bill Hamid, but somehow I think Josh Wolff could end up being a big contributor on this team. DC United is very familiar with him. How many times in the past, year in year out, did Wolff burn DC United for critical goals? His leadership will key. He just needs to stay healthy….I am predicting a big year out of Wolff (As crazy as that sounds!!!)
AND got Hurtado (possibly the best CB in the league) and Evans (one of the more versatile mids) back in full health. A healthy Hurtado and Parke should be a very, very tough combination at CB.
Frankly, I’m surprised that no one is seeing the huge non-changes changes the Sounders have made, literally squeezing every bit of value out of every single dollar. I’m stoked.
We win trophies.
I never said any of them are a sure thing. I said “young talent”. We replaced older, expensive players with younger, less expensive players, who have much greater potential. The only thing that can be debated here is if the new guys have more potential than who we lost. That debate would be a short one.
And how is Friberg a certainty? How much have you seen the kid play? If you’re going solely by what you’ve heard, why aren’t any of the others “sure things”? Everybody is the 2nd coming!
Ditto all that. Johnson in the back had better be stellar.
Question: Is Andrew Hauptman the most incompetent owner in MLS? If not, who?
I feel that RSL should be in the conversation. Aside from retaining a very talented side, they signed their core group to extended contracts that should keep the team competetive for the forseable future. Additionally, they infused some new talent into the squad by getting Arturo Alvarez for next to nothing.
For the position RSL was in, I don’t think they could have had a better off-season. Granted, it was not as significant a face lift as some other teams, but an impressive off season…
Davies is the big question. Before injury he was far better than every striker in the MLS (saying Donavan is a winger). After the injury, who knows?
Timbers looks good on paper. But the league is a lot stronger the when Seattle came (a lot due to them). So it will be hard to any new team doing a lot of damage.
I have to say the Red Bulls, they went and improved the front line, midfield and deffense. The team finally has some real depth and I really do think that that have what it takes to win the Cup if everyone can stay healthy.
Toronto FC had the best offseason because they dumped Mo Johnston, Preki, and all the deadwood players… and brought in a bright Dutch coaching staff.
I would have felt much better about the Timbers acquisitions if they had held on to McCarty and Anthony Wallace. Those two deals will prove costly to them short and long term.
As far as RSL, I agree they had a good offseason with the exception of trading away their first round draft pick that they could have used to pick up Gen Adidas Left back Michael Tetteh. It would have cost them little and I think RSL needs more of an attacking option from its left back position to add variety to their attack.
DC had the best offseason because they had to or they were going to be moved to D3.
Funny analogy! To me, being a fan is more about passion, hope, and belief rather than rational thinking. So, I won’t fault them for that. Seattle will be a contender because Quest Field is a difficult place to escape with points, credit to their supporters there. That place is like a fortress.