The 2015 MLS season has all the makings to be the best one yet. Various U.S. national team players have come home, joined by many high profile international signings. In addition, there are two new expansion sides that are generating quite a bit of noise. Now that the players and owners have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, look for these teams to challenge for the MLS Cup.
1) New England Revolution: The Revolution have been able to build upon last year’s success. The midseason acquisition of Jermaine Jones last year sparked the Revs’ run all the way to the MLS Cup final. Despite losing one of their starting center backs, A.J. Soares, and a young, promising striker in Patrick Mullins, the Revolution will be mostly the same team. They also made a huge addition by bringing back fan-favorite Juan Agudelo. Coming off surgery Jermaine Jones may get off to a slow start to the season, but once he gets going the Revs will have enough to win the cup they have coveted.
2) Los Angeles Galaxy: The post-Landon Donovan era officially begins this year. Despite losing arguably the greatest MLS player of all time, the Galaxy should be able to continue their dominance of MLS. The have won three of the last four MLS Cups, due in large part to the play of Robbie Keane. The team will be looking to Gyasi Zardes to continue developing and play an even bigger part this year. The big move the team made this offseason was the acquisition of Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool legend will join the team midseason and will surely provide a spark during the long summer months.
3) Toronto F.C.: Toronto made arguably the biggest splashes this offseason bringing in Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. An Italian international coming to MLS at the height of his career, like Giovinco, was previously unheard of in the league’s young history. Giovinco will look to form a strong bond up top with Altidore, who continued the trend of Americans coming to MLS from Europe, like his teammate Michael Bradley. Despite a number of big- name signings over the last couple years Toronto has struggled to find success. Coach Greg Vanney will hope his stars can mesh in order to bring Canada its first MLS Cup.
4) Seattle Sounders: Since joining the league in 2009, Seattle has been a constant presence at the top of the Western Conference. The team boasts what many consider the best strike force in MLS, with U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Seattle was the best team in the league during the regular season last year, winning the Supporters’ Shield. Coach Sigi Schmid’s squad remains almost exactly the same, so he will hope that this will be the year the Sounders can finally get over the hump.
Orlando City S.C.: An expansion team winning the MLS Cup has never been done, but with Kaka on the field for Orlando anything is possible.
Columbus Crew S.C.: Coach Gregg Berhalter is one of the best young coaches in the league. Previous teams have shown that you do not need international stars to win in MLS, and Columbus will look to continue that trend.