By Ana Braccialli
It seems yesterday that we watched the Atlanta United defeat the Portland Timbers 2-0 in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup. Here we are a few days away from the start of the 2019 season. Starting March 2, MLS is back on for soccer fans.
Atlanta United is one of the favorites to win a back-to-back championship. This comes even after losing Miguel Almiron, midfielder, to Newcastle United. Atlanta also made some coaching changes, bringing Frank DeBoer in the place of Tata Martino.
Despite the loss of Almiron, the Atlanta United still have a shot. The champions defense didn’t look good in their 3-1 loss to SC Herediano in CCL play on February 21, with the second leg of the game coming on Thursday, March 28th. Teams that make a run in CCL often struggle in MLS play since the games and injuries begin to add up. With that being said, Atlanta United is still a loaded team full of talent, which is considered one of the favorites to win the Eastern conference, but they have to pick it up before its too late in the season.
The New York teams will be bringing considerable effort to the Eastern conference. The Red Bulls actually stunned Atlanta for the first seed in the East last season, but they had a sub-par performance when they faced again the champions in the playoffs.
Another team to watch is New York City, as all-time leading goalscorer David Villa has moved on and signed with Vissel Kobe, a Japanese soccer club. DC United may be a great team to watch since they came on strong late last year after signing Wayne Rooney, forward.
Last season, the Portland Timbers represented the Western conference in the MLS championship. However, the Timbers will have a rough start since their first 12 games will be on the road due to stadium renovations.
The LA Galaxy is a team worth watching this season, especially since striker Ibrahimović does a great job keeping fans entertained with solid plays and impossible goals that only he can pull off.
A team that one can never count out of this conference is the Seattle Sounders, however they need to add more consistency to their games instead of making late-season runs to the playoffs.
One team that will be tough to beat is Sporting Kansas City, as they ended up making to the Western Conference finals last season but were defeated by the Timbers. If Portland can sign a big time striker, maybe they can repeat what they did last season.
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org