MLS

Eastern Conference

Conference Champions: Houston Dynamo

Get primed for the 2013 MLS season with a look at the Eastern Conference. TSN Soccer Editor Shane McNeil takes you through the Conference's U.S. clubs, taking a look at what the teams have done over the off-season, what they need to do to succeed and when they will be coming to visit your MLS club.

Chicago Fire

2012: 4th - Eastern Conference (17-11-6). Qualified for Knockout.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Dilly Duka (Trade - Columbus), M Brendan King (signing), M Jeff Larentowicz (Trade - Colorado), M Joel Lindpere (Trade - New York), F Maicon Santos (Re-Entry Draft).
Subtractions: M Alvaro Fernandez (Loaned), F Guillermo Franco (Option Declined), GK Jay Nolly (Option declined), F Dominic Oduro (Trade - Columbus) , M Pavel Pardo (Retired), F Federico Puppo (Loaned), D Tony Walls (Waived)
SuperDraft: M Yazid Atouba (2-30).

Season Outlook

Catching Fire

Chicago saw vast improvement in 2012 only to fall short in the playoffs. Will 2013 see the team continue its upward climb?

The Fire can take a lot of positives away from their 2012 campaign, having almost doubled their win total from the previous year and tying for the third-most points in the league.

Unfortunately, the team drew the defending Eastern Champion Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup Knockout Round, becoming the first of three teams they upset en route to a second straight date with the Galaxy.

The team will be well positioned for another strong season with core players like Chris Rolfe, Marco Pappa, Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko returning.

The team could also thrive if defender Austin Berry is able to build upon his MLS Rookie of the Year season.

The additions of experienced players like Maicon Santos, Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz should strengthen the team's offence, which had the second-lowest goal differential amongst teams that qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs.

Canadian Content

The Fire get their first taste of Canadian opposition with a visit to Montreal to face the Impact.

Apr. 27 4pm et Fire @ Impact
Canadian match-ups
Jul. 14 @ VAN 7pm et
Jul. 21 @ TOR 7:30pm et
Aug. 10 vs MTL 7:30pm et
Sep. 11 @ TOR 7:30pm et

Columbus Crew

2012: 6th - Eastern Conference (15-12-7). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: F Dominic Oduro (Trade - Chicago), D Tyson Wahl (Signing).
Subtractions: D Rich Balchan (Option declined), M Chris Birchall (Option declined), M Dilly Duka (Trade - Chicago), M Cole Grossman (Option declined), F Tommy Heinemann (Option declined), GK William Hesmer (Option declined), D Julius James (Option declined), D Carlos Mendes (Free Agent), D Sebastian Miranda (Option declined), F Olman Vargas (Option declined), D Nemanja Vukovic (Option declined).
Superdraft: F Ryan Finley (1-9).

Season Outlook

Southern Infusion

The Crew saw the difference top talent can make in 2012 with the addition of Federico Higuain.

Last season marked the first time in five years that the Crew failed to make the MLS Cup playoffs.

It's been a steady decline since they won the 2008 crown and last season saw them on the outside looking in.

The key to turning it around in 2013 could be a better start. The Crew won just six of its first 17 games last season before going on a run of 10 games where they registered just one loss.

The mid-season acquisition of Federico Higuain was an inspired move last season, though, as the Argentine (and older brother of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo) heaped in five goals and seven assists in just 13 appearances.

A full year from the 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year could be the difference between playing soccer in November and another early exit.

Canadian Content

The Crew get their Canadian schedule underway early with a Mar. 9 visit to Vancouver.

