It is preseason time in Major League Soccer. The majority of the 19 MLS clubs are back in preseason mode today with the first practices of the new year under way.
I thought today would be a good time to begin looking at the clubs and what they are lacking going into the new season. I’m breaking it into two team pieces starting with the Chicago Fire and the Columbus Crew out of the Eastern Conference.
- A big time scorer. Sure they have Chris Rolfe and Dominic Oduro can be good in a pinch. But outside of that the Fire have some real question marks up front. They can’t rely on Rolfe to do it all as when they did late in 2012, the team fluttered down the stretch and were outed in the knockout stage of the playoffs by the Houston Dynamo. I don’t know if they need a DP-level scorer but they need someone that can bag at least 10-14 goals this season outside of what Rolfe scores.
- The midfield shape. I’m sure this will get sorted out in the coming weeks but with Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, and other guys in the midfield…what way does Frank Klopas shape this group? Also, knowing who plays where and what not will be key for this group. I’ll put it this way, the midfield is a make or break group for the Fire in 2013. They could be very good or very overrated.
- Depth in the back. I thought the Crew could have done better with their draft last week at getting deeper in the back. They got younger for sure this offseason but youth doesn’t always translate into quality depth right away.
- Time for the HGPs? Just like their Hunt Sports Group mates FC Dallas, the Crew made a big push on the HGP front to bring their club total up to five this winter. You have to wonder at what point are those five going to play a role for this club in 2013. Aaron Horton and Ben Speas have seen limited action while newcomers Wil Trapp and Chad Barsons hope to break that mold and see action in 2013.
- Scoring limited. After Federico Higuian, the Crew is limited in who can score up front for them. Yeah Jairo Arreita can score as well but he is more of a play maker than a scorer. The Crew need a partner for Higuain if they want to compete with the likes of Houston, Kansas City and D.C. United in the East.