Look, you can find detailed analyses of whether a team like San Jose will trot out a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 this year just about anywhere. But you don’t care about all that. You, like me, don’t have any idea what I just said. Instead, as you face down the highly anticipated 2018 MLS season, you want to know the essentials to get you started. Essentials like a comprehensive listing of why each team will come in last place this year. Of course you do; that’s why you are visiting this website.
Wait no longer. What follows is a team-by-team breakdown of what pieces each team lost, what pieces each team added, a thoroughly meditated overview of the team’s fortunes, and then a good reason why the club will either finish dead last or will win the treble. Close all those other tabs; you won’t be needing them where we’re going.
2017 Performance: 9-5-20, 32 points, 11th in the East
Key Additions: Yamil Asad, Junior Moreno, Gonzalo Veron
Key Subtractions: Bill Hamid
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Taking a similar approach as that of Colorado, D.C. is hoping that cleaning house is the way up the table. They let their free agents walk and signed a ton of defensive players and keepers (including trading for Vancouver’s David Ousted), apparently not realizing that a better defense doesn’t help if you can’t up your goal tally from 31 in a season. Darren Mattocks up front may help the lack of goals somewhat.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: They did it last year.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: A midseason move to Audi Field inspires the team to reach heights they haven’t seen in 14 years. – David Baker
Orlando City SC
2017 Performance: 10-15-9, 39 points, 10th in the East
Key Additions: Sacha Klejstan, Josue Colman, Justin Meram
Key Subtractions: Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas, Kaka
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: They added Dom Dwyer late last year, which though there are things to hate about him, he has a fairly consistent MLS goalscoring record. Then they added Sacha Klejstan, who has led the league in assists two years in a row. What a coup. They’ve grabbed a DP attacking midfielder in Josue Colman. And they’ve still got guys like Will Johnson (will he be a midfielder or a right back) and Justin Meram out of Columbus there. Cyle Larin is out after some drama, but I think the club has more than made up for his loss. Now about that defense tho…
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Sacha Klejstan will regress toward the mean, Josue Colman won’t integrate well, and their defense hasn’t gotten any meaningful reinforcement.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Because Sacha Klejstan, even regressing toward the mean, is still the best distributor in MLS, dead weight like Carlos Rivas and Kaka is gone, and Jason Kreis has done more with less than this. – David Martin
2017 Performance: 11-17-6, 39 points, 9th in the East
Key Additions: Raheem Edwards, Michael Petrasso
Key Subtractions: Patrice Bernier, Laurent Ciman, Blerim Dzemaili, Tabla
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Ignacio Piatti is excellent, but he’s old as hell. Did you know Patrice Bernier is 38? Actually if you go back in time and look at Montreal’s best guys, they’re all old. But I think that’s turning around somewhat. Piatti is still there but Bernier and Laurent Ciman are out, as is Blerim Dzemaili. Anthony Jackson-Hamel is a young guy that can be a rising star. They got Raheem Edwards, who was amazing on the left for Toronto and is still only 22. In the defense, their key area of need, the got Michael Petrasso out of QPR at right back. Zakaria Diallo is still in at centerback too, but there remain some questions there. The bad news on the youth front is Tabla going to Barcelona B. Let us just hope that after two years of getting zero minutes he decides to come back to MLS. Anyway, all this means that this will be a bit of a rebuilding year this year but from a long term building standpoint I think they have the right strategy.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: The movement toward youth is the right long-term strategy, but in the meantime these youngsters will struggle as they get their feet wet.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Nacho Piatti is still amazing, and when Jackson-Hamel has his big breakout year, there won’t be a defense that can stop them. – David Martin
2017 Performance: 11-9-14, 42 points, 8th in East
Key Additions: David Accam, Matthew Real, Mark McKenzie
Key Subtractions: Chris Pontius, Oguchi Onyewu, Giliano Wijnaldum, Maurice Edu, Brian Carroll
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: 2018 looked to be a rebuilding year after a disappointing eighth place finish in 2017. However, Philly’s offseason action does not support that theory well, considering their only draft day move was the pricey purchase of attacking mid David Accam from Chicago. Two Academy signings (Real and McKenzie) hint at a long-term plan, but from what I am reading the short-term vision is unclear. Of course, trialists and call-ups from USL-affiliate Bethlehem Steel could shore up their struggling defense and midfield and make me look the fool for having doubt.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: After a 6th place finish in 2016 and an 8th place finish in 2017, a 10th place finish is the only logical prediction.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They spent $1.2 million in GAM and TAM on Accam who, with 33 goals and 15 assists in three seasons with Chicago, can give them a considerably more padded goal differential than ever before. – Bridget McDowell
New England Revolution
2017 Performance: 13-15-6, 45 points, 7th in East
Key Additions: Gabriel Somi,
Key Subtractions: Kei Kamara
