Normally I never do lists like this but I’m in the holiday spirit still even after Christmas. The end of 2012 is upon us and I’ll admit, this has been a very interesting but good year in MLS.
Below are some of the top moments I came up with from this past year. Feel free to add your’s in below. Mine are in no particular order either – for whatever that is worth.
- The Goonies of San Jose run wild. No one predicted this at the start of the year. I mean no one. The San Jose Earthquakes ran all over MLS in 2012. Chris Wondolowski tied the all-time regular season goal scoring mark with 27(!) goals. I had written this club off after a disappointing 2011, but they bounced back and proved me and everyone wrong about them.
- LA repeats. While MLS is changing and improving each and every year, one thing remains the same until the playoff format improves – you get hot late and you’ll be rewarded. For the LA Galaxy they were really the league’s top side from late July on though. Not many took them nearly as serious as they should have late in the year but the writing was on the wall for a repeat once the playoffs hit. There was too much talent and skill not to repeat. David Beckham goes out of MLS a champion finishing his storybook career with the Galaxy.
- Montreal joins the fold. The 19th MLS club has been a successful one up in Montreal. We all figured the Impact would be a good addition to the league but I honestly see them as a great one. Their games at the Olympic Stadium were great and once they opened up Saputo Stadium, things got rolling as the expansion side nearly reached the playoffs in their inaugural season.
- Houston opens up their new home. BBVA Compass Stadium seemed like a pipe-dream a couple years ago in Houston but now it is way more than that. The Dynamo opened up their new digs this summer and ended up making it a fortress of their own, going unbeaten there. Just three more stadiums to go with San Jose already putting shovels in the ground. D.C. and New England will get there, I have faith they will.
- Key players return from nasty injuries. While 2011 was the year of the injury, 2012 was the year of the returns. Steve Zakuani finally came back in Seattle, did well, and even proved that he still has a ton to offer. David Ferreira came back in the summer to help guide FC Dallas back into the playoff haunt. Others like Chris Pontius and Alan Gordan also came back from injuries that ended their 2011 season early to good form in 2012.
- Discipline committee reigns over it all. No one was safe from the MLS DC in 2012. One wrong move on the field and you could expect a fine or a suspension. Many complained about the way the MLS DC handed down their suspensions and sometimes the timing of them were not great for certain clubs but one thing is certain, it is keeping everyone on their toes about acting proper.
- SKC ends Seattle’s USOC run. This one was a fun one to watch, and selfishly I wanted a repeat of it in the MLS Cup. That didn’t happen however. Sporting KC ended up hosting the USOC final against the Seattle Sounders and took full advantage of it in the process as they claimed their first trophy in nearly a decade, ending the Sounders run at four straight USOC titles.
- Cascadia Cup fun. We got used to what the Cascadia Cup could be in 2011 but boy did it get so much more intense in 2012 as the Portland Timbers won the trophy. The big moment was still seeing 67k fans in Seattle for the Sounders-Timbers match. No one will forget the giant tifo displays between the Sounders and Timbers in their home meetings with one another.
- The sagas in Philly and Toronto. Boy, we were all wrong about the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC going into 2012. I didn’t expect greatness out of each club but I thought Toronto was a playoff team. Boy was I dead wrong on that. Both fired their managers early on and neither did very well in the end. Toronto’s saga was more interesting as it took some crazy twists and turns. Philadelphia appears to at least be getting back on course for 2013.
- MLS eyes NY expansion. Sure, this one has been talked about a lot on this blog but it’s worth another mention in the list to end the year. MLS announced their big intentions about placing a second club in New York, their 20th team for a potential start in 2016. They got the money for a stadium and are now looking for a big time owner to step up and take over. Gotta think 2013 will be all about that story and actually building this stadium in Queens.