By IVES GALARCEP
The 2014 MLS season less than two weeks away, and teams putting the finishing touches on their rosters, so it’s time to take a look at the teams that have done the most to improve their rosters heading into the new campaign.
In my latest MLS column for Goal.com, I break down the 10 teams that have had the best offseasons, The 10 teams that did the most to improve their rosters, and address their most pressing needs.
Give the story a read and then let us know which team you think has had the best offseason. Cast your vote after the jump:
Who did you vote for? Which team would have been your second choice? What team’s lack of offseason activity worries you the most?
Share your thoughts below.
Hmmm…I know the conventional wisdom says TFC. I’m not so sure. Here’s my thinking…
1. TFC clearly had the BIGGEST offseason. Signing 3 DPs is pretty big. OTOH, all 3 of them will be missing for significant chunks during the season b/c of the WC. That’s got to gut this team. Additionally, while Liewieke has a great rep from LAG, a lot of his initial moves didn’t pan out so well (Abel Xavier anyone? Paging Ruud Gullit!) and it took Arena to turn the bunch of big names into a coherent soup that went down well. For instance, if the team doesn’t start well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Liewieke cans Ryan Nelsen…Nellie isn’t his man and he’d want to bring in his own coach. TFC clearly had the biggest offseason but it’s not clear to me that they’re a strong team and one of the two best in the East.
2. It’s not accurate to say that Philly “addressed more positions with more players.” If that’s the criteria, it would be DC United (for instance, their expected starting lineup would have 7 guys who weren’t with the team last year, only 16 guys on the roster who were there last year and actually only 11 guys who were with DCU at the start of the season in 2013). No doubt that Philly had some lovely slight of hand to pull off some good moves this off-season. But I don’t think they really fixed their most pressing needs.
3. Actually, the team I think people ought to consider is Chivas. While in the “red headed stepchild” category, the single biggest albatross they faced was there ownership and they managed to ditch that. In some cases, the biggest improvements on the field are going to come by changes off the field. The Vergara ownership fiasco has dogged that franchise since it’s inception. Now Chivas (or perhaps we should call them a team to be renamed later) has the possibility of being a real MLS team with a credible shot at improving and being good.
You heard it hear first: Eddie Johnson will be a bust in DC – I don’t see Ben Olsen putting up with that head case very long – and not be on the plane to Brazil.
Toronto FC would have to add all of Messi’s intergalactic 11 to equal Chivas USA’s improvement from simply getting a new owner.
Eastern playoff teams: SKC, PHI, TFC, NE, NYRB
Western playoff teams: PTFC, LAG, SSFC, VWFC, last spot west goes to a 4 way tie
Losing Kreis is a big blow, but I wouldn’t count RSL out yet.
Toronto could be the most lop-sided team with some of the best talent in the league playing next to some of the biggest scrubs in the league. Their off season improved them, but no team will suffer more during the World Cup if Bradley, Cesar, and DeFoe all go and leave the rest of the hacks to compete.
+1, still without Caesar they have Bendik and w/o Bradley they will play Orsario..
But a lot of teams will lose a major player or two for a couple of games. the WC/Friendlies
While Toronto made a splash with all it’s big name signings (big for the MLS), the other “good” teams made significant off-season signing to bolster their already good teams. The LA Galaxy made some waves, by adding Brazilian Forward Samuel. Swedish winger Ishizaki and experienced Canadian big man, forward Rob Friend, along with keeping DP’s Donovan, Keane, and Gonzales. Keane underwent Achilles surgery on both legs and will play pain free for the first time in years, a scary thought.
My other picks for big improvements are DC United and FC Dallas along with the Union.
The Houston Dynamo with really no changes besides letting Boswell go.
A better question would have been ‘who had the 2nd best off season?’
I can’t wait for the who had the worst installment. Only thing my fire will win all year.
uhhh… clearly toronto
If you count preventing losing elements of the team as improvement then you have to consider LA retained Donovan & Omar who were available for free transfers. They also signed Arena to a contract extension and the creation of LAII may not have implications for this season, but is in my utterly biased opinion, one of the most important developments in league history.
Cannot underestimate the importance of LAG2 from a developmental standpoint. We won’t see the fruits for a while, but ten years from now we might look back to 2014 as the year MLS began to take development seriously.
Omar as DP has hamstrung LA in going after another impact DP. Perhaps arena thinks so much of Zardes that he’s not concerned about adding a foreign attacking star. LAG 2 will produce on the long run.
First blush, for short term improvement it is hard not to go with Toronto. Short term success/wins have a tendency to snowball, but that said, for the most positive impact over the long term, it has to go to Galaxy with their buying/forming a second team. Couple that with the local talent available, their development system and it’s hard to see them as anything but a force and getting a jump on the rest of the league with what will inevitably be the path successful teams follow. Good sign for US Soccer in general.
Bo does have me reconsidering with the Chivas call though. Changes over the last few years in MLS have given me much more room for optimism.
It’s a bit awkward the way Ives comes over from another website to pawn off his articles.
I don’t think so at all.
Why would I care if I flip to another page of SBI or Goal.com….I am not going to wade through a million articles on Messi and English soccer to find what I want over there.
I can’t stand Goal.com. I enjoy SBI because the commentators are respectful, intelligent people. Goal.com is the polar opposite. It’s not Ives’ fault, obviously, but I rarely spend time on that site.
Right…the commentary on Goal.com is insane. It’s a major turn off.
Simple. Chivas for getting rid of their owner.
Ding ding… we have a winner!
That was my vote.
Duh, Toronto. Even I, a huge SKC fan, can admit that. Better question: Which teams have not done enough this off-season? East looks to be stacked, and some teams may have fallen off the pace.
From one SKC fan to another, I enjoy not having to see SKC in these polls and hope I can get used to it.
That being said, clearly Toronto looks the best on paper, but these aren’t always fool-proof. Not to mention DC United gets a big head start on improving in the points category
As an SKC fan as well, you’re both wrong because your team had the best off season. They got to take a cup with them where ever they went. That’s a hell of a lot better than having to chase players because you sucked last year!
It’s clearly the Union.
They addressed more positions with more players.
Any previous offseason they would take the award, but look at the picture!
$100,000,000 in transfer fees and multi-year contracts. Not even close
Is it not obvious with the picture?