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Cody Cropper had a bad year last year. I’m a big “regress to the means” guy so whenever I see someone have a stellar or poor year, I try to look at why, and if there are no key reasons or stats that suggest a reason to persist then I assume the player will regress to the mean. Cody Cropper was bad, but other than a defense prone to some bad play in front of him it wasn’t like something happened specifically that seems likely to continue. He’ll just have to let in fewer soft goals. And that defense has improved somewhat, too. They’ve got Gabriel Somi at left back which is an upgrade, drafted a handful of defenders. They still need some central defenders but they are moving in the right direction. That direction still includes guys like Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, Teal Bunbury, Krisztian Nemeth, Diego Fagundez, and Lee Nguyen. Ah, Lee Nguyen. The Revs entered a losing standoff with the guy and he’s still on the books. He wants out but the Revs are holding on. Nguyen is a professional, he’ll play his best, but this could be bad for rapport. But they’ve got two free DP spots now so they should be able to find a central defender, a D-mid, and maybe a Kei Kamara replacement right? Right?
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: No amount of looking good on paper ever adds up to success on the field. Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, Teal Bunbury, Krisztian Nemeth? Dead last.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They’ve got two DP openings burning a hole in their pocket and if they use them right, they might activate that big list of names I just rattled off. – David Martin
New York Red Bulls
2017 Performance: 14-12-8, 50 points, 6th in East
Key Additions: Carlos Rivas
Key Subtractions: Sacha Klejstan, Gonzalo Veron
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Sacha Klejstan is irreplaceable. But they did add…Carlos Rivas? Plus a ton of youth guys in Brian White, Amando Moreno, Ben Mines in the attack and Kevin Politz as a centerback. In truth, they don’t get the credit of an RSL or FC Dallas, but NYRB has done this for a while. Keep the youth churn going and sell dudes at their peak rather than after. It’s worked ok for them. They have a couple of Supporters Shields to their name. But by focusing on playing the kids and losing people like Dax and Sacha the last two years, I’d expect this year to be a bit disjointed while youth gets blooded.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: New York’s moneyball approach of selling its best talent at peak prices and then gambling on youth will bite it in the ass in the short term, and Carlos Rivas will probably take down a hot air balloon with one of his shots this year.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: New York has gone through this turnover process before and they know how to do it. They’ve got two Shields in the last six years. Trust the process. – David Martin
Columbus Crew SC
2017 Performance: 16-12-6, 54 points, 5th in East
Key Additions: Gyasi Zardes,
Key Subtractions: Ola Kamara, Kekutah Manneh
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Ola Kamara for Gyassi Zardes is a trade Columbus loses. However, people are unfair about Zardes and he’s still good MLS talent. He also appears to figure as a forward in Columbus’ set up. They still have Federico Higuain, but lost Kekutah Manneh, whom they only gained in another losing trade with Vancouver last year. The front office strategy is unclear to me right now. They aren’t betting big on youth or betting big on high profile DPs. They seem to be holding pat more or less. Maybe that’s because of the looming relocation, but that’s only from a fan perspective. If they relocate, so do the players and they’ll want to keep a good team rolling. I guess they kept a dynamite No. 8 in Artur, so they aren’t entirely void of ideas.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Anthony Precourt will sign Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger to torpedo this team into a position so low they will have to relocate.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger will carry this team on their backs into the playoffs, and the entire city of Cleveland will be behind them. – David Martin
2017 Performance: 15-10-9, 55 points, 4th in the East
Key Additions: Enrique Barco, Darlington Nagbe
Key Subtractions: Yamil Asad
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Atlanta’s incoming players were more headline-worthy this winter than the transfers out. Of note to TDIK readers is the fact that Tyrone Mears was picked up by Minnesota United on a free transfer and the Loons traded for Harrison Heath, son of head coach Adrian Heath. Darlington Nagbe was traded from the Portland Timbers and Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Barco was purchased from Independiente for about $15 million. So that’s nice for them…
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: By the sheer mental will of MNUFC fans? The only way I see them coming in last is if there’s a rash of injuries or if the giant metal asshole they play in prolapses.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They finished fourth last season and actually made moves to make the team better, so it’s not a big leap to say they’ll make the playoffs again. If they can score a goal this time, they have a chance to make some noise. – David Baker
2017 Performance: 16-7-11, 55 points, 3rd in the East
Key Additions: Some David Accam money
Key Subtractions: David Accam, Matt Lampson
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: It’s been a fairly quiet offseason for the Fire apart from one player moving to Liverpool FC. No, not that Liverpool. The one in Uruguay. Chicago sent Matt Lampson to Minnesota and brought in some defensive help from Orlando (Rafael Ramos) and Vancouver (Christian Dean).
