Each year around this time I make a list – similar to Santa Claus – only this list is for each MLS side. The wants and needs for each really at this festive time of the year. Most clubs are as active as ever right now as the new transfer window will set to open here soon, along with the SuperDraft in the coming weeks.
So as I finish my holiday shopping tonight (or likely tomorrow, I’m a sucker for a last minute deal), here are the few items I see each club needing going into the New Year.
Chicago Fire: Midfield playmaker. Last year’s wish of a kit sponsor came true in the form of Quaker Oats. Things have been looking up for this club for a while now but I believe they are one big playmaker in the middle of the field away from being a big contender in the east.
Chivas USA: Some self identity, new home. So they have a coach and some sort of new found direction from their owner but does Chivas really know what kind of identity they want here? Furthermore, I think the bigger deal may be finding a new home in LA. Getting out of the shadows of the Galaxy is key for growing this brand/club.
Colorado Rapids: A partner for Omar Cummings, defensive help. 2012 was a rough year for first-year head coach Oscar Pareja. He wasn’t able to switch to a 4-3-3 like he wanted to early on and the health of his team was an issue. With Conor Casey off the books and some holes to fill in the back, the Rapids have a good amount of work to do this winter to get back into the contending mode in the crowded Western Conference.
Columbus Crew: Defensive depth, more investors. I think their offense will continue to improve with guys like Jairo Arrieta getting a full pre-season with the Crew. But defensively they’ll need to get more depth after their big cuts this offseason. After that finding more local investors for the club is still a vital need going forward.
DC United: Land to go with shovels in the ground. They say they are getting closer each day to a stadium deal but no one will believe it until they have the land and shovels in the ground to prove it. Everywhere else this club is going back in the right direction but they need a stadium in the worst possible way.
FC Dallas: Healthy players, Direction in the CEO position and a striker. Dallas has plenty of needs this winter but they are quickly addressing them one-by-one. George John re-signing was big. But ever since CEO Doug Quinn got arrested and went on a leave of absence the direction from the top seems to be in question. Fans are eager to move past the unfortunate news of Quinn and get someone new in there to lead the club. After that getting a second striker to go along with Blas Perez is big, just as big as having a fully healthy team in 2013.
Houston Dynamo: More depth. I said the same thing last year going into the offseason, they needed depth. I still feel that is where this club needs attention at. They have re-signed some key guys like Adam Moffat and Brad Davis but with more games once again on the menu in 2013, adding more pieces will be key to getting back to a MLS Cup for a third straight year.
LA Galaxy: A new DP, a healthy Donovan. David Beckham is finally out of the picture so does LA go for a DP that is as good of a brand as Beckham or do they go for someone that will get more results on the field like Robbie Keane? I’d rather them go for another Keane kind of signing. After that they need Landon Donovan to return healthy both mentally and physically. I’d imagine he will, which will be good news all around for everyone.
Montreal Impact: New coach, and better defense. Just like with any expansion club of recent memory, the Impact weren’t the best at keeping the ball out of the back of their own net. They’ll need some more pieces added to the back while also finding the next coach to lead this club.
New England Revolution: Patience and hope. Jay Heaps did alright in his first year as head coach but the hope in this club quickly faded once some players got hurt, the defense acted busted, the road results were bad or when the offense didn’t show up again. New England still has many needs for 2013 but I’d say the biggest for the fans is to have hope and patience that this club will return to the team that they saw go to a few MLS Cups just a few years ago.
New York Red Bulls: More consistency, a new coach and some luck. So many things need to go right for the Red Bulls to actually be successful in MLS. They have to get consistent in their play – more importantly they must be consistent in their play down the stretch in the season. Second of all, they need a new coach to step in and lead this bunch of players. But last and possibly the most important thing, they need some luck to carry them. I don’t think this club has been too lucky in the past. Good teams find luck and run with it, New York in the past tends to overlook it.
Philadelphia Union: A midfield leader. It just wasn’t all there in 2012 for Philadelphia. Peter Nowak didn’t help things out and even after his departure things really didn’t turn around that well. But things are looking up as Jeff Parke as joined the team and Sebastien Le Toux has returned. Now they need a big time playmaker in the middle to link it all together.
Portland Timbers: Chemistry. Portland has certainly been one of the most active clubs so far this offseason with Celeb Porter set to take over as head coach. But with all of the moves going on and even the ones to come, this club still needs a bit of chemistry to tie it all together. Porter and the Timbers won’t be any good if the new faces don’t mesh well with the old ones.
Real Salt Lake: Making the most of their new cap space. We knew this club would get broken up sooner or later and now that time has come. Jamison Olave is gone, Will Johnson is out and Fabian Espindola has moved on. Plus a slew of other players as well. The cap space is big now for this club to go out and re-invent themselves. They still have a strong core of players but adding in the right pieces to get them back on top will be the biggest key this winter.
San Jose Earthquakes: Time for depth. Hey, 2012 was a remarkable year in San Jose. No one saw this coming, I’d even venture to say that most of the big supporters didn’t think this season was even possible. Now it is time for this club to go out and add depth. They’ll have to be crafty with the salary cap and hope that they can make some good deals in the meantime.
Seattle Sounders FC: Finding answers in the playoffs, moving on from Montero(?). Seattle enjoyed a good year in 2012, they finally got over the hump and won a playoff series but that certainly wasn’t enough for the fans there in the Emerald City. They still need ways to score in the post season and finding guys that will step up when it matters most. Secondly, do they move on from Fredy Montero? That is an answer fans will want to know sooner rather than later.
Sporting KC: Killer offense to go with the killer defense. SKC has been active yet again this offseason, this time last year they were brining some quality players to build up their defense and midfield. But the offense lacked behind in 2012. They need a veteran attacker to go along with Kei Kamra, CJ Sapong and Teal Bunbury. A guy that can pick up where they lead off in case those three go cold together for long stretches.
Toronto FC: Defense, defense and more defense. As much as I wanted to say they needed help everywhere, the problem still remained that their defense was horrible in 2012.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Not messing with what worked. Vancouver learned what to do and what not to do in 2012. They had put together a really good team to start the season and it paid off. They looked good. But a bunch of midseason moves shook the chemistry of this bunch and they never recovered for it. The need to find the right balance of players and find a way not to rock the boat with midseason pickups.