Mar. 9 7:30pm et Crew @ Whitecaps
Canadian match-ups
Apr. 13 @ MTL 2pm et
May 18 @ TOR 5pm et
Jun. 15 vs MTL 7:30pm et
Jul. 27 @ TOR 2pm et

D.C. United

2012: 2nd - Eastern Conference (17-10-7). Conference Finalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M/F Syamsir Alam (Loan), F Rafael (Loan), D James Riley (Trade - Chivas USA), F Carlos Ruiz (Allocation), M John Thorrington (Re-Entry Draft), F Casey Townsend (Trade - Chivas USA).
Subtractions: M Branko Boskovic (Deal terminated), D Mike Chabala (Option declined), D Emiliano Dudar (Option declined), M Stephen King (Option declined), M/D Andy Najar (Transfer), F Maicon Santos (Option declined), F Long Tan (Waived).
Superdraft: D Taylor Kemp (1-17).

Season Outlook

Forgot About D-Ro?

United showed last year they can score, now add an extra half-season out of De Rosario.

It's a testament to the strength of United's roster that the team finished second in the eastern Conference despite getting just a half-season's work out of 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario.

The team hit their stride in Spring, posting an unbeaten record in April and would finish the regular season on a scorching seven-game unbeaten run but the team would fall victim to the streaking Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Final.

United is hoping to get more out of 2012 fifth-overall pick Casey Townsend than Chivas USA did after acquiring the forward for a second-rounder and playing him alongside a healed De Rosario could pay large dividends for the East's second-highest scoring club.

D.C. will be tested right off the opening kick-off, with five of its first six matches coming against teams that made the playoffs last season, including a visit to Houston in their season opener.

Canadian Content

United won't get a taste of Canadian opposition until Toronto visits in June.

Jun. 15 7pm et United vs Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Jun. 29 vs VAN 7pm et
Aug. 3 vs MTL 7pm et
Aug. 17 @ MTL 7pm et
Sep. 28 @ TOR 1pm et

Houston Dynamo

2012: 5th - Eastern Conference (14-9-11). MLS Cup Finalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: D Eric Brunner (Trade - Portland), F Omar Cummings (Trade - Colorado), M Andrew Driver (Loan).
Subtractions: M Colin Clark (Free Agent), D Andre Hainault (Free Agent), M Josue Soto (Waived), M Je-Vaughn Watson (Trade - FC Dallas).
Superdraft: F Jason Johnson (1-13).

Season Outlook

Finals Countdown

Dynamo has made back-to-back trips to the MLS Cup but have been beat both times by the Galaxy. With Beckham gone is it their time?

The Dynamo saw an unbelievable MLS Cup playoff run end in a startlingly familiar manner last season.

After sneaking into the playoffs by one single point over sixth-place Columbus, the Dynamo went on a run to the MLS Cup by playing excellent at home and doing enough on the road to get one round further.

While they were once again bested by the L.A. Galaxy in the end, veterans like Calen Carr and Brian Ching supported a star-making run by 23-year-old Will Bruin to cap another successful season for Houston and its fans.

The team will likely miss the presence of Canadian fullback Andre Hainault in 2013 (he moved overseas to play in Scotland), the acquisition of Eric Brunner from Portland could help fill the void on the back line.

Having made the MLS Cup Playoffs in all but one of their seven seasons in the league, including four appearances in the Final itself, the Dynamo are a good bet to remain a force in the East this season.

Canadian Content

The Dynamo get the Whitecaps in just their second home date of the season.

Mar. 23 8:30pm et Dynamo vs Whitecaps
Canadian match-ups
Apr. 20 @ TOR 4pm et
Jun. 19 @ MTL 8pm et
Jun. 22 vs TOR 9pm et
Aug. 24 @ MTL 7pm et

New England Revolution

2012: 9th in Eastern Conference (9-17-8). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: F Chad Barrett (Re-Entry Draft), M Kalifa Cisse (Free transfer), M Andy Dorman (Signing), D Bilal Duckett (Signing), D Hunter Freeman (Re-Entry Draft), D Jose Gonçalves (Loan), F Matt Horth (signing).
Subtractions: F Blake Brettschneider (Option declined), M Fernando Cardenas (Option declined), M Benny Feilhaber (Trade - KC), M Blair Gavin (Option declined), D Flo Lechner (Option declined), GK Tim Murray (Option declined), M Alec Purdie (Option declined), M Michael Roach (Option declined).
Superdraft: D Andrew Farrell (1-1).