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Chicago seemed ready to finish near last again last season before Bastian Schweinsteiger signed with them for some reason and Nemanja Nikolic came in from Warsaw just to fuck up everyone’s preseason predictions. They’ll come back down to their rightful place at the bottom again this year.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Maybe the aging Hungarian will stay hot and Chicago won’t shit the bed in the playoffs against a team with double-digit losses. – David Baker
New York City FC
2017 Performance: 16-9-9, 57 points, 2nd in the East
Key Additions: Jesus Medina, Jo Inge Berget
Key Subtractions: Andrea Pirlo
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Jesus Medina is clearly the biggest add, but otherwise it was a relatively quiet offseason. That may be ok though, as the club has decent depth at every position and obviously were the only team other than Chicago who looked like it could grab the Shield down the stretch last year.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Their scoring dried up late in the year in 2017 and if that is sustained, along with a dip in David Villa’s form as he approaches 80 years old, this year could be a step back.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Because there’s no reason to think any of that shit will happen. – David Martin
2017 Performance: 20-5-9, 69 points, 1st in the East
Key Additions: Gregory van der Wiel, Ager Aketxe
Key Subtractions: Raheem Edwards, Steven Beitashour
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: What do you do after you’ve climbed the mountain, wrestled a grizzly, and made sweet, sweet love to a vat of maple syrup? For Toronto FC, winners of the 2017 MLS Championship, Supporters’ Shield, and Canadian Championship the answer is to try and do it again. Toronto’s offseason mantra seems to be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” because they’re making very few changes to the murderer’s row of talent that brought home the silverware in 2017. The only major additions appear to be Dutch defender Gregory van der Wiel (from Italian side Cagliari) and former Atletico Bilbao midfielder Ager Aketxe (start brushing up on your Basque, hecklers). Do the men in red have what is takes to defend their hard-won treble dispensation while also mounting a serious grail quest for the eternally elusive CONCACAAF Champions League title? It seems to this humble correspondent that the risk of being spread too thin makes this task more Sisyphean than Heruclean, but — just like that time I told the kids that grandpa was just resting his eyes for a minute — I’ve been wrong before.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: In what will be known as the greatest Montreal Meltdown of all time, a group of merry Impact supporting pranksters will pain a tunnel on the side of a cliff, causing the Toronto FC team bus to drive straight into it and then drop a piano on Michael Bradley’s head, causing all of his teeth to be replaced by piano keys.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Due to a rift in the space-time continuum, the 2017 season repeats itself. (oh god, please no, I can’t take that again). – Luke Cragg
Los Angeles FC
2017 Performance: 0-0-0, 0 points, Did not exist
Key Additions: Bob Bradley, Carlos Vela, Benny Feilhaber, Laurent Ciman, Walker Zimmerman, Latif Blessing, Diego Rossi
Key Subtractions: Chivas USA
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Well, they certainly decided to splash the cash in the offseason bringing in DPs Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Possibly the most important signing is the man on the sidelines, Bob Bradley. He has experience guiding an expansion club to a successful season, albeit many years ago. He definitely knows how to assemble an MLS roster and you should definitely not pay attention to the fact they only have 19 players on their roster as of writing this.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Because they are expansion team which doesn’t have a full fucking roster.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Because there is no god (and if there were she’d hate Minnesota) and they will knock off Atlanta in the Final in Megatron’s Butthole. – David Zeller
2017 Performance: 8-8-18, 32 points, 11th in the West
Key Additions: David Bingham, Ola Kamara, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius
Key Subtractions: Gyasi Zardes, Brian Rowe, Robbie Rogers, Jermaine Jones
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: No team turned over their roster more than the LA Galaxy. The team needed goalkeepers, defenders, a defensive midfielder, and goalscorers and fuck it all if they didn’t manage to bring in new blood at all of those spots. The highlight clearly has to be Ola Kamara coming over from Columbus in exchange for Galaxy RB Gyasi Zardes. Zardes had clearly worn out his welcome and Kamara is a sneaky good goalscorer.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: All of the poison and resentment from last year has stuck and the one weakness of the team, the backline, completely breaks down.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: This team is a legitimate cup contender with arguably the most impressive set of attacking talent. They make a run if that gels and the backline is competent. – David Zeller
