Offseason Checklists: Western Conference

Offseason Checklists: Western Conference

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On December 15, 2010
  • 2010 Offseason Checklists

Keeping Omar Cummings is a big part of the Colorado offseason checklist. (Brian Stevens for

The other day I took a look at each eastern conference side to see what items they needed to do this winter. Today is all about the other side of the MLS world in the western conference. Now I am keeping the two expansion clubs out of this discussion for now. I’ll likely do a piece on each team before the SuperDraft to see where they are at on things.

Chivas USA

Things never really took off for Chivas USA this year. The club lost a couple solid players like Sacha Kljestan and were on course to lose Jonathan Bornstein over the winter. Now the club is searching for a new identity all over the field as well as a new coach to lead them into the new season.

  • Find a new coach – Whether it is Juan Carlos Osorio, Jesse Marsch, Eric Wynalda or whoever the club needs to find a new coach by Christmas or they’ll be set back quite a bit going into the SuperDraft next month.
  • Re-tool the defense – Biggest area for needed improvement for the AmeriGoats is their defense. Finding a couple center backs plus getting some speed on the outside will go a long way in getting them back in contention.
  • Sign a DP – Make the investment and make it a good one. They need to go with either a big time playmaker or someone who can score lots of goals…hell or both. One thing is for sure this club needs to show to their fans that they are willing to spend.
  • Invest in a culture – This club needs an overhaul on their identity going into the new year. Find something and stick to it.

Colorado Rapids

It was a big, big year in Colorado for the Rapids. A MLS Cup and a roster full of guys that just seemed to make things happen at the right moment.  But with that new star on their jersey will come more games in the 2011 season which will certainly test the depth of this club.

  • Keep Omar – As a MLS fan I don’t want to see Omar Cummings go anywhere. I’m sure Rapids fans know that feeling too. The Rapids need to make Cummings their top priority if they haven’t already this winter. Get him into a long-term deal that will benefit both sides.
  • Continue Building Depth – They’ve already started well by keeping Anthony Wallace after the Expansion Draft and then getting Joseph Nane from Toronto. They’ll need more than just that going into next year though. Adding more depth to their wing play in the midfield is vital as well as beefing up their defense even more.
  • Capitalize on success – Fans love champions, so market the living crap out of this MLS Cup win. Bank on it with a jersey sponsorship and some new season ticket holders.
  • Bring in the youth – Time to expand their youth system and get it going in high gear. They’ll need that extra depth from within due to the extra games in 2011.

FC Dallas

I knew going into 2010 that FC Dallas would have something special. Sure enough the club had a 19-game unbeaten run and were able to reach their first MLS Cup only to fall short in extra time to the Rapids. Building on that won’t be easy as new challenges will come in their way in 2011.

  • Give Ferriera a DP tag – The league MVP wants to stay in Dallas and the club has an option on his loan so why not make it permanent and give him a DP tag similar to Fredy Montero’s deal in Seattle.
  • Find another striker – I have a gut feeling they’ll get Jeff Cunningham back after today’s Re-Entry draft. I don’t see someone picking him up and that’s good because he wants to stay in Dallas from what I’ve been told. Thing is Cunningham isn’t enough for 2011. They need a proven No. 11 to score at least 10-15 goals in 2011.
  • Continue drafting well – Hyndman has a system and it works believe it or not. His scouting in the draft proved to be very good last year in late picks like Eric Alexander and even their first pick of Zac Loyd. Building on that won’t be easy with the 17th pick in next month’s draft but Hyndman can find gems anywhere.
  • Bank on the success of 2010 – Early season ticket reports suggest FCD will improve at the gate next year but I do wonder by how much. Going from 10k a game to just 11 or 12k a game won’t make too much difference. Time to market the success of the team better as Dallas loves a winner.

Houston Dynamo

After seeing the Dynamo in the season opener here in Dallas I knew one thing was certain, it would be a long year for the men in Orange. The club clearly needed to be rebuilt but no one there seemed to think it would be needed in 2010. Now moving forward to 2011 it’s clear the Dynamo are in need of a facelift.

  • Retool the D – The Dynamo defense went from being one of the most feared to one of the weakest in a year’s time. Finding a couple quality center backs to compliment Geoff Cameron in the midfield will be a start.
  • Go young – We know what kind of coach Dominic Kinnear is and honestly he is great at finding young gems and turning them into stars. Look at what he’s done with Danny Cruz over the past two years. Finding more young talent with their academy system and this year’s SuperDraft are key in their rebuilding as they have a deep youth system.
  • Find the right DP – If you don’t succeed, try again. That should be the moto with the Dynamo in their DP search this time around. I honestly believe they need to go big in landing a top level Mexican or South American as a DP. No more guys like Luis Angel Landin.
  • Break ground – Let’s all hope that the Dynamo can finally get to putting shovels in the dirt on their stadium this winter. It could be their biggest offseason move if they do.

