As Major League Soccer begins its 2017 season here’s a quick look at the Western Conference teams; and where to find more information about them. First here’s an overview of the league.
Major League Soccer (MLS)
- MLS Executives/Leadership
- Competition Rules
- Roster Rules
- League History (Wikipedia)
- MLS Year-by-year overview
- Founded 1995 (play began 1996).
- 1st tier US Soccer Assoc.
- For 2017: 22 Teams divided into 2 Conferences of 11 teams each.
Now, here’s a primer on the team entries you will find below:
Team Name (usual abbreviation)
- Links: Homepage, SB Nation Blog, Reddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 record/placement: Full table (Conf.), W-L-D
- Stadium details
- Kit (uniform) colors
- Players to watch
So without further ado, let’s begin!
Colorado Rapids (COL)
- Links: Homepage, Burgundy Wave, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 2nd (2nd West), 15-6-13
- Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City CO.
- Official Kit - Home: Burgundy/White - Away: Yellow, Blue trim
- Players to watch: Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle, Shkelzen Gashi, Tim Howard.
Preview: The Rapids were one win away from a Supporters’ Shield last season and return the same core, though Jermaine Jones has moved on. If their MO remains the same, look for Colorado to rely on a rigid defense to carry them while Badji, Gashi, and co try to spring deadly counters. 1-0 is a scoreline coach Pablo Mastroeni loves. - Jake Vaughn
FC Dallas (FCD)
- Links: Homepage, Big D Soccer, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 1st (1st West), 17-8-9
- Toyota Stadium, Frisco TX
- Official Kit - Home: Red, White trim - Away: Blue/White gradient
- Players to watch: Mauro Diaz, (and Javier Morales until he returns of course), Cristian Colman, Maxi Urruti.
Preview: If their CCL win against Arabe Unido is any indicator, FC Dallas could be looking to do some big things this year. New additions Cristian Colman, Javier Morales and Roland Lamah all look poised to make a big impact for the club this year. Will this finally be the year Dallas brings home the MLS cup? After finishing first in the west for two consecutive seasons, and then losing in the playoffs, fans are hoping so. - Coby Gerstner
Houston Dynamo (HOU)
- Links: Homepage, Dynamo Theory, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 19th (10th West), 7-14-13
- BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston TX
- Official Kit - Home: Orange, White trim - Away: Black/Orange
- Players to watch: Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas, Cubo Torres.
Preview: One of the bigger question marks in the league, Houston has acquired a lot of young attacking talent over the last few years, but haven’t been able to fit the pieces together. The offseason appointment of coach Wilmer Cabrera is an indicator that this team is finally ready to invest in youth, and while the team will likely struggle this year and next, look for them to trend upward and become dangerous down the road. -Jake Vaughn
LA Galaxy (LAG)
- Links: Homepage, LA Confidential, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 6th (3rd West), 12-6-16
- Stubhub Center, Carson CA
- Official Kit - Home: White/Blue/Yellow - Away: Blue
- Players to watch: Jermaine Jones, Jose Villarreal, Gyasi Zardes, Giovani Dos Santos.
Preview: This season marks some of the most drastic changes for the Galaxy. Bruce Arena has left the club to take the helm at the US Men’s National Team and start striker Robbie Keane’s contract has expired. Not to mention that Donovan didn’t resign with LA or, um, anyone else. One of the biggest tests for LA will be how Curt Onalfo preforms as new head coach. This season will likely be a rough start as key players like Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Rogers, and Ashley Cole are all injured. A healthy LAG will be a dangerous team, but it’s hard to say when everyone will be back. Rogers’ injury is a long term one and LAG Confidential reported that there’s no clear option to replace him. Jermaine Jones has joined and Giovani dos Santos look as dangerous as ever. - Lucas Miller
Minnesota United F.C. (MINN or MUFC)
- Links: Homepage, E Pluribus Loonum, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: N/A - Minnesota is one of 2 expansion teams for 2017.
- TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis MN (New stadium under construction in St. Paul)
- Official Kit - Home: Gray/Lt. Blue - Away: White, Gray/Lt. Blue trim
- Players to watch: Kevin Molino, Johan Venegas, Josh Gatt, Collin Martin.
Preview: Second of the debutantes to the MLS ball, MUFC drew the unfortunate straw of ending up in the Western Conference. Will they be able to run the gauntlet and make the playoffs? The skeptical answer is no, but they could surprise everyone. - Kreg Asay
Portland Timbers (POR)
- Links: Homepage, Stumptown Footy, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 12th (7th West), 12-14-8
- Providence Park, Portland OR
- Official Kit - Home: Dk. Green, Gold trim - Away: Black/Red gradient
- Players to watch: Fanendo Adi, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Liam Ridgewell.