Season Outlook

Full Revolution

The Revs have gone from perennial MLS Cup contender to frequent playoff bystander. Will things turn around in 2013?

Things could have been worse for the Revs in 2012. The team finished ninth in the East for a second straight year, but was at least able to up its win total by four to nine on the campaign.

The silver lining was the terrible year that Toronto FC put together that kept them out of the Eastern cellar.

Experience and pedigree were the hallmarks of the New England off-season strategy adding proven scorer Chad Barrett as well as a pair with UK experience in Welsh forward Andy Dorman and Malian defender Kalifa Cisse.

The most impact may have come on the day of the SuperDraft, however, when the Revs swapped picks with Toronto to take Louisville fullback Andrew Farrell - the consensus best player available - first overall.

The Revs will need to find a way to win on the road, though, as the team posted a miserable 2-13-2 record away from Foxborough last year. Bad news for a team that is on the road for four of its first six in 2013.

Canadian Content

The Revolution have their first Canadian tilt at home against Toronto FC.

May 25 7:30pm et Revolution vs Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Jun. 15 @ VAN 10pm et
Aug. 4 vs TOR 7:30pm et
Aug. 30 @ TOR 7pm et
Oct. 12 @ MTL 2:30pm et

New York Red Bulls

2012: 3rd - Eastern Conference (10-8-16). Eastern Semifinalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Eric Alexander (Trade - Portland), F Fabian Espindola (Trade - Salt Lake), M Ruben Izquierdo (Signing), D Kosuke Kimura (Trade - Portland), F Josue Martinez (Trade - Philadelphia), D Jamison Olave (Trade - Real Salt Lake), M Juninho Pernambucano (Free transfer), M Jonny Steele (First right of refusal - Real Salt Lake).
Subtractions: F Jose Angulo (Option declined), F Jhonny Arteaga (Option declined), D Jonathan Borrajo (Option declined), D Wilman Conde (Terminated), F Kenny Cooper (Trade - FC Dallas), GK Bill Gaudette (Option declined), F Corey Hertzog (Option declined), D Stephen Keel (Option declined), M Sebastien Le Toux (Trade - PHI), M Joel Lindpere (Trade - CHI), D Rafa Marquez (Released), M Victor Palsson (Terminated), D Tyler Ruthven (Option declined), M Jan Gunnar Solli (Option declined), M Teemu Tainio (Option declined), GK Jeremy Vuolo (Option declined).
Superdraft: M Ian Christianson (2-22).

Season Outlook

Hardware Upgrade

Thierry Henry is still seeking an MLS Cup as he enters his fourth season stateside.

Filling the net is not a problem for the Bulls.

Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry proved elite producers in the MLS, both finishing in the top five of the goals table and scoring more combined goals than the entire Chivas USA roster. .

They were a large factor behind the team's third place showing in the East last year.

While Cooper is gone, the New York attack will still be dangerous with a full year out of Australian international Tim Cahill.

The problem for the Bulls is keeping the goals out, having conceded more goals than all but one other playoff-qualifying team.

The team added some back-line strength with Japanese full-back Kosuke Kimura and Colombia's Jamison Olave and they'll need to come up big if the team wants to do better than one-and-done in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Canadian Content

The Red Bulls will cross the border before the season is a month old.

Mar. 23 4:30pm et Red Bulls @ Impact
Canadian match-ups
Apr. 27 @ TOR 2pm et
May 8 vs MTL 7:30pm et
Jun. 1 vs VAN 7pm et
Jul. 13 vs MTL 7pm et

Philadelphia Union

2012: 8th in Eastern Conference (10-18-6). Did not qualify for playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: F Conor Casey (Re-Entry Draft), F/M Sebastien Le Toux (Trade - New York), D Jeff Parke (Trade - Seattle), F Aaron Wheeler (Transfer).
Subtractions: M Gabriel Gomez (Option declined), GK Chase Harrison (Option declined), D Porfirio Lopez (Option declined), F Josue Martinez (Trade - New York), M Zach Pfeffer (Loan), D Damani Richards (Signing), F Krystian Witkowski (Option declined).
Superdraft: F Don Anding (2-26).

