MLS

Western Conference

Conference Champions: Los Angeles Galaxy

Get primed for the 2013 MLS season with a look at the Western Conference. TSN Soccer Editor Ken Rodney 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.

Chivas USA

2012: 9th - Western Conference (7-18-9). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Eric Avila (Trade - Colorado), D Steve Purdy, D Carlos Borja, M Edgar Mejía (On Loan), F Giovani Casillas (On Loan), D Mario de Luna (On Loan)
Subtractions: F Juan Pablo Angel (Free Agent), M Peter Vagenas (Free Agent), D Danny Califf (Option Declined), F Alejandro Moreno (Option Declined), M Nick LaBrocca (Trade - Colorado), F Casey Townsend (Trade - D.C. United), M Ben Zemanski (Trade - Portland), D James Riley (Trade - D.C. United), M Paolo Cardozo (Option Declined), M Ryan Smith (Option Declined), D John Valencia (Option Declined), F Cesar Romero (Waived), M Shalrie Joseph (Trade - Seattle)
SuperDraft: M Carlos Alvarez (1-2).

Season Outlook

Shadow Boxing

A tough 2012 season for Los Angeles' second MLS team has brought about more changes on the field and the bench. Are they finally headed in the right direction?

As evidenced by their list of player additions and subtractions this season, change is the only constant for Chivas USA.

Jose Luis Sanchez Sola has replaced Robin Fraser and brings a new hope to L.A.'s other MLS franchise.

With a new man at the helm, last year's last place Western Conference team is starting over and this time without Juan Pablo Angel and Alejandro Moreno to provide offence.

Striker Juan Agudelo will have to fill the void and by extension the net if Chivas USA is going to make any noise this season.

Lofty expectations will also be placed on the shoulders of Carlos Alvarez, who was selected second in the SuperDraft, they are hoping he is the foundation of a long term build and can finally bring some stability to the squad.

Chivas USA has finished bottom or second-last in the table in each of the last three seasons, they will have to play above their skills to avoid that fate again in 2013.

Canadian Content

Chivas USA gets the Canadian schedule underway in late March when they welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Mar. 30 - 7:30pm pt Chivas USA vs. Whitecaps
Canadian match-ups
Jun. 19 @ VAN 10pm et/7pm pt
Jul. 7 @ MTL 7pm et/4pm pt
Jul. 17 vs TOR 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt
Sep. 1 @ VAN 7pm et/4pm pt

Colorado Rapids

2012: 7th - Western Conference (11-19-4). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M/F Atiba Harris (Trade - Vancouver), M Eric Avila (Re-Entry Draft), F Edson Buddle (Trade - Los Angeles Galaxy), M Nathan Sturgis (Trade - Houston), D Diego Calderon, F Kevin Harbottle, M Nick LaBrocca (Trade - Chivas USA), F Charles Eloundou (Weighted Lottery), GK Clint Irwin.
Subtractions: F Conor Casey (Option Declined), M Edu, GK Ian Joyce (Option Declined), D Tyrone Marshall (Free Agent)M Joseph Nane (Option Declined), D Scott Palguta (Free Agent), D Tyson Wahl (Option Declined)D Luis Zapata (Option Declined), D Hunter Freeman (Option Declined), F Omar Cummings (Trade - Houston), M Jeff Larentowicz (Trade - Chicago), M Eric Avila (Trade - Chivas USA).
Superdraft: D DeShorn Brown (1-6).

Season Outlook

Rocky Mountain High

Make-or-break year for the Rapids as they try to gain on the playoff teams and avoid slipping closer to the bottom of the standings.

Year two of the Oscar Pareja era will see the manager once again trying to get his team back to the form they had in 2010 when they captured the MLS Cup.

Edson Buddle is going to be counted on as the key man in attack for the Rapids after having his role significantly reduced before being traded by the Los Angeles Galaxy, he could have just the right amount of motivation to push this team back into the playoff picture.

 

The Rapids conceded the third-most goals in the Conference last season and their struggles can be traced right to the failings of the backline, if they can adjust to Pareja's formation changes and protect the net better they should have enough youth and skill going forward to test last season's playoff teams.

