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2012 Eastern Conference Preview

Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire
Profile
2011: 6th - Eastern Conference (9-9-16). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
Additions: F Mkhokheli Dube (signed), G Jay Nolly (trade with Vancouver), F Federico Puppo (Int'l signing), M Rafael Robayo (Int'l signing).
Subtractions: G Jon Conway (retired), M Baggio Husidic (declined), F Diego Chaves (signed in Chile), G Alec Dufty (declined), F Christian Nazarit (declined).
2012 Outlook
It was a tale of two seasons for the Chicago Fire in 2011. They suffered through a disastrous open to the season that ultimately cost head coach Carlos de los Cobos his job. After installing technical director Frank Klopas as interim manager and reinforcing the lineup with players like Sebastián Grazzini and Pável Pardo, the Fire went on a late season run that saw them pick up 24 points in their last 12 league matches. However it was not enough to stop them from missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Now heading into 2012 with Klopas as the permanent head man and strength in midfield, The Fire will be looking to once again be a player in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

SuperDraft: D Austin Berry (1-9).

Canadian Match-Ups: Mar. 17 at Montreal, Apr. 21 at Toronto, Jul. 14 vs. Vancouver, Jul. 21 at Toronto, Aug. 4 vs. Toronto, Sep. 15 vs. Montreal.

Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew
Profile
2011: 4th - Eastern Conference (13-13-8). Qualified for Wild Card.
Additions: D Carlos Mendes (Re-Entry: New York), M Milovan Mirosevic (Int'l), Olman Vargas (Int'l).
Subtractions: F Andres Mendoza (released), M Kevin Burns (declined), M Emmanuel Ekpo (not re-signed), M Robbie Rogers (signed - Leeds), D Dejan Rusmir (signed in Cyprus), F Josh Gardner (expansion draft), Jeff Cunningham (declined), M Kevin Burns (declined).
2012 Outlook
A season that started brilliantly for the Columbus Crew and saw them lead the Eastern Conference in the middle of the season evaporated as they faded away towards the end of the season and eventually fell at the hands of the Colorado Rapids in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. While avoiding injuries will be key for every team in the league, losing both Tony Tchani and Danny O’Rourke for significant portions of last season left them short in the middle of the field. Their health should instantly make the Crew better in 2012 as well as the signing of International forward Milovan Mirosevic to bolster the attack. With no designated player on the roster the Crew will have the ability to dramatically improve their roster at any point during the season.

SuperDraft: F Ethan Finlay (1-10).

Canadian Match-Ups: Mar. 24 vs. Montreal, Mar. 31 at Toronto, Apr. 28 vs. Vancouver, Jul. 8 at Montreal, Aug. 11 vs. Toronto, Sep. 1 vs. Montreal, Oct. 28 vs. Toronto.

DC United

DC United
Profile
2011: 7th - Eastern Conference (9-13-12). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
Additions: M Danny Cruz (trade - Houston), D Emiliano Dudar (Int'l), D Robbie Russell (trade - RSL), F Hamdi Salihi (Int'l), F Maicon Santos (signed), Marcelo Saragosa (signed).
Subtractions: D Marc Burch (declined), D Jed Zayner (declined), DM Clyde Simms (declined), M Santino Quaranta (retired), D Joseph Ngwenya (declined), F Blake Brettschneider (waived).
2012 Outlook
Reigning MVP and Canadian International Dwayne De Rosario grabbed the headlines for DC United last year but the contributions of many of their young players also helped keep them alive in a playoff chase that ultimately came up short. While other teams in the league will struggle with depth that should not be a problem for DC United. They might not overwhelm teams beyond De Rosario but they will be relentless and tough to put away for even the best teams in the league. That could be the element that helps them outlast everyone else over the course of the season.

SuperDraft: M Nick DeLeon (1-7).

Canadian Match-Ups: Mar. 24 at Vancouver, Apr. 18 vs. Montreal, May 5 at Toronto, May 19 vs. Toronto, Jun. 30 vs. Montreal, Aug. 25 at Montreal, Oct. 6 at Toronto.

Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo
Profile
2011: 2nd - Eastern Conference (12-9-13). MLS Cup Finalist.
Additions: F Macoumba Kandji (trade - Colorado), M Nathan Sturgis (trade - Toronto), F Brian Ching (reacquired - Montreal); G Erich Marscheider (waivers).
Subtractions: M Danny Cruz (trade - DC), D Eddie Robinson (declined), F Jason Garey (declined), M Francisco Navas (waived), D Hunter Freeman (declined) , F Carlo Costly (declined).

2012 Outlook
If peaking at the right time is one of the most important keys to a season the Dynamo came one game short of making that a reality last season. After a tough mid-season stretch, Houston won nine straight games to earn their way into the final where they were defeated by the Los Angeles Galaxy. Fan favourite Brian Ching was selected by the Montreal Impact in the expansion draft but a pre-season trade has seen the veteran team captain return to the fold for another run at the title. The health of Brad Davis, who was hurt in the Eastern Conference championship last season, will be the key to the Dynamo offence. He pushed Galaxy’s David Beckham for the assist lead last year and will need to do that again this year for the Dynamo to make noise once again.

SuperDraft: F Colin Rolfe (1-18).

