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MLS 2008 Season Preview: The Update Edition

As promised back in the initial Season Preview Post, I’m back to provide updates on all of the teams since I originally wrote about them for STO. So without further ado (much like MLS, who is also without further Adu, Freddy that is), here’s what’s been happening…

Toronto: Seeing as how I just completed this preview a mere seven days ago, not much has changed in Toronto since then. Toronto did acquire Kevin Harmse from the Galaxy on Leap Day, but the day before they lost Ronnie O’Brien, who was one of their strongest players last year. Despite the fact the theme of this offseason has been for many teams about acquiring South American talent, Toronto failed to go out and find impact players to bring to Canada. Mo may be the Mozart of the SuperDraft, but he proved to be the Magoo of the offseason free agent market. 

San Jose: Like Toronto, I just recently drafted San Jose’s preview, and therefore not much has changed. I was suprised San Jose didn’t try to expand their roster with an active Waiver Draft, but I still can’t be too hard on the Quakes since I believe they have a better team in place now than Toronto, who had a whole year head start.

Salt Lake: Speaking of throwing away head starts, RSL finally may have halted their continual struggle to make the necessary offseason alterations necessary to compete in MLS. This year, RSL made some real improvements, but I still believe they will be a bottom feeder. Since I wrote the RSL preview, Real acquired the Good Doctor Kenny Deuchar from Scotland’s Gretna. The addition of Deuchar made Kyle Brown expendable, and so he ends up in Houston after being placed into the Waiver Draft by RSL. This was a good move, but Deuchar is a bit advanced in age to help the team long term. However, when Deuchar is paired with Findley on top, teams will have no choice but to key on him, allowing Findley more space to maneuver. As I believe Findley will be one of the “Next Big Things” in MLS, the move bodes well for RSL, but with a porous defense, likely not well enough to translate into a playoff season. One cannot deny though that RSL will probably be better in ’08. Their fans, I imagine, will take what they can get at this point.

New York: Strange happenings in the nation’s cultural capitol. Since my NYRB preview, the Bulls appear to have done… well… not a damn thing. No big free agent signings (and with two DPs already, how could they sign anybody too good, really?) The RBs did get rid of Dema Kovalenko, but besides that its been a pretty slow offseason in New York. With Altidore and Angel up top though, who needs much more? It will be an exciting year in NY, but with a roster as shallow as theirs, I would fear mediocrity if I were a Red Bulls supporter.

New England: Prior to the 2007 NFL season, Bob Kraft paid big bucks to sign three star receivers to aid Tom Brady on his march towards (and just short of) perfection. Kraft is looking to employ the same strategy with his soccer club it appears, as since my preview he has loosened the purse strings to bring in two foreign talents: forward Argenis Fernandez and midfielder Mauricio Castro. These two gentlemen will greatly assist NER as they look to finally capture an MLS Cup in 2008.

L.A.: Come on in my friends, sit close by the fire and hear of the tale of a magical, mystical Wizard named Alexi and his band of merry Gals, led by the Chosen One himself, Sir Golden Balls of Manchester. The Gals were so rotten and bad, Alexi decided to “shake things up” during the off season. Oh, and shake them up indeed he did. Since I last wrote about his black magic, he of the mysterious spells and charms dealt Kevin Harmse to Toronto for a 4th round draft pick. He then brought in no one. Wait a minute. There is nothing magical about Alexi. In fact, all he accomplished this off season was to make his team even older. If that’s a trick, I’ll have a treat please. What was the point of bringing in Babayaro again? Ty Harden, I feel ya bud. Good luck saving the world, it will be easier than saving Alexi’s job at the end of this year if the Galaxy don’t win (alot).

Kansas City: KCW may have read my preview of their 2008 team, since they went out and followed my worldly advice by acquiring a top flight striker (by MLS standards, that is). I said they needed “a legitimate scoring threat” to be successful in 2008, and they went out and acquired Claudio Lopez from Argentina’s Racing Club. Lopez should be successful in KC and he definitely relieves some of the pain of losing EJ to Fulham. Maybe they should call him Rolaids, instead of “The Louse.” Other than Lopez, KC didn’t do too much, but they didn’t need to really either.

