My hat is off to the writers behind the MLS sitcom. Players and owners coming together on the CBA with no time left on the clock, just in time for the start of the season. Will there be a season, or won’t there be a season? The suspense was overwhelming and it’s got me and all the other American soccer fans more hyped than ever for the first kick this Friday. There’s no way this wasn’t scripted, and you have to say that’s great writing. Preseason is really boring anyway (Editor’s Note: What preseason were you watching!?) so it gave us something to busy ourselves with just before opening day.
LA Galaxy vs Chicago
Finally some soccer. Poor Chicago was the unlucky team to be picked to end up with the first loss of the 20th MLS season. Head Coach Frank Klopas has completely razed the team and built it not from the bottom up — but from the top down. He’s brought in three new designated players this offseason, creative midfielder and Scottish international Shaun Maloney, Ghanaian international striker David Accam, and Wilfried Bony’s alter ego, striker Kennedy Igboananike.
Former Galaxy star Mike Magee is still out with a hip injury but his new teammate Michael Stephens is back in MLS and makes a return to the stadium he called home for 4 years before leaving for Norway. Remember him? That guy who worked really hard, didn’t really show much in terms of being good at soccer, and who definitely needs to find a pair of socks with some better elastic? I’m serious, Google Michael Stephens and look at his socks when he plays… what the heck. With so many changes, the question is, has the team settled in time for the big game against Los Angeles, or is this a long-term project?
For LA, it’s quite the opposite. Despite losing both Marcelo “the midfield engine” Sarvas and a little guy named Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena hasn’t made too many changes to his championship squad. He’s added Edson Buddle — yup, he’s back again — and has been playing academy product, Bradford Jamieson a lot in the preseason games. It’s tough to predict his starting lineup for Friday, but I personally would love to see BJ given a shot at some substantial minutes in MLS this season.
If not Jamieson, than who will play on the left side of the midfield already consisting of Juninho, Ishizaki and Husidic? Will Arena bust up the strike partnership that produced some where close to 1,324,984,428 goals and assists last season and drop Gyasi Zardes into midfield? Doubt it, but you have to trust that Bruce has something up his sleeve.
This season, maybe the toughest challenge facing the defending champions is dodging complacency and finding the motivation to go and win a sixth title. With the end of Landon Donovan’s career, Los Angeles — and MLS for that matter — is entering a new era. Friday’s opener against Chicago will set the tone for where this dynasty is heading next.