2017 Performance: 9-6-19, 33 points, 10th in the West
Key Additions: Edgar Castillo, Joe Mason
Key Subtractions: Alan Gordon
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: They have like, two guys from last year on the team going into 2018. The front office seems to be going with the strategy of shaking up every position and seeing if it turns out better this season. And who can blame them? They finished under Minnesota and unfortunately that means you were really bad.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: All these new players from all over the place fail to gel, they can’t find anyone to score goals, and a bad defense gets even worse. They were close to dead last in 2017 and it could easily come true this season.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: All these new players from all over the place come together, Jack McBean wins the Golden Boot, and Tim Howard plays like there are Belgians coming at him for eight months. There’s pretty much only room to improve. – David Baker
Minnesota United FC
2017 Performance: 10-6-18, 36 points, 9th in the West
Key Additions: Matt Lampson, Bertrand Owundi Eko’o, Luiz Fernando, Tyrone Mears
Key Subtractions: Johan Venegas
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: #PANIC. #MOARPANIC. #MOSTPANIC. It seems hard to find a team that did less to improve their squad than Minnesota. They have issues at almost every position, other than striker and the only one they seemed to address was striker by drafting young project Mason Toye. They brought in Shuttleworth-lite in Lampson. We haven’t seen Eko’o on the backline yet or Luiz Fernando in the midfield, so we’ll see. Trotting out more or less the same starting XI from the end of the year does not bode well.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: This team could very well give up even more goals this year. In fact with Boxall in the lineup I think they absolutely will.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They won’t. – David Zeller
Real Salt Lake
2017 Performance: 10-6-18, 45 points, 8th in West
Key Additions: Pablo Ruiz, Brooks Lennon, Damir Kreilach, Alex Horwath
Key Subtractions: Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler, Omar Holness
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Real Salt Lake added some youthful potential to the roster this offseason, pieces which could become keys to the puzzle under the direction of returning veteran mid, Kyle Beckerman. The addition of Alex Horwath, a veteran back-up to Nick Rimando in goal, hints at a plan to experiment a bit with the backline, which was to be expected with coach Mike Petke running his first preseason with the club. All reports point to an eager squad gradually making progress on new tactics and chemistry; if they keep this attitude, the club could do very well this season.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Every player they declined to carry into 2018 will be picked up by a team happy to use them.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They have Mike Petke at the helm and both he and the club are due for a swan song after a rough couple of seasons. – Bridgett McDowell
2017 Performance: 11-13-10, 46 points, 7th place in the West
Key Additions: Santiago Mosquera, Reto Ziegler, Anton Nedyalkov
Key Subtractions: Walker Zimmerman, Javier Morales
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix…… bahahahaha! The 2016 US Open Cup and Supporter’s Shield winners started 2017 like gangbusters but then completely shit the bed, winning only two of their last fifteen and falling out of the playoffs. So Oscar Pareja basically said “Fuck it, let’s roll it back!” The team lost USMNT player Walker Zimmerman, but brought in a couple of international defenders to shore up the defense.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Because this is basically the same team that dropped points in 13 of their final 15 matches.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Pareja has only ever missed the playoffs once (last year) and FC Dallas was ravaged by injuries. – David Zeller
San Jose Earthquakes
2017 Performance: 13-7-14, 46 points, 6th in West
Key Additions: Eric Calvillo, Magnus Erikksen, Luis Felipe
Key Subtractions: David Bingham, Marcos Urena, Darwin Ceren
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: The Quakes had the busiest offseason of any MLS franchise, replacing nine of the eleven players cut before entering preseason and picking up four potential signings in the Super Draft. Given the defensive minded line-ups of preseason, it’s clear that new head coach Mikael Stahre won’t be straying far from the club’s usual defense-driven tactics. While the success of those tactics are debatable, the mix of young signings and returning vets like Chris Wondolowski projects a refreshed Quakes squad with plenty of promise. They just have to continue their positive preseason chemistry into the regular season.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: The defense seems satisfied with parking the bus inside their own 18.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: A squad of young guns led by Chris Wondolowski is a counter-attacking force that cannot be contained. – Bridget McDowell
