Football Features

MLS 2020: All you need to know about the competition’s 26 teams

By Chris Smith

Published: 14:59, 27 February 2020

After more than three months out, Major League Soccer is back.

2020 — the league’s 25th season — promises to be the most exciting one yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami making their long-awaited competition debut, along with Nashville SC.

Seattle Sounders will look to defend their MLS Cup crown, while reigning Supporters’ Shield champions LAFC are aiming to build on their record-breaking 2019 campaign.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so, with so much to consider ahead of the big kick-off, here is everything you need to know about all 26 MLS teams.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta United

Atlanta United – Josef Martinez & Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez

Manager: Frank de Boer

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Last season: 2nd in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference finalists, US Open Cup & Campeones Cup winners

Opening fixture: Away vs Nashville SC (Sunday, 1 March, 1:00 am UK time)

With a post-season punctuated by the departures of key players — such as Michael Parkhurst, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez — you’d be forgiven for forgetting Atlanta United won two trophies and reached the Eastern Conference play-off final last season. The Five Stripes weren’t as ruthlessly consistent in 2019 as the 2018 version, but if their recent 4-1 aggregate Concacaf Champions League win over Motagua is anything to go by, Frank de Boer’s men will have no problems challenging once again in 2020.

Most exciting player: Josef Martinez

A front three of Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco is enough to terrify any MLS defence but there’s no doubting the Venezuelan striker is Atlanta’s MVP. The former Torino man is a cold-blooded killer in front of goal — netting 90 times in 102 appearances across all competitions for Atlanta — and game after game, demands the very highest standards from his teammates. If the Five Stripes are to make another run to MLS Cup, Josef simply must bring the goals.

Chicago Fire

Feb 5, 2020; New York, NY, USA; Mike Magee models the Chicago Fire FC kit during MLS FORWARD25 at Hotel Pennsylvania. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA

Manager: Raphaël Wicky

Stadium: Soldier Field

Last season: 8th in Eastern Conference

Opening fixture: Away vs Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 1 March, 8:00 pm UK time)

With a new head coach, a new badge, three new Designated Players and a move back downtown to Soldier Field, this Chicago Fire side feels like a completely different animal to the 2019 version. Raphaël Wicky will have a serious job on his hands in trying to mould this new-look side into play-off contenders, stepping away from veterans such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty to build a younger, more vibrant squad. They may well miss out on the post-season in 2020 but this was never going to be a one-year project.

Most exciting player: Alvaro Medran

At just 25 years old, with a ton of experience in La Liga, Real Madrid youth product Alvaro Medran is exactly the sort of player the Fire need to take the reins in the final third. The Spanish playmaker has taken up the No.10 shirt and will likely pick up from where Nicolas Gaitan left off, pulling the strings and feeding the likes of CJ Sapong and Przemyslaw Frankowski around him. 

FC Cincinnati

Manager: Yoann Damet (interim)

Stadium: Nippert Stadium

Last season: 12th in Eastern Conference

Opening fixture: Away vs New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 1 March, 6:00 pm UK time)

FC Cincy’s debut MLS season was a complete disaster, with the Orange and Blue finishing bottom of the Supporters’ Shield standings with just 24 points from 34 games, conceding a record 75 goals. Couple that with the resignation of head coach Ron Jans for his alleged racial remarks and things look even bleaker. That said, Cincy have added some genuine quality in the likes of Siem de Jong and Jurgen Locadia — they’ll still struggle but don’t expect them to be cut adrift again.

Most exciting player: Siem de Jong

Cincy have a lot of work to do at the back but at least further forward, they’ve added some real talent in Siem de Jong. A Netherlands international, De Jong comes with Champions League, Premier League and Eredivisie experience and should be able to feed Locadia further forward to ignite that attack.

Columbus Crew

Manager: Caleb Porter

Stadium: MAPFRE Stadium

Last season: 10th in Eastern Conference

Opening fixture: Home vs NYCFC (Sunday, 1 March, 5:30 pm UK time)

The Crew had a horrendous mid-season run which effectively ended their play-off hopes last season, but a late resurgence saw them become heartbreakers in the play-off race. It’s Caleb Porter’s second year and replacing Will Trapp with Darlington Nabge is a huge upgrade to his midfield, while the capture of Lucas Zelarayan from Tigres is a real statement. With Gyasi Zardes’ goals to boot, expect Columbus to be much closer to the play-off race this time around.

