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Major League Soccer : 2017 MLS season preview

Seattle Sounders win first MLS Cup in franchise history

For the first time in club history, the Seattle Sounders are MLS Cup champions. Despite being outplayed for the vast majority of the match not registering a single shot on goal, Seattle beat Toronto 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after playing a scoreless 120 minutes.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei was the hero for Seattle, recording six saves in regular and extra time before making one stop in the shootout to help the Sounders to the title. Frei was later named the MLS Cup MVP, just the third goalkeeper to win the award in the league's 21-year history.

The Sounders, who joined the league in 2009 after decades in the lower levels of North American soccer, have made the playoffs in every year of their existence, won four US Open Cup titles since joining MLS and claimed the Supporters' Shield in 2014, but had never made it to the title game prior to this year.

teamtitles20122013201420152016
Los Angeles5title1/4title1/81/4
D.C. United41/2-1/41/41/8
Houston2final1/2---
Kansas City21/4title1/81/81/8
San Jose21/4----
Portland1-1/2-title-
Salt Lake11/4final1/4-1/8
Columbus1--1/4final-
Colorado1-1/8--1/2
Chicago11/8----
New England--1/4final1/8-
NY Red Bulls-1/41/41/21/21/4
Dallas---1/41/21/4
Seattle11/21/41/21/4title
Philadelphia-----1/8
Vancouver-1/8-1/81/4-
Montreal--1/8-1/41/2
Toronto----1/8final
NY City-----1/4
Orlando------
Atlanta------
Minnesota------

The overall number of titles for each club in Major League Soccer since 1996 and their success in the last five seasons. Conference finalists (1/2), Conference semi-finalists (1/4), wild-card round (1/8), not qualified for the MLS Playoffs (-).

MLS expansion

Launched with 10 teams in 1996, MLS has plans to expand to 28 teams in the coming years. The two franchises, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, are the 21st and 22nd teams in the league starting this season. The league will add a second Los Angeles club next season, Los Angeles F.C., and a 24th spot is being held for David Beckham's still-hypothetical Miami franchise.

With the league growing at a rapid rate in recent years, new teams entering MLS always draw comparisons to the 1998 Chicago Fire that won the title in just its first year of existence. But since 2007, only one expansion team has reached the playoffs in their inaugural season, Seattle in 2009.

Atlanta United, which has already sold more than 30,000 season tickets, has invested heavily in its roster and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Minnesota does not have a single designated player on its roster, leading some to wonder if the club, also known as the Loons, will be among the worst expansion teams in league history.

LA Galaxy name Curt Onalfo head coach

The LA Galaxy named Curt Onalfo as head coach, promoting their former reserve team boss to replace Bruce Arena. Onalfo, who has previous MLS head coaching experience in D.C. and Kansas City, takes the top job after Arena left to take over the United States national team for the second time. Onalfo, 47, led LA Galaxy II to a 41-20-25 record, three-straight playoff berths and the 2015 USL Western Conference Championship over the last three seasons in the United Soccer League.

This page is introduction to the 2017 Major League Soccer season. Latest news, statistics, results and predictions you can find on our main MLS page.

Houston Dynamo appoint Cabrera as new coach

The Houston Dynamo have hired Wilmer Cabrera as their new coach. He replaces interim coach Wade Barrett, who took over from Owen Coyle in May, was not offered the position on a permanent basis. Cabrera, 49, has a wealth of coaching experience at multiple levels in North America, including time as a head coach and assistant coach in Major League Soccer, United States Under-17 Boys National Team head coach, and most recently the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, the Dynamo's hybrid affiliate in the USL.

#teampointsg.dif.win-draw-loss
Eastern Conference
1New York z571716-9-9
2NY City x54515-9-10
3Toronto x531214-11-9
4D.C. Utd. x46611-13-10
5Montreal x45-411-12-11
6Philadel. x42-311-9-14
7New Eng.42-1011-9-14
8Orlando41-59-14-11
9Columbus36-88-12-14
10Chicago31-167-10-17
Western Conference
1Dallas z601017-9-8
2Colorado x58715-13-6
3LA Galaxy x521512-16-6
4Seattle x48114-6-14
5Kansas x47113-8-13
6Real x46-212-10-12
7Portland44-512-8-14
8Vancouv.39-710-9-15
9San Jose38-88-14-12
10Houston34-67-13-14

The 2016 MLS regular season standings. z - Conference winners, x - clinched playoff spot.

