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MLS: Eastern Conference Preview

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Claudio Bieler #16 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates after a first-half goal against the Toronto FC February 23, 2013 in the final round of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Claudio Bieler #16 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates after a first-half goal against the Toronto FC February 23, 2013 in the final round of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Overview: After topping the East last season, few changes were expected. Nevertheless, the departures of Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara to the Premier League have left some big holes to fill. The Honduran earned himself a shot at the Premier League after performing excellently at the London Olympics, while the Sierra Leonean has quickly become a fan favorite at Norwich with his work rate. Peter Vermes has brought in Benny Feilhaber and DP Claudio Bieler in order to mitigate his losses; nevertheless, it’s hard to predict whether Feilhaber will be able to recapture the form that won him caps with the US National Team, especially after a less than stellar stint with New England. Bieler was a prolific scorer at LDU Quito, but adapting to a new league could bring about a worrying drought.

Key Player: Graham Zusi had himself a special 2012. He led MLS in assists, and also established himself as a regular on the national team. Zusi’s confidence couldn’t be higher, which forebodes another productive season. With Bobby Convey beside him, Zusi will likely be among the league’s assist leaders again.