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2017 MLS season preview: Everything you need to know about every club

Goal.com logo Goal.com 02-03-2017

After the shortest offseason in league history, with a mere 12 weeks separating us from the Seattle Sounders' title triumph, we're back for the 2017 MLS campaign.

In the buildup to Friday's curtain-raiser between the Portland Timbers and Minnesota United, we at Goal have taken a broad look at the league by surveying MLS general managers about a variety of topics, providing our preseason power rankings and breaking down both conferences on the Goal USA podcast.

GM survey: Giovinco to win MVP and more

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Looking for team-by-team content? Over the past month, we interviewed players, coaches and executives from all 22 MLS clubs. The fruits of our labor: an in-depth feature on each team, along with an analytical look at every club's key additions, notable losses, projected lineups and more.

So go ahead and get ready for the 2017 MLS season with Goal:

ATLANTA UNITED Darren Eales wasn't getting his hopes up. As word reached the Atlanta United front office in August that Gerardo "Tata" Martino was interested in coaching the MLS expansion side, the club's president met the prospect with a healthy dose of skepticism. From Barcelona to Argentina to MLS? It's not exactly the prototypical managerial trajectory. Read more Atlanta United 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more CHICAGO FIRE Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic wasn't expecting to win the league in his first season leading the team, but he didn't think it would go as poorly as it did. "Last year we knew that it was going to be a difficult season for us," Paunovic told Goal, "but we obviously expected better results." Read more Chicago Fire 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more COLORADO RAPIDS Call them boring. Call them pragmatic. Call them whatever you’d like. But when you speak of the 2017 Colorado Rapids, you should call them contenders as well. In 2015, the Rapids looked down and out. The season saw them fall to the bottom of the Western Conference and post the second-worst record in MLS. Read more Colorado Rapids 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more COLUMBUS CREW It's tough to pin down exactly what went wrong for the Columbus Crew in 2016. Their Eastern Conference opposition grew more competitive. Long-term injuries played a part, as well. The saga that saw Kei Kamara shipped to New England was no small distraction. But there also were breakdowns in Columbus' possession-oriented system. Read more Columbus Crew 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more D.C. UNITED Some 18 months ago, the D.C. United brass laid out a roadmap. Since Ben Olsen took over as coach midway through the 2010 season, the club had stuck to variations of a direct 4-4-2 system. After a dismal 2013 campaign, United sought a quick fix by investing in MLS stalwarts who fit the bill for Olsen's blue-collar approach. Read more D.C. United 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more FC DALLAS Most coaches would've been happy with FC Dallas' haul in 2016. The club won a trophy and followed it up with another months later, instead of taking 19 years like the last time. But after winning the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters' Shield, the MLS Cup was not to be, with the team's attack struggling to find a driving force after playmaker Mauro Diaz's Achilles injury in the penultimate match of the season. Oscar Pareja is not like most coaches. Read more FC Dallas 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more HOUSTON DYNAMO After finishing last in the Western Conference, the Houston Dynamo needed to make a change. They turned to a Colombian boasting experience as both a MLS head coach and an assistant, with an intimate knowledge of both soccer in the Americas and the youth system in the United States. Sound familiar? New Dynamo boss Wilmer Cabrera is about as close as you could get to Oscar Pareja. Read more Houston Dynamo 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more LA GALAXY You might have thought it would take a while for Curt Onalfo to settle in and get comfortable in his new job as head coach of the LA Galaxy, with the fact he was replacing a legend in Bruce Arena. Rest assured, Onalfo felt no nerves in taking the job as Arena's replacement, and he felt right at home as he moved into the former office of the most successful coach in MLS history. Read more LA Galaxy 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more MINNESOTA UNITED It’s never easy being an expansion franchise. A brand-new team must bring together a large group of players with disparate origins and in short order, mold them into a collective, acclimating the group to a new city, a new league, and a new style of play. Along with the usual travails of a new franchise, though, Minnesota United must also deal with an expansion sibling that is making plenty of noise and threatening to leave them in the dust from the get-go. Read more Minnesota United 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more MONTREAL IMPACT Heading into the 2017 MLS season, the biggest change for the Montreal Impact has been the relative lack of changes. There have been some player departures — Didier Drogba the most notable of all — but none from the main core of the team. The same starting XI and, with just one exception, the same coaching staff that lead the Impact to their first ever conference finals last fall — a dramatic 7-5 aggregate defeat to rival Toronto FC — is back again this year. Read more Montreal Impact 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION On paper, it was an attack to be feared. A lineup that featured 2015 MLS MVP runner-up Kei Kamara and 2014 third-place finisher Lee Nguyen. A player with plenty of talent in Juan Agudelo. A highly regarded attacking pair in Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. And it was an attack that had produced before, with a run to the MLS Cup final in 2014 — albeit with a few different pieces mixed in. Yet it was an attack that simply was not producing up to its potential for most of 2016. Read more New England Revolution 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more NEW YORK CITY FC Before their recent reunion as New York City FC teammates, the last time Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace shared a field wearing the same uniform was while celebrating Costa Rica's 4-0 World Cup qualifying victory against the United States. They didn't figure to cross paths again until March qualifiers. But that was before NYCFC reached out to Wallace hoping to convince him to join its push for an MLS Cup. Read more New York City FC 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more NEW YORK RED BULLS Playoff defeats always hurt, but for Jesse Marsch, last year's stunning Eastern Conference semifinal loss by the New York Red Bulls against the Montreal Impact stung much more. Not just because the loss came against the same team Marsch once coached, or even because it marked a second straight season to end with playoff disappointment. Read more New York Red Bulls 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more ORLANDO CITY Jason Kreis is still a young man but in MLS coaching terms, he’s basically a grizzled veteran. “Somebody told me the other day, this is my 10th season,” Kreis told Goal. “That’s a few more than I thought I had. “I took over the coaching job at RSL when I was 34 so I’ve been going at this quite a bit of time.” How much more time Kreis has as an MLS head coach could be largely determined by how much Orlando City can improve in 2017 – and whether the club’s ownership will be patient with its head coach if the Lions don’t reach the postseason for the first time in their three-year MLS history. Read more Orlando City 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more PHILADELPHIA UNION You might not think of the position of head coach of the Philadelphia Union as dream job, but you couldn't really blame Jim Curtin if he feels like it is. The Philadelphia native and former longtime MLS defender always planned on settling down in his hometown, and being able to do that while coaching the city's team has been a dream come true. It has also given Curtin a just reward for a tough decision he made seven years ago. Read more Philadelphia Union 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more PORTLAND TIMBERS Coming off a MLS Cup win in 2015, the Portland Timbers fell flat in 2016. Caleb Porter has no doubt why that happened. “If we had a healthy squad last season, we would have been in the playoffs – it’s that simple,” the Timbers head coach told Goal. “But we weren’t healthy. The problem is we had to rely on our depth and our depth didn’t get the job done.” As key player after key player went down, the Timbers were forced to abandon their preferred style of play. Read more Portland Timbers 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more REAL SALT LAKE Sometimes big changes can blind-side those who are the most plugged in. So it was for Kyle Beckerman and some of Real Salt Lake's players when it was revealed Javier Morales would not return to the club for an 11th season. "I think it was a surprise to even him," Beckerman told Goal. "You thought Javi would be here the rest of his career, so of course, we were all surprised. But that’s the business." Read more Real Salt Lake 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski is very frank when it comes to his post-playing career. “I want to be involved in the game but not in MLS one bit,” Wondolowski told Goal. Given that the striker has been such a mainstay in the league over the last decade, winning the Golden Boot in 2012, that may come as a surprise. But Wondolowski is very clear in his desire — his role in the game will likely be limited the local, youth club level. Anything MLS-coaching related is out of the question. Read more San Jose Earthquakes 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more SEATTLE SOUNDERS For the 2016 MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders, nothing came easy. Obafemi Martins was sold just before the start of the season. The only coach the MLS version of the club had ever known, Sigi Schmid, was replaced midseason. And two of the team’s biggest stars, Clint Dempsey and Roman Torres, missed extended time through injuries. Simply put, the Sounders had their share of trials and tribulations. As the 2017 season draws near, the Sounders, having fought through the rocky patches of 2016, look primed and ready to come out and defend their crown. Read more Seattle Sounders 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more SPORTING KANSAS CITY Three times in three years Sporting Kansas City has faced a knockout round playoff match on the road. And each time a disappointing, if not devastating, loss has followed. In 2014, two goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the final 15 minutes saw the New York Red Bulls eliminate Sporting KC on their way to the Eastern Conference final. The 2015 season saw the eventual champions, the Portland Timbers, knock out Kansas City in a shootout. Last year, Sporting's season was ended by a Nelson Valdez goal in the dying minutes against the Seattle Sounders, who also went on to win MLS Cup. All three losses were, in their own ways, crushing for a club that won MLS Cup in 2013 and retains a solid core from that title-winning team. But they all lead to the same reality. Playoff seeding matters. Read more Sporting Kansas City 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more TORONTO FC Toronto FC entered 2016 without ever having won an MLS playoff game. It ended the year within inches of claiming MLS Cup. On the surface, such a stark turnaround may have been surprising. But after years of being the well-heeled laughingstock of Major League Soccer, the club decided to try something that had evaded it for most of its first decade of existence — consistency. Read more Toronto FC 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more VANCOUVER WHITECAPS The only thing worse than having a poor season is having a poor season while watching your rivals taste success. For the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2016 was bad enough given that the club regressed in the standings over the previous two seasons, resulting in an all-too-early elimination from the playoff race. To make matters worse, some of Vancouver's biggest foes enjoyed successful campaigns last year, culminating with a nightmare scenario for 'Caps fans as the Seattle Sounders defeated Toronto FC to claim the MLS Cup. Read more Vancouver Whitecaps 2017 MLS season preview: Roster, schedule, national TV info and more

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