LA Galaxy

Don’t call the 2010 Galaxy a disappointment even though they were the Supporter’s Shield winners and failed to reach the MLS Cup finals after getting blown away by FC Dallas at home. The Galaxy were the top dog nearly all season long for a few reasons and going in to the offseason they’ll need to add more depth to improve on that impressive campaign.

  • Buddle’s partner – For Buddle to repeat his 17-goal outburst of 2010, he’ll need a big time partner in 2011. If its Landon Donovan great. If not it needs to be someone that can put away those crosses from Donovan and David Beckham when Buddle fails to.
  • Keep the Brazilian pipeline going – Their three Brazilian loans this past year were really a stroke of genius by Bruce Arena, especially getting Juninho. Keeping him and getting others like him in skill this winter could improve their chances going forward in 2011.
  • Get some speed in the D – One of the biggest areas of concern was their defense, even as great as it was in 2010. They just lack the wheels to stay with some clubs though and adding some youth with speed in the back will keep them in the Supporter’s Shield discussion again in 2011.
  • More depth – The limited depth that they do have is good but adding to it has to be done this winter in the SuperDraft and through their youth system. With additional games for the club and a busy summer for guys like Donovan and Buddle with the USMNT the Galaxy have to account for everything.

Real Salt Lake

How do you improve a team that was damn near impossible to beat at times in 2010? Believe it or not there are some areas that Jason Kreis’ club can improve on going into 2011.

  • Depth across the board – If they are as serious about winning the CCL this coming spring they need the added depth to make it happen. Keeping Alvaro Saborio was key but adding around him will also go a long way in getting this club to the top of the CONCACAF mountain.
  • A second striker – Robbie Findley is gone, but in some ways he was gone after the World Cup for this club. Time to find that perfect partner for Saborio in the Findley replacement. Go with speed like Findley but find someone with a finishing touch that will make folks in Sandy forget Findley’s name.
  • Get younger – I know Kreis and company are slowly building their youth system and aren’t taking too many chances with it after getting burned by Freddy Adu a few years back. Time to really move on from that and take the training wheels off the bike and improve the depth of this club with some youngsters from their quality academy system.
  • Get hungrier – They want the CCL title which is great to see but they can’t have a drop off in league play. Staying hungry to finish what they started in 2010 will be key in 2011 for this bunch. The band is staying together so they should all be eager to get back to a MLS Cup as well here.

San Jose Earthquakes

The Quakes were one of the big surprises in 2010 by reaching the eastern conference finals after beating New York in Red Bull Arena. Frank Yallop was on the hot seat going into 2010 but he re-worked his defense and found ways to make the most out of his roster.

  • Find health – When this bunch was healthy they were a tough nut to crack but holes in the back due to injuries showed their weaknesses at times this season. They must find ways to stay healthy in 2011 if they want to stay in the playoff discussion.
  • Add defensive depth – They were constantly tested in the back with their depth in 2010 and for the most part they were okay. But adding to their depth in the back will go a long way in 2011. I see them as a club that drafts defense first in next month’s draft.
  • Build around Wondo – If Chris Wondolowski is indeed your man going forward, make it so with giving him help on offense. They gutted part of their offensive roster this winter already by not re-signing Eduardo and Geovanni. Finding guys that compliment how Wondolowski plays will determine whether or not he’s in the Golden Boot race next season and if they are in the playoff race.
  • Move dirt – Like Houston they are a club that needs to get shovels in dirt soon enough for their stadium.

Seattle Sounders FC

The sophomore campaign in Seattle had it’s highs and lows but overall the club made some serious strides moving forward in 2010. They showed they are a true contender here and are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their main guys a part of this team.

  • Improve midfield depth – Staying healthy and getting Brad Evans back full time is one thing but adding to the depth on the wings and in the defensive side of things should be tops on their list.
  • Defensive improvement – They were patching up their defense left and right in 2010 due to injuries but they have to find a steady pair of centerbacks in 2011. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado should be back full time and finding a big, physical, speed partner for him in the back will be key.
  • Settle on DPs – Outside of Fredy Montero their two DPs of 2010 were Alvaro Fernández and Blaise Nkufo. Both had some mixed results and the club already stated they wouldn’t be going after any other high profile contracts this season. Time to get those two ready for a full season or else!
  • I-5 fun – Portland and Vancouver are finally in MLS with Seattle. Time for the Sounders to own the rivalry in the first year to set the tone for things to come with these three in the future. Losing the Cascadia Cup in year one of it’s MLS existence cannot happen for Sounder fans.