Look for new man Nick LaBrocca to also provide some goal scoring from the attacking midfield position.

Canadian Content

The Rapids face their first Canadian opponent when they welcome Toronto for a May. 4 contest.

May. 4 - 6pm pt Rapids vs. Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Jun. 29 @ MTL 7pm et/4pm pt
Aug 17 vs VAN 9pm et/6pm pt
Oct. 19 vs VAN 6pm et/3pm pt
Oct. 27 @ VAN 8pm et/5pm pt

FC Dallas

2012: 6th - Western Conference (9-13-12). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Peter Luccin, D Stephen Keel (Re-Entry Draft), F Pipico (Transfer), GK Raul Fernandez, F Eric Hassli (Trade - Toronto), F Kenny Cooper (Trade - New York), M Je-Vaughn Watson (Trade - Houston), D Michel
Subtractions: M Bryan Leyva (Option Declined), M Bruno Guarda (Option Declined), F Ruben Luna (Option Declined), F Matias Jara (Option Declined), GK Kevin Hartman (Free Agent), M Julian de Guzman (Free Agent), F Scott Sealy (Option Declined), D Moises Hernandez (Loaned), M Ricardo Villar (Waived) M James Marcelin (Waived), M Brek Shea (Transfer), F Pipico (Waived)
Superdraft: D Walker Zimmerman (1-7).

Season Outlook

Ready To Charge

Offensive additions could be the key to a turnaround season for FC Dallas.

If you like explosive offensive firepower, this just might be the team for you.

The additions of both Kenny Cooper from New York Red Bulls and Eric Hassli from Toronto FC should be enough to allow FC Dallas to light up the scoreboard all season.

However their biggest gain might be the health of David Ferreira, who played in 17 games last season but will be looking for a full season of action in 2013.

The squad was solid if not spectacular in defence last season so if they can replicate that performance and get the offence they expect out of the new men in the starting XI, this could see them right into the title picture in the conference.

Schellas Hyndman is in his sixth season on the touchline for Dallas and that kind of stability should allow this roster to gel quickly.

Canadian Content

FC Dallas faces Canadian opposition for the first time when they visit Toronto in April.

Apr. 6 - Noon pt FC Dallas @ Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Apr. 20 vs VAN 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt
Apr. 27 @ VAN 6pm et/3pm pt
Jul. 20 @ MTL 7pm et/4pm pt
Sep. 7 vs VAN 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt

Los Angeles Galaxy

2012: 4th - Western Conference (16-12-6). MLS Cup Champion.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Colin Clark (Re-Entry Draft), GK Carlo Cudicini, M Juninho (Transfer).
Subtractions: D Andrew Boyens (Option Declined), D Bryan Jordan (Option Declined), M Kyle Nakazawa (Option Declined), F Pat Noonan (Option Declined), F Chad Barrett (Option Declined), M Christian Wilhelmsson (Option Declined), M David Beckham (Option Declined), F Edson Buddle (trade - Colorado), GK Josh Saunders (Free Agent)
Superdraft: F Charlie Rugg (1-19).

Season Outlook

Hollywood Story

The two-time defending champions said goodbye to David Beckham after 2012. Thankfully they have many leaders to take them forward in 2013.

David Beckham arrived in the MLS and to the Los Angeles Galaxy with much fanfare and lofty expectations. After five-and-a-half seasons he left as a two-time MLS Cup champion.

Moving on without him the Galaxy will not lack for veteran leadership as Robbie Keane will still be in the lineup and long-time captain Landon Donovan has also announced that he will return after much speculation that he was also ready to put an end to his days in the league.

Big names or not, the question is can this team make history and become the first to win three straight championships?

They showed last season that even a slow start and a mid-table finish would not be enough to keep them from lifting the big trophy and in the absence of the former England captain they are now fielding an experienced side that will feel they once again have something to prove.

Look for them to once again be playing late into the playoffs.

Canadian Content

The Galaxy will face Canadian competition early in the season when they visit Toronto in March.

