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Haters guide to the 2018 MLS Season: Eastern conference part 1

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Aimlessness

MLS Soccer - Los Angeles Galaxy v Portland Timbers Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

Welcome to the “Hater’s Guide to the Eastern Conference: Part One” in which Parker Cleveland and J. Sam Jones tell you how to feel about half of the teams in the Eastern Conference that are not Atlanta United.

As always minimal effort has been put into this. There has been little research, next to zero editing and there’s a legitimate chance that you won’t find any of this entertaining in any way. As a commenter once eloquently stated even after reading a disclaimer about how dumb and irrevocably pointless this article would be…

“This is a waste of time. Nothing here folks.”

But first! We answer your questions...

Wait isn’t this part 2?

No it’s part 1 of the East, we did part 1 of the West last time.

Isn’t that a little confusing? I mean you’re doing 4 parts, with 2 of each conferences?

Exactly.

So did Parker just not think through the numbering or what’s going on here?

.........Yes.

Isn’t Parker an editor for the site?

..........It’s spelled edtior.

What’s the deal with the “Hot Take” “Cold Take” Section? There’s no distinction between the two. Do you guys even know?

.........Yes?

This is going to be the dumbest thing I read all day isn’t it?

Yes!

J. Sam Jones:

Toronto FC

2017

They failed to beat Ottawa Fury F.C. in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal.

What’s New

You know the old saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it but if it is you should probably fix it you don’t want it to be broke”? Well, shockingly, a broken team that lost 2-1 to Ottawa Fury F.C. of the USL in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal has done practically nothing to fix it except add above-average Dutch fullback Gregory van der Wiel. It’s essentially the same team.

Hot Take

This team may get back on track.

Cold Take

They will once again struggle if they face Ottawa Fury Football Club.

Will We Beat Them?

Atlanta United definitely would beat Ottawa Fury F.C. It stands to reason that they’ll beat Toronto at home on Aug. 4 and on the road Oct. 28.

New England Revolution

2017

More or less.

What’s New?

The Revs fired manager Jay Heaps — a hire that met strong initial criticism due to Heaps’ lack of managing experience — to hire American goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel, a hire that has met strong initial criticism due to Friedel’s lack of managing experience. Friedel spent one year managing the American U-19’s and part of a year as an assistant coach for the U-20’s. This will absolutely 100% go well, especially if Friedel can harness the attacking prowess of talented players like midfielder Lee Ngu———————-----—-

Lee Nguyen is requesting to be traded and hasn’t reported to training camp. At least they still have a quality goal scorer to supply some firepower in Kei Kama—————

Kei Kamara has been traded to Vancouver. It could be a real long year in Boston, y’all.

Hot Take

They won’t finish last in the conference?

Cold Take

They might finish last in the conference.

Will We Beat Them?

The Five Stripes to New England on May 6 where we will definitely beat them. New England comes to MBS on Oct. 6 where we will also definitely beat them. I mean, remember what happened last time?

Parker Cleveland:

Chicago Fire Soccer Club

2017

After spending much of the past few years as the butt of a lot of jokes in the Eastern Conference, this was a club that surprised a lot of people in 2017. First they made a big move and brought in Dax McCarty, but while everyone was paying attention to that they also brought in Nemanja Nikolic in pre-season. The results were pretty unimpressive... that is until they brought in Bastian Schweinsteiger to help them win the World Cup. Schweni made the Fire a contender in the East. Their defense was stalwart at games played in Bridgeview with only 14 goals allowed in 17 games.

For a time it seemed like they would even threaten for to make a run at the Supporters’ Shield. Alas, it was not meant to be. The New York Red Bulls essentially dispatched the Fire in less than a half in their playoff meeting and the only hardware the team came away with was Nikolic’s golden boot.

What’s New?

Chicago said good bye to David Accam, sending him to Philadelphia after the player’s relationship with Veljko Paunovic soured when the manager neglected to include the winger on the All-Star Team. In exchange for Accam, the Fire welcomed a big pile of allocation money, along with a bonkers sell on fee - if the Union sell the player within 6 months of the trade, Chicago gets 90% of the fee. Philly better hope the Ghanaian likes Pennsylvania.

Other new pieces include Serbian winger Aleksander Katai, his bad temper, and... some draft picks and other role players. Oh, and they traded all of their goal keepers except for my cousin (not really) Stefan Cleveland - probably thinking that any goalkeeper named Stefan is capable of scaring the ball away from the net. Apparently, the Iker Casillas plan didn’t come through yet, so they’ll be relying on a player with 0 MLS starts to begin the year in goal.

Hot Take

I guess things could go OK for them this season? Chicago really cleaned house after a fairly successful season last year. They’re looking for a no. 10 though it seems like they have some less than perfect options to fill that role. While the roster moves look a little... suspect, getting rid of an unhappy player can only help the team. At best, the Fire could continue to be a complete nightmare to try to break down on defense regardless of who is at keeper and Schweinsteiger will stay healthy to orchestrate the attack. Nikolic showed he could score goals in the league and if he keeps it up, the Fire could again be one of the best teams in the East.