Season Outlook

Re-Union

Philly will look to pick up the pieces after a 2012 to forget.

The history books will show a drop from third in the East in 2011 to eighth in 2012 but off the field the Union's third campaign was much worse than that.

Inaugural head coach Piotr Nowak was dismissed mid-season not just for poor on-field results but also - according to team officials - for breaching team rules and berating employees.

Once John Hackworth took over, the season was already out of hand. But the losses didn't stop under his tenure.

The Union was able to right one wrong of the Nowak era, as they reacquired all-time leading scorer Sebastien Le Toux from New York. To avoid another fight for the Eastern cellar the team will need to avoid the types of skids they endured last season, going six without a win in the spring and a staggering eight without through August and September (even drawing 2012 cellar-dwellers like New England and Toronto).

It's a long way to go for Philly to get back into contention, but at the very least, 2013 offers the team a chance to forget last year and move on.

Canadian Content

The Union welcomes Toronto FC in April for its first Canadian test.

Apr. 13 4pm et Union vs Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
May 25 @ MTL 7pm et
Jun. 1 @ TOR 6pm et
Jul. 27 @ VAN 7pm et
Aug. 31 vs MTL 7:30pm et

Sporting Kansas City

2012: 1st in Eastern Conference (18-7-9). Eastern Conference Semifinalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: F Claudio Bieler (Transfer), M Benny Feilhaber (Trade - New England), D Josh Gardner (Trade - Montreal), D Ike Opara (Trade - San Jose), D Yann Songo'o (Signing).
Subtractions: D Korede Aiyegbuse (Option declined), M Julio Cesar (Option declined), M Roger Espinoza (Transfer), D Michael Harrington (Traded - Portland), D Cyprian Hedrick (Option declined), D Neven Markovic (Option declined), M Luke Sassano (Option declined), D/M Konrad Warzycha (Option declined).
Superdraft: M Mikey Lopez (1-14).

Season Outlook

Not in Kansas

Sporting KC's defence could well go from stingy to outright impenetrable with its new additions.

Things were supposed to end differently for Sporting Kansas City last season. They finished atop the Eastern Conference by a comfortable five points but had the misfortune of drawing an experienced and thriving Houston team in the semis.

So, how did the league's stingiest club react to a shortened post-season? They went out and bulked up their defence, of course.

While the likes of Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Aurelien Collin return, the team brought in young fullbacks Ike Opara and Yann Songo'o as well as grabbing Josh Gardner from Montreal. .

If the a crowded back-line doesn't do the trick, reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Nielsen just might.

Defence-first may not be the sexiest brand of football, but KC boasts some of the league's most rabid fans, who will take the wins any way they can get them.

Canadian Content

Sporting KC gets the pleasure of being Toronto FC's first guests in 2013.

Mar. 9 1:30pm et Sporting KC @ Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Mar. 30 vs MTL 8:30pm et
Jun. 1 vs MTL 8:30pm et
Jul.3 vs VAN 8:30pm et
Jul. 27 @ MTL 7pm et



Podcasts

TSN FC with Luke Wileman, Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - September 30

Luke, Jason and KJ recap a huge weekend for Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps, plus talk Barclay's Premier League and Chelsea's form.

TSN FC with Luke Wileman, Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - September 23

Luke, Jason & Kristian round up the Barclay's Premier League, Manchester United's struggles, plus MLS talk as TFC & Vancouver push for the playoffs.

TSN 690: oranges at halftime: Frank Klopas: Sept. 18

Following Wednesday night's Champions League win, we catch up with the Impact's Head Coach


More Podcasts

TSN TweetBox
© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television