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MLS - State of the League (Eastern Conference)

Info on every team in the Eastern Conference

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As Major League Soccer begins its 2017 season here’s a quick look at the league and it’s teams; and where to find more information about them. First here’s an overview of the league.

Major League Soccer (MLS)

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
  • Preview

So without further ado, let’s begin!

Atlanta United FC (ATL or AUFC)

  • Links: Homepage, Dirty South Soccer, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 record: N/A - Atlanta is one of 2 expansion teams for 2017.
  • Bobby Dodd Stadium (until new stadium finished this summer. Will share with NFL team Atlanta Falcons)
  • Official Kit - Home: Red/Black - Away: White, Red trim
  • Players to watch: Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Hector Villalba, Kenwyne Jones.
  • Preview: One of the new kids on the block. If history is anything to go on, they should struggle for the first season as they get used to the league; but being pretty stocked with talent they could do well in the Eastern Conference. - Kreg Asay

Chicago Fire (CHI)

  • Links: Homepage, Hot Time In Old Town, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 20th (East 10th). 7-17-10
  • Toyota Park, Bridgeview IL.
  • Official Kit - Home: Red - Away: White, Blue trim
  • Players to watch: Michael De Leeuw, Dax McCarty, Juninho, Nemanja Nikolic.
  • Preview: When was the last time Chicago was relevant? It looks as though that may be changing. They’ve torn through every opponent during preseason; if they can continue that during the season Chicago will finally be a threat in the East. - Kreg Asay

Columbus Crew SC (CLB)

  • Links: Homepage, Massive Report, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 18th (9th East), 8-14-12
  • Mapfre Stadium, Columbus OH.
  • Official Kit - Home: Yellow/Black trim - Away: Black, Yellow trim
  • Players to watch: Ethan Finlay, Justin Meram, Federico Higuain
  • Preview: Columbus had a disappointing 2016 campaign. After making it to the MLS Cup final in 2015, Crew SC failed to make the playoffs in 2016. Some would attribute this to the loss of DP Kei Kamara, but it was the defense that allowed the second most goals in the league. They reinforced the backline in the offseason, but the question is whether they did enough to keep up with the rest of the league. Greg Berhalter may be on the coaching chopping block if they don’t make the playoffs in 2017. - Howie Smith

D.C. United (DCU)

  • Links: Homepage, Black and Red United, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 10th (4th East), 11-10-13
  • RFK Stadium, Washington D.C. (New stadium nearing construction phase)
  • Official Kit - Home: Black, Red trim - Away: White/Red/Gray gradient
  • Players to watch: Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Nick DeLeon, Ian Harkes.
  • Preview: DC had an unexpectedly good run after a slow start in 2016. The signing of Patrick Mullins and Lloyd Sam in the summer helped to turn things around for United last season. In the offseason, they gained MLS veteran Sebastian Le Toux and Costa Rican striker Jose Guillermo Ortiz. DC will be playing a mix of older, experienced players with homegrown youth Last season they began to play a 4-1-4-1 formation and will likely continue. Luciano Acosta, the play-maker from Boca Juniors has now signed permanently with the team and this bodes well for their attack. They haven’t won MLS Cup since 2004 and will have something to prove this season. - Lucas Muller

Montreal Impact (MTL)

  • Links: Homepage, Mount Royal Soccer, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 11th (5th East), 11-11-12
  • Saputo Stadium, Montreal QB
  • Official Kit - Home: Blue/Black - Away: White, Blue trim
  • Players to watch: Ignacio Piatti, Dominic Odouro, Hassoun Camara
  • Preview: Had a great season in 2016 and lost to Toronto FC in an exciting Eastern Conference final. They continue to improve each season. Can they continue? Will Nacho Piatti keep demonstrating why he’s one of the best playmakers in the league? He’s an exciting one to watch and has Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player potential. —Andy Graff

New England Revolution (NER)

  • Links: Homepage, The Bent Musket, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 14th (7th East), 11-14-9
  • Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA (Shared with New England Patriots)
  • Official Kit - Home: Blue/Red/White - Away: Red/White
  • Players to watch: Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara.
  • Preview: Just missed out of the playoffs last season. They lost to LA Galaxy in MLS Cup 2014. Their pieces don’t seem to be fitting quite right recently and they have a leaky defense. Can they patch those holes for 2017? Will they find a way to make use of Agudelo and Kamara? With Nguyen behind those two, they have some real firepower. —Andy Graff