Preview: I hate to say it, but Portland may be the most talented attacking team in the league. The front four is full of quality, dynamic players while Diego Chara and David Guzman form the best Bash Brothers tandem since Mighty Ducks. Luckily for the TImbers’ rivals, there is a gaping whole at center back since Gbenga Arokoyo went down with injury in the preseason. Their ability to plug that gap will define their ceiling this year. -Jake Vaughn
Real Salt Lake (RSL)
- Links: Homepage, (RSL Soapbox - you’re already here!), SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 9th (6th West), 12-12-10
- Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy UT
- Official Kit - Home: Red, Blue/Yellow trim - Away: White, Blue trim
- Players to watch: (if you don’t know this already, you haven’t been reading the Soapbox!) : Jordan Allen, Brooks Lennon, Albert Rusnak, Yura Movsisyan.
Preview: If you’re an RSL fan, and need a preview - why haven’t you been reading RSL Soapbox? For anyone else reading - Thanks for dropping by! Glad to have you here, feel free to leave a few comments, and like some articles :-) - Kreg Asay
San Jose Earthquakes (SJE)
- Links: Homepage, Center Line Soccer, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 17th (9th West), 8-12-14
- Avaya Stadium, San Jose CA
- Official Kit - Home: Black/Blue gradient - Away: White/Red
- Players to watch: Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa, Shea Salinas, Tommy Thompson.
Preview: Following another disappointing season in which the Quakes missed the playoffs, it took a while for the team to engage in the off-season. Once they reached an agreement with AS Roma executive, Jesse Fioranelli, their off-season exploded. He brought in 5 international players from Europe and Central America (including Albert Rusnak’s ex-teammate at Groningen, Danny Hoesen.) San Jose has reloaded, but with all the offensive additions, it’s yet to be seen if they can be utilized with the blue collar style of manager Dominic Kinnear. - Howie Smith
Seattle Sounders (SEA)
- Links: Homepage, Sounder At Heart, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 7th (4th West), 14-14-6
- Century Link Field, Seattle WA (Shared with Seattle Seahawks)
- Official Kit - Home: Lt. Green/Dk. Green - Away: Dk. Blue, Lt. Blue trim
- Players to watch: Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Ozzie Alonso, Jordan Morris.
Preview: To the chagrin of RSL fans everywhere, 2016 was the year of the Sounders as they dominated the final half of the season and took home their first-ever MLS Cup championship. Bringing back most of the core from last year’s team, they’ve made some nice additions in Harry Shipp and Will Bruin, while they also seem to be on the cusp of signing star playmaker Keisuke Honda from Italian giants AC Milan. With Clint Dempsey cleared to play again after his scary heart condition that kept him sidelined for the playoffs, the Sounders look to be as strong as ever, with Nico Lodeiro leading the way in what they hope will be another successful year. - Ryan Sanders
Sporting Kansas City (SKC)
- Links: Homepage, The Blue Testament, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 8th (5th West), 13-13-8
- Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City KS
- Official Kit - Home: Lt. Blue, White trim - Away: Dk. Blue, Lt. Blue trim
- Players to watch: Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Matt Besler.
Preview: Sporting Kansas City fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouth after ending their season against eventual MLS cup champions, Seattle Sounders, 1-0 on a controversial goal in the 88th minute. It was their third straight year exiting the playoffs in the first round. Can they go further in 2017? That’s the hope. Look to new additions Ilie Sánchez and Gerso Fernandes to make an impact. - Coby Gerstner
Vancouver Whitecaps (VAN)
- Links: Homepage, Eighty Six Forever, SubReddit, Wikipedia
- 2016 final position/record: 16th (8th West), 10-15-9
- BC Place, Vancouver BC
- Official Kit - Home: White/Lt. Blue, Dk. Blue trim - Away: Blue/White gradient
- Players to watch: Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna, Kekuta Manneh.
Preview: Finishing eighth in the Western Conference last year, Vancouver has something to prove this season as they’ve made a couple big changes to their roster. First and foremost, they brought Fredy Montero back from the Chinese Super League in a move that shocked MLS. In addition, they just sent Giles Barnes packing to Orlando in exchange for MLS and USMNT vet Brek Shea. Where will they play him, though? Brek has most recently been playing as a defender but has also played as a forward in the past, so looks like the ‘Caps just scored themselves a Swiss Army knife of their own. Can they finish higher and compete with the rest of their Cascadia opponents in the table this season? - Ryan Sanders