Canadian Match-Ups: Jun. 10 at Vancouver, Jun. 20 vs. Toronto, Jun. 23 at Montreal, Jul. 21 vs. Montreal, Jul. 28 at Toronto, Aug. 25 vs. Toronto, Oct. 6 vs. Montreal.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City
Profile
2011: 1st in Eastern Conference (13-9-12). Eastern Conference Finalist.
Additions: M Bobby Convey (trade - San Jose), M Paulo Nagamura (trade - Chivas), M Jacob Peterson (Re-entry: San Jose), M Michael Thomas (signed).
Subtractions: M Craig Rocastle (waived), M Jeferson (waived), M Davy Arnaud (trade - Montreal), M Milos Stojcev (waived), F Omar Bravo (signed in Mexico), D Scott Lorenz (waived).
2012 Outlook
In an attempt to reinvent themselves last year the Kansas City Wizards became Sporting Kansas City and moved into Livestrong Sporting Park, one of the best soccer stadiums in the league. They then went on to finish first in the Eastern Conference and advance to the final four before being eliminated by the Dynamo. Overcoming a 1-5-1 start showed the league the quality of the Kansas City side and earned them season-long momentum they can carry into this season. Much like the Dynamo, Kansas City lost a player to Montreal in the expansion draft, in this case Seth Sinovic, and then reacquired him in a trade. Leadership could be an issue for their young squad but if they can find it they will be a player in the East.

SuperDraft: F Dom Dwyer (1-16).

Canadian Match-Ups: Apr. 18 at Vancouver, May 5 vs. Montreal, Jun. 16 vs. Toronto, Jul. 4 at Montreal, Aug. 18 at Toronto, Sep. 1 vs. Toronto, Sep. 22 at Montreal.

New England Revolution

New England Revolution
Profile
2011: 9th in Eastern Conference (5-16-13). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
Additions: M Clyde Simms (Re-Entry: DC), F Fernando Cardenas (Int'l), D John Lozano (Int'l), D Danleigh Borman (Re-entry: Toronto), F Nate Jaqua (Re-Entry: Seattle).
Subtractions: F Mkhokheli Dube (signed with Chicago), F Rajko Lekic (signed in Denmark), F Aalan Koger (waived), D Pat Phelan (declined), D Ryan Cochrane (declined), F Saer Sene (Int'l).
2012 Outlook
There is nowhere to go but up for the Revolution. They finished last in the Eastern Conference and tied for the lowest amount of points in the entire league in 2011 in a season that was bad from start to finish. Head Coach Steve Nicol who led them to four MLS Cup finals in his 10 years in charge has been replaced by former Revolution defender Jay Heaps. The key to their rebuild will be last season’s major pick up - midfielder Benny Feilhaber - who will be counted on to marshal the offence from the middle of the field. The Revolution are early in their rebuilding phase and could find themselves on the rough end of a lot of results this season.

SuperDraft: M Kelyn Rowe (1-3).

Canadian Match-Ups: May 12 vs. Vancouver, Jun. 23 at Toronto, Jul. 14 vs. Toronto, Jul. 18 at Montreal, Aug. 12 vs. Montreal, Oct. 27 at Montreal.

New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls
Profile
2011: 5th - Eastern Conference (10-8-16). West Semifinalist (Wild Card).
Additions: G Jeremy Vuolo (Int'l), D Jonathan Borrajo (Int'l), D Wilman Conde (Int'l), Markus Holgersson (Int'l), M Victor Palsson (Int'l), F Kenny Cooper (trade - Portland).
Subtractions: D Carlos Mendes (declined), G Frank Rost (signed), G Bouna Coundoul (declined), D Chris Albright (declined), D Tim Ream (transfer, EPL), M Stephane Auvray (declined), M Carl Robinson (retired).
2012 Outlook
An expensive lineup and high pre-season expectations were not a good combination for the New York Red Bulls last season. The Red Bulls added both Thierry Henry and Dwayne De Rosario last season to power their offence but had traded De Rosario before the season ended. They crashed out of the playoffs in the second round and will be looking to fulfill their potential this season. A draft day trade for striker Kenny Cooper could be exactly what they need to reach the lofty levels they will be expected to perform at again this year. If the Red Bulls are forced to rely too heavily on their depth they could find themselves coming up short.

SuperDraft: G Ryan Meara (2-31).

Canadian Match-Ups: Mar. 31 vs. Montreal, May 19 at Montreal, Jun. 20 at Vancouver, Jun. 30 at Toronto, Jul. 28 at Montreal, Sep. 29 vs. Toronto.

Philadelphia Union

New York Red Bulls
Profile
2011: 3rd in Eastern Conference (11-8-15). Eastern Semifinalist.
Additions: D Chris Albright (signed), M Gabriel Gomez (Int'l), D Porfirio Lopez (Int'l), F Josue Martinez (Int'l), F Lionard Pajoy (Int'l), G Chase Harrison (signed).
Subtractions: G Faryd Mondragon (signed), Veljko Paunovic (retired), M Stefani Miglioranzi (declined), F Sebastien Le Toux (trade - Vancouver), M Kyle Nakazawa (trade - LA), M M Justin Mapp (expansion draft).
2012 Outlook
The goal for 2012 has to be to continue the path of improvement they’ve been on since their expansion season three years ago. After a tough first year they made their first playoff appearance last year giving their fans a taste of what could be in store for the future. Sébastien Le Toux incredibly played every minute of every game last season and his 11 goals were integral in their second season success. With him now playing for Vancouver his tireless work ethic will be missed in the lineup. With only four players above 27 years of age, they are going to ride young energetic legs and hope that a lack of experience doesn’t catch up to them all year.

SuperDraft: F Chandler Hoffman (1-13).

Canadian Match-Ups: Mar. 31 vs. Vancouver, May 26 at Toronto, Jul. 8 vs. Toronto, Jul. 14 vs. Montreal, Aug. 4 at Montreal, Sep. 15 at Toronto.


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