New York City FC (NYCFC or occasionally NYFC)

  • Links: Homepage, Hudson River Blue, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 4th (2nd East), 15-10-9
  • Yankee Stadium, New York NY (Shared with New York Yankees)
  • Official Kit - Home: Light Blue, Dk. Blue trim - Away: Lt. Blue/Dk. Blue gradient, Orange trim
  • Players to watch: Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Khiry Shelton, Maxi Moralez.
  • Preview: Patrick Vieira saw great success in his first year as manager, taking a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2015 to the 2 seed in the East in 2016. Reaching those same heights this year will depend on the health of global stars David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, as well as how quickly new faces like DP Maxi Morales and d-mid Alexander RIng assimilate. - Jake Vaughn

New York Red Bulls (NYRB)

  • Links: Homepage, Once A Metro, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 3rd (1st East), 16-9-9
  • Red Bull Arena, Harrison NJ
  • Official Kit - Home: White/Red/Yellow - Away: Blue/Yellow/Red
  • Players to watch: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Aurelien Collin, Luis Robles.
  • Preview: The Red Bulls finished the 2016 regular season on top of the Eastern Conference. As usual, they were very difficult to beat at home. Led by MVP candidates Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips, NYRB look to put their high press stamp on 2017 as well. The difficulty? Replacing captain Dax McCarty who was traded to Chicago in preseason. They look to rely on Sean Davis or highly touted youngster Tyler Adams to eat up some of Dax’s minutes, but can they perform at McCarty’s level for the whole season? Additions to the defense should help, but someone will need to step up as the glue that holds the team together. - Howie Smith

Orlando City S.C. (ORL)

  • Links: Homepage, The Mane Land, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 15th (8th East), 9-11-14
  • Orlando City Stadium, Orlando FL
  • Official Kit - Home: Purple, Yellow trim - Away: White/Purple
  • Players to watch: Jonathan Spector, Kaka, Will Johnson, Cyle Larin.
  • Preview: With both some key additions and departures in the offseason, Jason Kreis is diving head-first into his first full season in charge of the Lions. The exit of Brek Shea, Julio Baptista, and Kevin Molino made way for new acquisitions like Will Johnson, Jonathan Spector, Josh Saunders, and Giles Barnes. While 34-year-old Kaka could be playing his final season, Orlando will look to build on what they started last season, when they finished only one point out of the playoffs. With a brand new beautiful stadium to boot, this could be a big year for purple. - Ryan Sanders

Philadelphia Union (PHI)

  • Links: Homepage, Brotherly Game, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 13th (6th East), 11-14-9
  • Talen Energy Stadium, Chester PA
  • Official Kit - Home: Brown/Dk. Blue - Away: White/Dk. Blue, Brown trim
  • Players to watch: Joshua Yaro, Oguchi Onyewu, Chris Pontius, Alejandro Bedoya.
  • Preview: Philadelphia hired former US International Earnie Stewart as their Sporting Director in January 2016. His first year at the helm, the Union landed the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Although they finished 13th overall in the league. After some house cleaning, 2017 is set to be the first real season with Earnie’s fingerprints on it. In the off season, Philadelphia added English striker Jay Simpson, Dutch midfielder Gilliano Wijnadum (who also played for Albert Rusnak’s previous club FC Groningen), and former USMNT defender Oguchi Onyewu. Adding these experienced footballers from across the pond to MLS regulars Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius, CJ Sapong, Charlie Davies and Maurice Edu should give Philadelphia some much needed depth. The Union already have their first setback this year: second year star Joshua Yaro is out 3-4 months due to shoulder surgery. We’ll see if the Union’s solid mix of internationals, youth and veterans can get this club into the playoffs a second consecutive year. -Collin Nicholes

Toronto FC (TFC)

  • Links: Homepage, Waking The Red, SubReddit, Wikipedia
  • 2016 final position/record: 5th (3rd East), 14-9-11
  • BMO Field, Toronto ON
  • Official Kit - Home: Red, Black trim - Away: TBA
  • Players to watch: Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Victor Vazquez
  • Preview: Toronto had the unfortunate luck of losing the MLS Cup last year in a game in which they gave up zero shots on goal. They come back this season with essentially the same roster. They chose not to resign Will Johnson, but brought in 2014-2015 Belgian Footballer of the Year Victor Vazquez, a FC Barcelona product who will serve up assists to Altidore and Giovinco. If they can stay healthy, look for Toronto to be the team to beat in the East. - Howie Smith