Sporting Kansas City
2017 Performance: 12-9-13, 49 points, 5th in West
Key Additions: Yohan Croizet, Khiry Shelton, Johnny Russell, Felipe Gutierrez
Key Subtractions: Benny Feilhaber, Erik Palmer-Brown, Latif Blessing, Andrew Dykstra
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Memories of their 2013 championship run are beginning to fade it is doubtful The Cauldron faithful will accept yet another one-and-done playoff dismissal. Obviously, Peter Vermes’ top priority for 2018 will be to ramp up their anemic offense and shake their knockout round jinx in the playoffs. Like a middle-aged couple trying to spice things up in the bedroom, the plan seems to be to add the exotic elements of Croizet, Russell, and Gutiérrez on the attack and hope that some of the old magic gets rekindled. Their staunch defense remains intact, and they will doubtlessly get plenty of mileage out of Melia’s net minding skills alone.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: An attempt to revive early 2000’s Kansas City mascot The Zardmeister results in mass rioting in Children’s Mercy Park (hereafter to be known as NO MERCY PARK) – the entire team is cannibalized by rampaging fans in a scene worthy of a J.G. Ballard novel.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Heartthrob midfielder Graham Zusi seduces the referee at the Final with one smoldering glance and the ref immediately hands out 11 red cards to the opposing team. – Luke Cragg
2017 Performance: 13-11-10, 50 points, 4th place in the West
Key Additions: Chris Seitz, Arturo Alvarez, Darwin Ceren, Alejandro Fuenmayor
Key Subtractions: Erick “Cubo” Torres, Homegrown player Christian Lucatero, Ricardo Clark, Jalil Anibaba, Alex & certified asshole Tyler Deric
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: There was lots of movement down I-35. Torres had lost his spot to Manotas, who was more than adept at the end of the year. Maybe the most important piece of business was securing Alberth Elis who was on loan. In all this team didn’t get worse and, personally, I think they got better (younger) in the midfield.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Houston is ravaged by another hurricane and all of their players are swept out to the Gulf of Mexico.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Of the teams ahead of them they definitely improved the most and they figure out a way to not be shitty on the road. – David Zeller
2017 Performance: 15-12-7, 52 points, 3rd place in the West
Key Additions: Anthony Blondell, Kei Kamara, Doneil Henry, Efrian Juarez, Brian Rowe
Key Subtractions: Fredy Montero, Christian Bolanos, David Ousted
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Whitecaps have taken a unique approach to their preseason by traveling to Hawai’i to play a series of friendlies against Japanese clubs (who’s got two thumbs and loves Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo? THIS GUY) and then back to the mainland for a 4-4 melee with LAFC (with new kid Blondell netting a brace).
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Brek Shea mixes the wrong hair products to create an airborne toxic event that wipes out the entire team (and most of the western seaboard).
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: They trade Brek Shea to Seattle, and proceeds to kill that entire team instead. – Luke Cragg
2017 Performance: 14-9-11, 53 points, 2nd place in the West
Key Additions: Lamar Neagle, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Weylon Francis
Key Subtractions: Callum Mallace, Joevin Jones, Jordan Morris kind of, Brad Evans
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: This relative quiescence shows that Seattle is not hitting any #PANIC buttons, and instead hoping that same core that had them hoisting a trophy in 2016 and coming in second in 2017 still has some of that old time magic in it. Did I mention that Clint Dempsey will turn 35 in a few weeks? Did I also mention that Jordan Morris is out for most or all of the season with an ACL injury?
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Geritol overdose.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: Old age and treachery will always best youth and exuberance. – Luke Cragg
2017 Performance: 15-8-11, 53 points, 1st in West
Key Additions: Andres Flores, Eryk Williamson, Foster Langsdorf
Key Subtractions: Darlington Nagbe, Gbenga Arokoyo
Their Offseason In Four Or Fewer Sentences: Now that the shock over Caleb Porter’s departure has abated, the Timbers appear well-positioned for yet another successful season. The coaching change was perhaps their biggest move of the offseason, but Nagbe’s departure and the Langsdorf and Williamson signings hint at a long-term plan to nurture a youthful club for continued success in the future. The squad has enough veteran experience to allow Savarese to experiment a bit with the line-up and still come out ahead.
Why They Will Come In Dead Last This Year: Savarese is bound to have Stockholm Syndrome from all his years with the Cosmos, or at least some overdue karma from the Soccer Gods.
Why They Will Win The Treble This Year: The same reason I said they would win the championship last season: “The Timbers are happy little trees, that’s why.” – Bridget McDowell