Cold Take

The potential is here for the team to take a big step back in 2018. Dax McCarty is another year older and if he shows why the Red Bulls were so willing to part with him, that defensive cohesion will be completely lost. Schweinsteiger is another year older also and could be keeping the training staff busy yet again in 2018. The current goalkeeper situation with the team may have them missing Matt Lampson (who?). With the uncertainty swirling around the team, it’s difficult to see them being a team that does much more than fight for a lower seed playoff spot in 2018.

Will we beat them?

With Greg Maddux on the hill, the Cubs batters will have a hard time getting on base and an even harder time scoring. David Justice should continue to have success against the atrocious Chicago pitching while Fred McGriff should feast off of the short porch in right field... Forgot where and when I was for a minute and made myself sad about the state of the Braves all at the same time. United will beat the Fire in Chicago on May 5th and absolutely demolish them when they host them at MBS in the last home game of the season on October 21st. Aggregate score 10-2

New York Red Bulls

2017

The New York Red Bulls spent 2017 being complete frauds. They began the year by trading away their team captain Dax McCarty to the aforementioned Fire giving Sean Davis a chance to patrol central midfield. He was really not up for that job and was shuttled around the field and in and out of the starting lineup all season. Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan led the league in fake assists and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a significant number of trash goals.

All of this looked like a good team, and beating a depleted Chicago Fire squad in the playoffs seemed to affirm that, until they met Toronto FC in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Realizing they couldn’t actually play soccer against them, the team did their usual and threw tantrums and flopped all over the field - losing in true impostor fashion.

What’s New?

Well they traded Sacha Kljestan to Orlando so the new most irritating player on the squad is officially - and probably always was - Felipe. Aside from that, maybe they’re going to hand the club over to a bunch of teenagers who can actually run and just try to press teams into submission.

They added attacking midfielder Marc Rzatkowski from Red Bull (no the other one - not the Swiss Austrian one, the German one), to fill in for Kljestan. In addition, they got rid of failed DP Gonzalo Veron and brought in failed DP Carlos Rivas along with Tommy Redding from Orlando. Any team with Orlando players on it is going to struggle. Otherwise they’re looking to build on the investment they’ve made in their youth academy and see where that takes them.

Hot Take

The best this team can hope for is that the young players adapt to playing against adults in the league, the rigors of playing a full MLS schedule, and that it pays off. The best case scenario is that Alex Muyl continues to develop on the wing while Rzatkowski can fill in effectively for Kljestan.

Cold Take

Whatever you say about Sacha Kljestan, he can hit a through ball. Without a player giving him that kind of service, BWP could see his effectivness reduced. Playing the kids is one thing, but NYRB may be a glorified U-23 team this year and if the youngs don’t settle into the league, it could be a long season. Manager Jesse Marsch made several tactical innovations last year including - park the bus against Atlanta and demolish a very demolishable Orlando City. His other tactical innovation was the infamous, fail to hold a late lead.

The Red Bulls are probably a playoff team and will be able to press bad teams while having to resort to flopping and crying to the ref against sides with more talent.

Will we beat them?

Unless Jesse Marsch learned Spanish and figured out that Tata was giving his team tactical adjustments rather than telling them to kick his very kickable players, they won’t continue to be unbeaten against Atlanta. NYRB comes to Atlanta on May 20 and hosts the Five Stripes on September 30 where they will lose twice to United by a combined score of 4-1.

Montreal Impact

2017

“Il m’a demandé alors si je n’étais pas intéressé par un changement de vie. J’ai répondu qu’on ne changeait jamais de vie, qu’en tout cas toutes se valaient et que la mienne ici ne me déplaisait pas du tout. Il a eu l’air mécontent, m’a dit que je répondais toujours à côté, que je n’avais pas d’ambition et que cela était désastreux dans les affaires. Je suis retourné travailler alors. J’aurais préféré ne pas le mécontenter, mais je ne voyais pas de raison pour changer ma vie.”

That’s great, but isn’t it just a quote from the Stranger?

Yes. I look upon the 2017 Montreal Impact season as a kind of commentary on the absurdity and pointlessness of life. Montreal finished 9th, they had one of the most unremarkable seasons in MLS this side of Minnesota - you live - you die - there is no meaning deeper than that.

What’s New?

Does it matter? There’s nothing you can truly control in life, things happen to you regardless of your influence on their cause. In other words the Impact signed Clement Diop. They also traded Laurent Ciman to LAFC in exchange for Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards and sold Ballou Tabla to FC Barcelona. They did add central midfielder and Algerian national teamer Saphir Taïder. They also brought in Remi Garde, former coach of such powerhouse teams as Aston Villa, to manage the team.

Hot Take

Apparently the Impact leadership believes if it can finish 9th with a former MLS Defender of the Year it can do just as well without him. They might just be right, as talented as Ciman is, he’s also a frequently caught out of position and Montreal didn’t seem to find a good partner for him in central defense. Perhaps Garde can figure out a way for the team to more effectively stay compact and tidy up the 58 goals allowed while keeping them as a deadly team on the counter.

Cold Take

Nacho Piatti is basically the entire key to the Poutine Princes’ attack. He missed six games last year with injury, but still matched his 2016 goal total with 17. If his 33 year old body doesn’t hold up and the defense isn’t much better, the team could finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Will we beat them?

This team finished 9th last year and traded their best defender. Atlanta hosts them on April 28th and then goes north of the border on July 28th. The aggregate could very well be pushing 8-1, this should be 6 points for the Five Stripes in 2018.