Mar. 30 - 11am pt Galaxy @ Toronto FC
Canadian match-ups
Apr. 6 vs MTL 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt
May 11 @ VAN 7pm et/4pm pt
Jul. 20 vs VAN 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt
Aug. 24 @ VAN 9pm et/6pm pt

Portland Timbers

2012: 8th in Western Conference (8-16-10). Did not qualify for Playoffs.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: D Michael Harrington (Trade - Sporting KC), M Will Johnson (Trade - Real Salt Lake), F Ryan Johnson (Trade - Toronto), GK Milos Kocic (Trade - Toronto), D/M Mobi Fehr (Weighted Lottery), M Diego Valeri (On Loan), D Ryan Miller (Transfer), M Ben Zemanski (Trade - Chivas USA), M Michael Nanchoff (Trade - Vancouver), D Mikael Silvestre.
Subtractions: M Freddie Braun (Option Declined), M Charles Renken (Option Declined), D Ian Hogg (Option Declined), D Kosuke Kimura (trade - New York), D Eric Brunner (trade - Houston) M Lovel Palmer (Option Declined), D Steve Purdy (Option Declined), D Steve Smith (Option Declined), GK Joe Bendik (Trade - Toronto), F Robbie Findley (Trade - Real Salt Lake), F Mike Fucito (Trade - San Jose), F Kris Boyd (Contract Terminated), M Eric Alexander (Trade - New York)
Superdraft: D Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (2-34).

Season Outlook

Northwest Passage

Caleb Porter takes over as head coach in Portland and will hope to bring the same success he found in NCAA to the MLS.

Portland Timbers scored the second least amount of goals in 2012 so it's not hard to see where they have to start making improvements if they hope to climb the Western Conference standings. New head coach Caleb Porter makes the jump from coaching a very successful Akron Zips program in the NCAA and he has already made his mark on the squad by bolstering it with a lot of young talent.

Ryan Johnson, who came over from Toronto FC, should help in the offensive regard but they will be leaning on Danny Mwanga, Darlington Nagbe and Jose Valencia, three young men with all the talent to be explosive but none of the experience.

Tough to see Portland making the move up the standings when they are going to spend a lot of the season just trying to figure out how the pieces fit together.

Instead this could be the transition season that allows them to build to something bigger in the future.

Canadian Content

The Timbers have their first Canadian tilt at home against Montreal.

Mar 9 - 7:30pm pt Timbers vs Impact
Canadian match-ups
May. 18 @ VAN 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt
Aug. 3 vs VAN 11pm et/8pm pt
Sep. 7 vs TOR 11pm et/8pm pt
Oct. 6 @ VAN 8pm et/5pm pt

Real Salt Lake

2012: 2nd - Western Conference (17-11-6). Western Semifinalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Cole Grossman (Waiver Draft), M Aaron Maund (Trade - Toronto FC), M Lovel Palmer (Re-Entry Draft), F Robbie Findley (trade - Portland), F Joao Plata (Trade - Toronto) F Olmes García (Transfer), GK Josh Saunders, M Khari Stephenson.
Subtractions: M Nico Muniz (Option Declined), GK Kyle Reynish (Option Declined), M Jonny Steele (Option Declined), F Paulo Jr. (Option Declined), F Emiliano Bonfigli (Option Declined), F Justin Braun (Trade - Toronto), D Jamison Olave (Traded - New York), F Fabian Espíndola (Trade - New York), M Will Johnson (Trade- Portland)
Superdraft: M John Stertzer (1-12).

Season Outlook

The Real Deal

Regular season success was dashed with an early playoff exit last year. Will this be the season Real Salt Lake makes a deeper run into the playoffs?

 

Robbie Findley is back for his second stint with Real Salt Lake and will hope to recapture the chemistry he had with forward Alvaro Saborio as they will be counted on to power the attack.

The story in Utah this season will be if the team can produce after unloading a few long term members of the roster.

They traded both Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave for allocation money opening up a few holes in the lineup.

They were very solid last season finishing second in the conference but could not replicate that in the playoffs as they were eliminated at the first hurdle by Seattle Sounders.