MLS betting odds

Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 finalist Portland and Columbus, both stumbled short of the playoffs. Eleven of the past dozen MLS champions, including the last eight, play in the Western Conference. Toronto, who lost to Seattle in last season's final on their home field, are the likeliest candidate to put an end to that Eastern Conference misery. Meanwhile, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy have the best odds to take home the 2017 MLS Cup, followed by Toronto and Seattle, according to online bookmakers.

teamoddsteamodds
New York Red Bulls7DC United26
LA Galaxy7Columbus Crew26
Toronto7.5Chicago Fire26
Seattle Sounders10Vancouver Whitecaps34
FC Dallas10San Jose Earthquakes34
Colorado Rapids13Real Salt Lake41
New York City17New England Revolution41
Portland Timbers21Houston Dynamo41
Orlando City26Philadelphia Union51
Montreal Impact26Atlanta United67
Kansas City Wizards26Minnesota United201

The preseason odds for the outright winner of the 2017 MLS

Major League Soccer finals (MLS Cup) in last five seasons

2016   Seattle Sounders - Toronto   5:4 (penalties after 0:0)
2015   Portland Timbers - Columbus Crew   2:1
2014   Los Angeles Galaxy - New England   2:1   (aet)
2013   Sporting KC - Real SL   7:6 (penalties after 1:1)
2012   Los Angeles Galaxy - Houston Dynamo   3:1

Key players
(transfer market value in m€)

Atlanta United

Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish (0.2); Defense: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (2.6), Michael Parkhurst (0.8), Greg Garza (0.8), Jeff Larentowicz (0.6); Midfield: Miguel Almiron (5.5), Yamil Asad (2.2), Hector Villalba (2), Carlos Carmona (1.3); Forward: Josef Martinez (2), Kenwyne Jones (0.9).

Chicago Fire

Goalkeeper Matt Lampson (0.4); Defense: Johan Kappelhof (0.9), Joao Meira (0.7), Brandon Vincent (0.6); Midfield: Dax McCarty (1.8), David Accam (1.8), Juninho (1.2), Matt Polster (0.8), Arturo Alvarez (0.7); Forward: Nemanja Nikolics (3.5), Michael de Leeuw (1.5).

Colorado Rapids

Goalkeeper Tim Howard (1.8); Defense: Axel Sjoberg (0.8), Marc Burch (0.7), Mekeil Williams (0.5), Bobby Burling (0.5); Midfield: Shkelzen Gashi (2.5), Dillon Powers (1), Bismark Adjei-Boateng (0.8), Sam Cronin (0.8); Forward: Kevin Doyle (0.8), Dominique Badji (0.5).

Columbus Crew

Goalkeeper Brad Stuver (0.2); Defense: Harrison Afful (0.9), Nicolai Naess (0.7), Waylon Francis (0.7), Hector Jimenez (0.5); Midfield: Ethan Finlay (1.5), Justin Meram (1.3), Federico Higuain (0.9), Mohammed Abu (0.8); Forward: Ola Kamara (1), Adam Jahn (0.5).

D.C. United

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid (0.8); Defense: Steve Birnbaum (1), Bobby Boswell (0.6), Taylor Kemp (0.6); Midfield: Luciano Acosta (1.5), Lamar Neagle (1.3), Patrick Nyarko (0.9), Lloyd Sam (0.9), Nick DeLeon (0.8); Forward: Sebastien Le Toux (0.7), Patrick Mullins (0.7).

Dallas

Goalkeeper Chris Seitz (0.7); Defense: Matt Hedges (1.3), Maynor Figueroa (0.9), Anibal Chala (0.8), Ryan Hollingshead (0.8); Midfield: Carlos Gruezo (1.5), Roland Lamah (1.5), Mauro Diaz (1.3), Michael Barrios (0.8); Forward: Maximiliano Urruti (1), Tesho Akindele (0.9).

Houston Dynamo

Goalkeeper Joe Willis (0.5); Defense: A.J. DeLaGarza (0.8), Jalil Anibaba (0.5), DaMarcus Beasley (0.5); Midfield: Juan David Cabezas (0.7), Alex (0.7), Eric Alexander (0.6), Boniek Garcia (0.5); Forward: Andrew Wenger (0.9), Erick Torres (0.8), Mauro Manotas (0.5).

Los Angeles Galaxy

Goalkeeper Brian Rowe (0.7); Defense: Jelle Van Damme (1.3), Robbie Rogers (0.8), Daniel Steres (0.6), Ashley Cole (0.5); Midfield: Romain Alessandrini (3.5), Jermaine Jones (1.8), Joao Pedro (1), Sebastian Lletget (0.9); Forward: Giovani dos Santos (6), Gyasi Zardes (2).

Minnesota United

Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth (0.7); Defense: Jerome Thiesson (0.9), Vadim Demidov (0.5), Jermaine Taylor (0.5), Francisco Calvo (0.4); Midfield: Kevin Molino (0.8), Johan Venegas (0.7), Mohammed Saeid (0.5), Rasmus Schuller (0.5); Forward: Christian Ramirez (0.5), Abu Danladi (0.2).

Montreal Impact

Goalkeeper Evan Bush (0.7); Defense: Laurent Ciman (2), Ambroise Oyongo (0.8), Victor Cabrera (0.6), Chris Duvall (0.5); Midfield: Ignacio Piatti (2), Hernan Bernardello (0.8), Dominic Oduro (0.8), Adrian Arregui (0.7); Forward: Matteo Mancosu (0.9), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (0.3).

