The big news in the MLS offseason was clearly that David Beckham has moved on to Paris. However, life will go on and there are tons of other exceptional players still residing in the league, though I fear none are quite as handsome as the former England captain. Oh well. After Beckham capped a glorious exit with a MLS Cup victory with the Los Angeles Galaxy, what do we have in store for us in 2013 in America’s favorite soccer league?
Look out for D.C. United. After finishing last year in 3rd place overall in the MLS standings, D.C. United reached the Conference Finals before succumbing to the powerful defence of the Houston Dynamo. D.C. United has a great balance of promising youth and veteran leaders on their team. The main star and creative force is Canadian Dwayne De Rosario. At 34 years old, he has shown the wisdom to make smart plays and still has enough in the tank to lead this team to greatness. But what excites me most is this team’s promising young crop of players highlighted by MLS Rookie of the Year runner-up Nick DeLeon. The 7th choice in last year’s MLS draft had a fantastic season in midfield capped off by a glorious last gasp goal against the New York Red Bulls in the last season’s conference semi-finals in a heated match facing stars like Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill. Such poise and big-game impact makes me believe that DeLeon is for real. Additionally, this team has a great young goalkeeper in Bill Hamid, who has already earned a cap with the USA National Team and is just 22 years old. 25-year-old striker Chris Pontius has been steadily rising in his first few years in the league and appears set to be a crucial player in 2013. The team also traded for Casey Townsend, the number 5 pick in last year’s draft who could become an integral young star in D.C. United’s future. This team looks destined for greatness and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them late in the MLS Cup playoffs again this year.
Will the Galaxy win 3 MLS Cups in a row? With Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane still pulling the strings offensively, this Galaxy team is still a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps some of the allure will be missing without Beckham, but they will still be among the best teams in the MLS. Their backline is also impressive with both Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant. Dunivant is a steely MLS veteran while Gonzalez is a 24-year-old star in the making who has earned several call-ups to the American National team. I think that the task of winning a 3rd straight MLS Cup may be too tall an order for the Galaxy, but they will be in the conversation throughout the year and are rightly one of the favorites.
2013 looks sure to provide another exciting season of MLS soccer. Play is set to begin in just 2 weeks and will surely see interesting new happenings in the game. I do sense that this could be the Red Bulls’ year since Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry will have had more time to gel with one another and should become a great tandem. There will be a long ways to go this season to see how it all plays out. Get ready for some MLS soccer soon!