Houston: The defending champs have been more busy than any other team since I penned their 2008 season preview. They brought in Brandon Prideaux and Kyle Brown in the Waiver Draft. They signed Argentinian striker Franco Caraccio. Finally, they dealt Ramiro Corrales’ rights to the Quakes. Oh, and yeah, they apparently had some front office changes as well. All in all, these moves bode well for Houston, and poorly for everyone else. The one place the Dynamo needed depth was up top, and Caraccio and Brown provide them with just that.

Dallas: If you think we don’t write enough about FCD here at STO, you’re probably right. However, in our defense, there just hasn’t been alot to write about this year for the Hoops. Since I drafted their preview, Dallas really hasn’t done much. They were loaned Brazillian Andre Rocha, but that’s really about it. They needed more depth up top though, yet they failed to procure it. Good luck Dallas fans, your season largely rests on the shoulders of Kenny Cooper. I would say it also rests on Toja’s shoulders, but I doubt there is room for it seeing as how those shoulders are occupied with supporting the most awesome coif in MLS. I don’t know how to say “The Lizard King” in Spanish, but someone who does needs to brand Toja with that nickname as soon as possible.

D.C.: Funny how DCU and Houston are the ones making the most changes as the season approaches. You would think two of the league’s best teams wouldn’t need alot, but with MLS becoming more and more like a revolving door, teams can’t just sit on their laurels during the offseason any more. So, since I scribed the DCU preview, the nation’s political capitol has been bustling with transactions. Santino Quaranto has been signed and Jeff Curtin has been brought in to provide depth on D. These moves, when coupled with the signing of Gallardo and the deal that brought in Quavas Kirk, mean DCU had about as productive an off season as any team. Since they won the Supporters’ Shield the last two years, I see no reason why they shouldn’t compete for it again in ’08. It will depend on Gallardo, of course, but I see no reason why he should not lead this team deep into the post-season.

Columbus: The Crew has made few moves since my preview. They traded away strong, young defender Tim Ward, and they brought in Nicolas Hernandez to help out up top. The addition of Hernandez was needed after Andy Herron was dealt earlier in the offseason. The Crew’s moves have been low-key, and only time will tell if they are effective. Unfortunately, unless Schellotto can dominate the Crew’s competition even more than last season, I do not foresee 2008 as being a strong year for Columbus.

Colorado: Since the Rapids’ preview, Colorado has cut Brandon Prideaux and Chase Hilgenbrick and traded Nicolas Hernandez. Meanwhile, they signed Brazillian Rafael Gomes and got young defender Tim Ward from the Crew for Hernandez. But by far, the biggest move Colorado has made since I drafted the preview was bringing in Christian Gomez. Gomez is one of the few players in the league who can immediately make a team much, much better. In fact, when the deal was done, Colorado went from a team with a “poor” outlook in 2008 to one with an “average” one. Not a huge jump, but an important one for a team that has been struggling to bring in fans, despite having a brand spanking new park.

Chivas: Preki hasn’t been that busy learning new players’ names this off season. In fact, their starting 11 will look more like it did in 2007 than most team’s. Since I wrote my Chivas preview back in January, Chivas has only made one big move, the signing of Rafael Wicky. Chivas has added some more talent in addition to Wicky, but the biggest moves were the ones that weren’t made this offseason. Guzan appeared all but ready to leave Chivas back in January, but after being denied the documentation he needed to play abroad, Brad was stuck here in America. “Yeah!” for Chivas fans, “eh?” for Guzan fans. Unfortunately, Guzan has subsequently been injured and will likely miss the first few weeks of the season. In any event, some Brad is better than none. Chivas should be tough again in ’08.

Chicago: Back on Jan. 28, 2008, I stated that the Fire were looking hot as they approached the 2008 season. Though I still like the Fire to be a contender in ’08, less than two weeks after posting my preview the Fire lost goalkeeper Matt Pickens when he made the jump to England to play for the Queens Park Rangers. The loss of Pickens means Jon Busch will start in goal for the Fire in ’08. Busch is a MLS veteran who should be adequate in goal for the Fire. Chicago has been relatively quiet on the transaction front since losing Pickens. The Fire acquired forward Andy Herron from Columbus in mid-February and lost defender Jeff Curtin, who ended up with DC United after a short hiatus with Chivas.

Tune in next week for the Season Preview Finale when I make a bunch of predictions that will likely never come to pass.

And, on a more personal note, I thought I may mention that this is STO’s 100th Post. Congrats Dave and I appreciate the chance to contribute.

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