Previewing the Eastern Conference

An Eastern Conference primer.

Let the prognosticating continue. Yesterday, I looked at the Western Conference. Today, the ultra competitive East.

Orlando City SC had the best offseason in what’s sure to be a make or break year for Jason Kreis. The time for results is now, after last year’s cratering in 9th place. Uri Rosell, Sacha Kljestan, and Justin Meram are game-changing additions. The question will be in defense, but the signing Lamine Sane should assuage those concerns. They’ll be down bodies on the opening weekend, but I expect the Lions to join the top half.

But the undisputed alpha-dog is Toronto FC. Greg Vanney lost just one starter from last season (Steven Beitashour signed with LAFC), and it might have upgraded with Gregory van dier Wiel. Last year, this was the league’s best team, but even the Warriors have shown cracks trying to follow up a historic feat.

The Barco transfer makes Atlanta United must watch/stream. He fetched the largest transfer fee in league history, but he’s injured for the start of 2018. No worries, Tata Martino can deploy Julian Gressel or Andrew Carleton (USMNT fans hop it’s Carleton). Filling in for Carlos Carmona (‘09 KB5 light) will be challenging.

New York City FC and New York Red Bulls face challenges in replacing stalwarts – Jack Harrison and the aforementioned Kljestan. The replacements are Jesus Medina for NYCFC and Kaku for NYRB. I’m not too bullish on either adapting to MLS quickly.

The off-field drama in Columbus has me worried about the Crew. Their system generated chances galore for Ola Kamara. With Gyasi Zardes slated to fill in, I’m not sure he’s up to the task. His best year came while he was alongside MVP-winning Robbie Keane. Counting on Zardes to bag double digit goals seems optimistic.

Philadelphia Union want 2017 Chicago Fire David Accam – 14 goals and eight assists. He was directly involved in Chicago’s success. When Accam cooled off with just four tallies down the last four months, the Fire went 5-8-2. If the wingers can’t drive attention away from Nemanja Nikolic, defenses can key in on the big striker. The translation in Philadelphia should benefit CJ Sapong.

New England Revolution need a playmaker and I’m not sure Lee Nguyen is their guy. If Chicago turns interest into action, the Revs will be set for a long summer. As it stands, Brad Friedel may have to wait on Juan Agudelo to become the marquee guy.

DC United made the biggest splashes in club history.

Montreal Impact lost with veterans last year. Well this year, they’ll do it again, just with younger faces.

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