- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 29, 2008

John Haydon of The Washington Times breaks down the teams heading into the 2008 MLS season:

Eastern Conference

New England Revolution 14-8-8, 50 points (Second in East)

Coach: Steve Nicol

Headliners: F Taylor Twellman, M Shalrie Joseph, M Steve Ralston

Skinny: Pat Noonan, Twellman’s attacking partner, has left the team. The Revolution won the U.S. Open Cup last year and were runners-up at the MLS Cup for the third time. It’s now time for the club to win the big one. With the addition of Chris Albright, the team looks to do well again.

New York Red Bulls 12-11-7, 43 points (Third in East)

Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio

Headliners: Claudio Reyna, Juan Pablo Angel

Skinny: Respected coach Osorio left the Chicago Fire and will be under pressure to bring the Red Bulls success after endless years of failure. Angel was impressive last season with 19 goals, and with Reyna fit and Jozy Altidore getting better every season, hopes are up.

Chicago Fire 10-10-10, 40 points (Fourth in East)

Coach: Denis Hamlett

Headliners: F Cuauhtemoc Blanco, F Chris Rolfe, M Justin Mapp

Skinny: Rookie coach Denis Hamlett takes over the reins. The team made the playoffs on the last day of the season in 2007 after Mexican ace Blanco arrived to salvage a poor year. The loss of goalie Matt Pickens to Queens Park Rangers in England is another blow to a weakened back line.

Kansas City Wizards 11-12-7 40 points (Fifth in East)

Coach: Curt Onalfo

Headliners: F Claudio Lopez, M Carlo Marinelli, D Jimmy Conrad

Skinny: The signing of Argentine star Claudio Lopez is the big talking point. Lopez is expected to take over the scoring duties from transferred Eddie Johnson. The club upset Chivas USA in the playoffs last season. This year the team is out of Arrowhead Stadium and playing in a 10,000-seat baseball park.

Columbus Crew 9-11-10, 37 points (Sixth in East)

Coach: Sigi Schmid

Headliners: F Guillermo Barros Schelotto, F Eddie Gaven, F Alejandro Moreno

Skinny: The Crew failed to make the playoffs last season for the third year running. Nicolas Hernandez will be looked upon to provide the goals and the aging Guillermo Barros Schelotto, 35, needs to be the impact player that he is billed to be. Brian Carroll’s arrival could bring stability in the midfield.

Toronto FC 6-17-7, 25 points (Last in East)

Coach: John Carver

Headliners: M Maurice Edu, F Jeff Cunningham, F Danny Dichio, D Marvel Wynne

Skinny: New coach Carver, who had coaching stints with Leeds and Newcastle, has a tough job. The team has a crop of budding young stars led by Edu and Wynne. The club can only get better after last year’s tumultuous debut season.

Western Conference

Chivas USA 15-7-8, 53 points (First in West)

Coach: Preki

Headliners: F Maykel Galindo, F Ante Rasov, G Brad Guzan

Skinny: Preki transformed underdog Chivas USA last year, building a strong defense and finding an attacking gem in Cuban ace Galindo, before slipping up in the playoffs. Expect more of the same this season. Guzan is the best goalie in MLS, and forward Alecko Eskandarian looks to be back to his old form.

Houston Dynamo 15-8-7, 52 points (Second in West) MLS Cup Champion

Coach: Dominic Kinnear

Headliners: F Brian Ching, M Dwayne De Rosario, M Brian Mullan

Skinny: The MLS Cup champion has lost a number of key players to overseas clubs. A lot is riding on Argentine forward Franco Caraccio. Olympic team member Stuart Holden looks to play a big role on the team.

FC Dallas 13-12-5, 44 points (Third in West)

Coach: Steve Morrow

Headliners: F Jaun Toja, D Drew Moor

Skinny: Dallas was impressive at times in 2007 but Morrow needs to figure out his lineup and his style of play. Carlos Ruiz has gone to Los Angeles, and Toja and Kenny Cooper will need to score.

Colorado Rapids 9-13-8, 35 points (Fourth in West)

Coach: Fernando Clavijo

Headliners: M Christian Gomez, F Terry Cooke

Skinny: The arrival of Gomez has the potential to stimulate the underachieving club and get them back into the playoffs. The team was woeful at scoring goals last year. Herculez Gomez and Conor Casey need to find the back of the net more often in 2008.

Los Angeles Galaxy 9-14-7, 34 points (Fifth in West)

Coach: Ruud Gullit

Headliners: M David Beckham, F Carlos Ruiz, M Landon Donovan

Skinny: There’s a new experienced coach in Gullit and Beckham is fit again, but nothing short of a title will satisfy the ownership after missing the playoffs last year. Beckham, Carlos Ruiz and Donovan will carry the team, but is that enough? There are a number of unproven players on the thin roster, including the goalie position.

Real Salt Lake 6-15-9, 27 points (Last in West)

Coach: Jason Kreis

Headliners: G Nick Rimando, M Javier Morales, F Robbie Findley

Skinny: After another miserable season for Salt Lake, there was a big clean out. Now the new players need to jell. The club hopes its Argentine contingent will help, especially on the offensive end, while the talented Kyle Beckerman must orchestrate a solid midfield.

San Jose Earthquakes

Coach: Frank Yallop

Headliners: F Kei Kamara, N Ronnie O’Brien, M Ned Grabavoy, G Joe Cannon, F Gavin Glinton

Skinny: The expansion Earthquakes, back after a two-year absence, will need time to create chemistry and likely will struggle early. But don’t count out Yallop, who steered San Jose to two MLS Cups.

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