MLS Preseason Wrap Up
All of the preseason tournaments have concluded and many have had interesting results. From Florida to Nevada, every match showed us we are in for an incredible season of MLS soccer. Here are the winners from each tournament.
Disney Pro Classic: Columbus Crew
When Greg Berhalter first took over as head coach, there was an expectation of a rebuilding year. Once the black and gold beat Swedish side Malmo FF, people took notice. Still, everyone had doubts about the Crew's success this year. Many of them even questioned the club's chances of entering the playoffs.
The Disney Pro Classic offered a more competitive look at Berhalter's squad, as well as his coaching. Columbus opened with a bang, plastering Toronto FC 3-1. Following a 1-0 penalty win against Philadelphia Union and a 4-4 draw against Orlando SC, many critics were still not convinced the Crew had what it took.
The Crew answered those questions in the best way possible, bushwhacking defending MLS Cup champions Sporting KC 4-1. Jario Arrieta scored the first goal in the 20th minute off of a penalty and the Crew never looked back. Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram and Federico Higuain all found the net during the match. Sporting KC's Claudio Bieler kept it from being a shut out with his 87th minute goal. Overall this match proved that Columbus is not in a rebuilding year, by any sense of the word.
Desert Diamond Cup: Chicago Fire
No team in the east has been making more roster moves than the Chicago Fire. The Fire have had over five different signing/releases in the past week alone. Despite all of the movement, Frank Yallop's squad kicked in scoring overdrive. Even without striker Mike Magee in the lineup, Chicago still managed to set the desert ablaze.
Recent pickup Benji Joya has stepped up repeatedly during the cup. Proving that not only can he score goals, but set up assists as well. Chicago started out sluggish with an early loss to New England Revolution 1-0. After that the Fire beat FC Tuscon 2-0 and followed up on Colorado Rapids 2-1.
Yallop and company had to face Chivas Rayadas in the finals and did not disappoint with a 2-0 win. This result adds more questions than answers to the Eastern Conference playoff table. With the resurgence of Chicago, and their rival Columbus Crew, the east has no clear picture of who will be left when the playoffs roll around.
Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United
One team that has a lot of mystery surrounding it is D.C. United. With the increasing level of play in the east, it is hard to figure out where United fits in the puzzle. Despite winning the tournament, one major question was raised.
Primarily, can United keep up with the rest of the league. All indications pointed to yes after their first match, a 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo. United then started to falter slightly as they drew 1-1 against USL side Charleston Battery. Then a defining moment appeared in the form of the championship game. With a chance to quiet the doubters, United drew against Seattle Sounders 2-2.
United has done nothing this preseason to convince me that they can make the playoffs. While there is potential there, an inability to close out matches will cost a team down the stretch. These tournaments have shown there is a lot of interesting soccer ahead of us.