Most exciting player: Lucas Zelarayan

Liga MX stars heading north for MLS is becoming something on an encouraging theme for the USA’s top-flight and with 23 goals and 14 assists to his next in Mexico in recent years, Zelarayan will certainly excite Crew fans. Columbus were the Eastern Conference’s second-lowest scorers last season with just 39 goals so getting Zelarayan ticking with Zardes up top is job No.1 for Porter.

D. C. United

Manager: Ben Olsen

Stadium: Audi Field

Last season: 5th in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Play-offs First Round

Opening fixture: Home vs Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 29 February, 6:00 pm UK time)

Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta have left and the short but sweet era of “LuchaRoo” is officially over. Being honest, both players had a pretty poor 2019 as Ben Olsen’s side struggled for consistency and were humiliated by Toronto in the play-offs. Building the team around the likes of Ola Kamara and Edison Flores should prove far more profitable for the Black and Red, while in Julian Gressel, they’ve managed to snatch one of the MLS’ most lethal crossers from Atlanta.

Most exciting player: Edison Flores

Flores has been a consistent goalscorer for the Peruvian national team in recent years and there’s no reason why he can’t apply that to MLS play. Furthermore, his increased speed and mobility over Rooney and Acosta should make DC a far more dynamic side both with and without the ball in 2020.

Inter Miami

Manager: Diego Alonso

Stadium: Inter Miami CF Stadium

Last season: N/A

Opening fixture: Away vs LAFC (Sunday, 1 March, 10:30 pm UK time)

Here’s the one you’ve all been waiting for. David Beckham and Co. have made plenty of noise getting Inter Miami MLS-ready and they finally kick off their inaugural season away at Supporters’ Shield holders LAFC. Speculation over which world-class star Beckham will tempt Stateside has been rife and with one Designated Player spot still open, we may yet see a huge move in the market — even Neymar has said he’ll play for Inter Miami one day! Under two-time Concacaf Champions League-winning coach Diego Alonso, expect the Herons to sit comfortably in the East in year one, making an outside bid for the play-offs.

Most exciting player: Rodolfo Pizarro

There aren’t many players plying their trade in North America with a higher stock right now than Rodolfo Pizarro and his arrival from Concacaf Champions League holders Monterrey has certainly raised a few eyebrows. The 26-year-old has 25 caps for Mexico so far — scoring five times — and is a playmaker of supreme talent. His ability to drift across the forward line and find those little spaces will make him a nightmare to defend against and should give Miami a real attacking edge in their expansion season.

Montreal Impact

Manager: Thierry Henry

Stadium: Saputo Stadium

Last season: 9th in Eastern Conference, Canadian Championship winners

Opening fixture: Home vs New England Revolution (Saturday, 29 February, 8:00 pm UK time)

Thierry Henry’s time as a manager so far has been tough, to say the least, and there’s a real feeling Montreal Impact and the madness that is MLS will either make or break him. The Arsenal legend takes charge of an Impact side who desperately disappointed in the East last season, missing out on the play-offs when multiple chances to make the off-season presented themselves. They did, however, win the Canadian Championship and if their Concacaf Champions League play is anything to go by, Henry is going to keep us guessing with wild tactical tweaks and team selections.

Most exciting player: Bojan

Bojan’s mid-season arrival really did whet the appetite of Impact fans and the Spaniard has certainly been showing the right signs so far. With legendary playmaker Igancio Piatti departing over the winter, Bojan will have even more creative and goalscoring responsibilities on his shoulders — a burden which feels even heavier when you consider the Impact conceded the second-highest number of goals (60) in the Eastern Conference in 2019.

