Five questions about the 2019 MLS season, and predictions that will inevitably be wrong
Seattle Sounders and U.S. national team striker Jordan Morris is back from an ACL injury that knocked him out for all of last season. It feels like he's almost been forgotten by many fans.
Major League Soccer’s 24th season will kick off Saturday, and coincidentally, the league now has 24 teams.
Here are five questions about some of the league’s top storylines.
Will FC Cincinnati be any good?
This year’s expansion team, FC Cincinnati, has built a roster of misfits and castoffs from the rest of the league. The back line looks good — Greg Garza, Nick Hagglund, towering captain Kendall Waston and Alvas Powell — but there isn’t much in the attack. Lead striker Fanendo Adi needs someone to supply him. Here’s hoping it’s U.S. under-20 playmaker Frankie Amaya. Adding American winger Kenny Saief, as has been rumored, would also help.
Will Jordan Morris return to stardom?
The Seattle Sounders and U.S. national team striker missed all of last year after blowing out his right ACL in February. He was gone for so long that it felt like he was almost forgotten by many fans. Morris is back, and he should be back with the U.S. national team, too. Seattle should also rejoin the Western Conference’s elite with Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz up front.
Will Frank de Boer sink Atlanta United?
For all of Atlanta’s flashy spending on big-time talent, one man could destroy the team’s chances of repeating as champion: its new manager. De Boer had a glittering playing career for the Dutch national team, Ajax and Barcelona, but a checkered tenure as a coach in Europe. Can de Boer get the best out of new star Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez, 19-year-old Ezequiel Barco, and reigning Golden Boot winner Josef Martínez?
Will the Columbus Crew flourish after being saved?
The incredible work by Columbus fans to keep the Crew in their city is one of the great stories in recent sports history. But those fans didn’t just save their team: They got wealthy new owners, plans for a new stadium, and a smart new administration in manager Caleb Porter and GM Tim Bezbatchenko. With the pressure of uncertainty off players’ shoulders, the Crew are a team to watch.
Will Minnesota United’s new stadium be a new soccer cathedral?
That answer is easy: Yes. Allianz Field is a spectacular venue, from its tight-knit seats to the bubble-like exterior that gets lit up at night. Its grass field means U.S. national teams will visit regularly, especially for big World Cup qualifiers in cold weather. And with easy access by public transportation, fans from out of town can get there easily. (Which you still can’t say about Talen Energy Stadium after a decade.)
Predictions that will inevitably be wrong
Best teams in the East: Atlanta United, D.C. United, Columbus Crew
Best teams in the West: Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Los Angeles FC
MLS Cup winner: Nice try. With the playoffs changing to one-game rounds this year, picking a winner in March is impossible.