Lots will be expected by the fans of Real Salt Lake this season but this team might need some time before it can recapture the form of 2012.

Expect a playoff-level performance from Real Salt Lake this season even if it does come with another early exit from the second season.

Canadian Content

Real Salt Lake will head to Vancouver for their first Canadian match-up in April.

Apr. 13 - 1pm pt Real Salt Lake @ Whitecaps
Canadian match-ups
May 4. 13 vs VAN 4pm et/1pm pt
May 11 @ MTL 2pm et/11am pt
Jun. 29 @ TOR 1pm et/11am pt
Jul. 13 @ VAN 7pm et/4pm pt

San Jose Earthquakes

2012: 1st in Western Conference (19-6-9). Western Semifinalist, Supporters' Shield.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: D Dan Gargan (Re-Entry Draft), D Ty Harden (Re-Entry Draft), D Bryan Jordan (Re-Entry Draft), F Mike Fucito (Trade from Portland), D Peter McGlynn (Supplemental Draft), D Nana Attakora (transfer)
Subtractions: D Tim Ward (Option Declined), D/M Joey Gjertsen (Option Declined), M Khari Stephenson (Option Declined), D Ike Opara (trade - Sporting KC)
Superdraft: D Tommy Muller (1-25).

Season Outlook

On Steady Ground

Last season's best regular season team returns almost the exact same roster and hopes to turn the Supporters' Shield into the MLS Cup.

2012 was a season of overachieving that held so much promise for San Jose Earthquakes.

They finished the regular season with the best record in the MLS earning the Supporters Shield only to get bounced in their first playoff game by eventual-champions Los Angeles Galaxy.

They are heading into 2013 with basically the same roster and they will hope to provide a similar brand of exciting and attacking football.

The additions they have made this season are basically all on defence as their backline was the reason they were forced into the many comeback victories they eventually became known for as the season progressed.

The experience gained last season will serve this team well and in a Conference where many teams will be trying to gel early, the stability they will enjoy from last season could earn them a strong early start to the season.

Canadian Content

Earthquakes only make one trip to Canada on the 2013 schedule.

Apr. 6 - 7:30pm pt Earthquakes vs Whitecaps
Canadian match-ups
May 4 vs MTL 4pm et/1pm pt
May 8 vs TOR 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt
Aug. 10 @ VAN 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt
Sep. 14 vs VAN 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt

Seattle Sounders

2012: 3rd in Western Conference (15-8-11). Western Conference Finalist.
WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Lamar Neagle (trade - Montreal), M Shalrie Joseph (trade - Chivas USA), D Djimi Traore.
Subtractions: GK Andrew Weber (Option Declined), F O'Brian White (Option Declined), D/M Mike Seamon (Option Declined) D Jeff Parke (Trade - Philadelphia), F Fredy Montero (loaned).
Superdraft: F Eriq Zavaleta (1-10).

Season Outlook

Sounds Of Success

Last season was another step forward for the Sounders, who will look to make a giant leap in 2013.

After earning the franchise's first playoff victory, the Sounders were defeated in the Western Conference Final by the champion Galaxy.

Since entering the league they have been one of the MLS' model franchises and this could be the year that they put some hardware beside that title.

With Fredy Montero gone on loan they will count on their depth to provide goal scoring and Michael Gspurning one of the league's best keepers to provide them with leadership at the back.

The team will struggle on the backline without Jeff Parke who was traded in the offseason, the veteran wanted to be closer to home and the team needed to clear salary cap room.

However Parke is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and could prove very hard to replace.

The Sounders only gave up 33 goals last season, second-least in the league.

Canadian Content

Sounders open their season by welcoming the Montreal Impact.

Mar. 2 - 7pm pt Sounders @ Impact
Canadian match-ups
Jun. 8 vs VAN 4pm et/1pm pt
Jul. 6 @ VAN 11pm et/8pm pt
Aug. 10 vs TOR 7pm et/4pm pt
Oct. 9 vs VAN 10pm et/7pm pt



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