New England Revolution

Goalkeeper Brad Knighton (0.5); Defense: Benjamin Angoua (1.5), Chris Tierney (0.8), Andrew Farrell (0.8); Midfield: Lee Nguyen (1.8), Xavier Kouassi (1.3), Diego Fagundez (1), Kelyn Rowe (1); Forward: Kei Kamara (1), Teal Bunbury (0.9), Juan Agudelo (0.8).

New York City

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson (0.8); Defense: Maxime Chanot (1), Frederic Brillant (0.7), Ronald Matarrita (0.5), R,J, Allen (0.5); Midfield: Maxi Moralez (3), Andrea Pirlo (1), Rodney Wallace (1), Yangel Herrera (0.9), Tommy McNamara (0.9); Forward: David Villa (3).

New York Red Bulls

Goalkeeper Luis Robles (1.5); Defense: Kemar Lawrence (1.3), Aurelien Collin (0.6), Sal Zizzo (0.6), Gideon Baah (0.5); Midfield: Sacha Kljestan (2), Mike Grella (1), Daniel Royer (0.9), Felipe Martins (0.9); Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips (1.8), Gonzalo Veron (0.7).

Orlando City

Goalkeeper Joe Bendik (0.5); Defense: Jonathan Spector (1), Seb Hines (0.5), Donny Toia (0.5), Scott Sutter (0.5); Midfield: Kaka (2), Carlos Rivas (1), Will Johnson (0.8), Cristian Higuita (0.8); Forward: Cyle Larin (2.5), Giles Barnes (0.9).

Philadelphia Union

Goalkeeper Andre Blake (0.8); Defense: Keegan Rosenberry (0.8), Ken Tribbett (0.5), Richie Marquez (0.5); Midfield: Alejandro Bedoya (2), Ilson Jr, (1.8), Haris Medunjanin (1.5), Roland Alberg (1), Chris Pontius (0.7); Forward: Charlie Davies (0.7), C.J. Sapong (0.6).

Portland Timbers

Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (0.8); Defense: Liam Ridgewell (1.5), Gbenga Arokoyo (1), Alvas Powell (0.7); Midfield: Sebastian Blanco (4.2), Diego Valeri (2), Darlington Nagbe (1.8), Diego Chara (0.7), Dairon Asprilla (0.6); Forward: Fanendo Adi (1.8), Darren Mattocks (0.8).

Real Salt Lake City

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando (0.6); Defense: Tony Beltran (0.8), David Horst (0.5), Chris Wingert (0.5); Midfield: Albert Rusnak (1.5), Joao Plata (1.5), Luke Mulholland (1), Kyle Beckerman (0.7), Sunny (0.7); Forward: Yura Movsisyan (3), Luis Silva (0.6).

San Jose Earthquakes

Goalkeeper David Bingham (0.6); Defense: Victor Bernardez (0.6), Marvell Wynne (0.5), Shaun Francis (0.4); Midfield: Jahmir Hyka (1.3), Florian Jungwirth (1), Simon Dawkins (0.8), Darwin Ceren (0.7); Forward: Chris Wondolowski (1), Quincy Amarikwa (1), Danny Hoesen (0.8).

Seattle Sounders

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei (0.6); Defense: Roman Torres (0.6), Brad Evans (0.5), Chad Marshall (0.5); Midfield: Nicolas Lodeiro (5.5), Harry Shipp (0.8), Gustav Svensson (0.8), Alvaro Fernandez (0.8); Forward: Clint Dempsey (3), Jordan Morris (0.9), Will Bruin (0.9).

Sporting Kansas City

Goalkeeper Timothy Melia (0.6); Defense: Matt Besler (1), Jimmy Medranda (0.6), Saad Abdul-Salaam (0.6); Midfield: Gerso (1.3), Roger Espinoza (1), Benny Feilhaber (0.9), Soni Mustivar (0.8), Graham Zusi (0.7); Forward: Dom Dwyer (1.8), Diego Rubio (0.5).

Toronto

Goalkeeper Clint Irwin (0.6); Defense: Justin Morrow (0.8), Steven Beitashour (0.7), Drew Moor (0.5), Chris Mavinga (0.5); Midfield: Michael Bradley (3), Victor Vazquez (1.8), Jonathan Osorio (0.8), Marco Delgado (0.7); Forward: Sebastian Giovinco (9.5), Jozy Altidore (2.5).

Vancouver Whitecaps

Goalkeeper David Ousted (0.7); Defense: Kendall Waston (0.7), Jordan Harvey (0.7), Brek Shea (0.7), Tim Parker (0.6); Midfield: Cristian Techera (0.8), Matias Laba (0.8), Kekuta Manneh (0.7), Andrew Jacobson (0.7); Forward: Fredy Montero (6), Yordy Reyna (0.8).

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