New England Revolution

Manager: Bruce Arena

Stadium: Gillette Stadium

Last season: 7th in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Play-offs First Round

Opening fixture: Away vs Montreal Impact (Saturday, 29 February, 8:00 pm UK time)

New England Revolution’s 2019 season initially looked doomed under Brad Friedel, with the Boston side playing some of the worst football MLS has seen in recent years. However, enter legendary coach Bruce Arena mid-season and all of a sudden, the Revs looked like a real competitive outfit. Carles Gil was showing an insane level of creative brilliance and forwards Gustavo Bou and Teal Bunbury were finding the net with ease. Just like that, an unlikely Play-off appearance was theirs — expect the Revs to push even harder this year.

Most exciting player: Carles Gil

Gil won the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year award and with good reason, bagging 10 goals and notching 12 assists — only Michael Barrios (14) and Maxi Moralez (13) managed more. With Arena now fully putting his stamp on this Revs side, Gil will be looking forward to getting back out on the pitch, wreaking havoc on opposition defences.

NYCFC

Manager: Ronny Deila

Stadium: Yankee Stadium

Last season: 1st in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Semi-finals

Opening fixture: Away vs Columbus Crew (Sunday, 1st March, 5:30 pm UK time)

NYCFC were excellent during the 2019 regular season, topping the Eastern Conference and playing some fantastic football — the likes of Maxi Moralez, Heber and Alexandru Mitrita combined brilliantly to make the Bronx side one of MLS’s most impressive attacking outfits. NYCFC aren’t too shabby at the back either but with coach Dome Torrent departing and being replaced by Ronny Deila, it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be the same, well-oiled unit which charged to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals last season.

Most exciting player: Maxi Moralez

He may just be turning 33, but Moralez has been one of MLS’s most effective playmakers over the past three years since joining from Atalanta. His ability to ghost into space and pick a defence-splitting pass means a loss of pace which comes with age isn’t an issue for the Argentine, while his keen eye for goal perfectly supplements Heber up front.

New York Red Bulls

Manager: Chris Armas

Stadium: Red Bull Arena

Last season: 6th in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Play-offs First Round

Opening fixture: Home vs FC Cincinnati (Sunday, 1st March, 6:00 pm UK time)

Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles and Kemar Lawrence have all departed with no notable incomings so far to replace them, leaving the Red Bulls with a real uphill task in 2020. Chris Armas has crafted this side into a ruthless pressing unit over the years but do they really have the personnel this time to push so high and take so many risks? The Red Bulls are Supporters’ Shield experts and have a long play-off streak to defend but this season may see that finally come to an end.

Most exciting player: Aaron Long

It’s not often you’ll pick a defender as the Red Bulls’ most exciting player but such is their roster so far, that is indeed the case. Aaron Long has been linked with a number of European clubs in recent months — including West Ham and Southampton — but, for now at least, he remains at Red Bull Arena. The USMNT international underperformed slightly in 2019 but has more than enough in his locker to marshal that Red Bulls defence.

Orlando City

Manager: Oscar Pareja

Stadium: Exploria Stadium

Last season: 11th in Eastern Conference

Opening fixture: Home vs Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 29th February, 11:00 pm UK time)

Orlando once again failed to make the play-offs in 2019 and, in fact, finished above only FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference. Oscar Pareja is the latest man to take a shot at delivering a post-season for the Lions and with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese coming in and playmaker Mauricio Pereyra having a full pre-season under his belt, they look in pretty decent shape. If they’re to stand a chance of even getting close to the Play-off spots, however, they need more from striker Dom Dwyer, who scored just seven MLS goals last season.

Most exciting player: Nani

With 12 goals, five assists and an MLS All-Star appearance, Nani’s first season in North America was a huge personal success. At times, the Portuguese winger almost single-handedly carried the Lions to results and Pareja will be counting on another big season from him in 2020 as Orlando seek to finally end that Play-off hoodoo.

Philadelphia Union

Manager: Jim Curtin

Stadium: Subaru Park

Last season: 3rd in Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Semi-finals

Opening fixture: Away vs FC Dallas (Saturday, 29th February, 11:00 pm UK time)

Finishing third in the East and winning a play-off match for the first time in club history, 2019 very much felt like a breakthrough year for Philadelphia Union. The decision to allow key midfielder Haris Medunjanin to leave — being replaced by the more athletic Matej Oravec — indicates the Union will be shifting to a more expansive system in 2020 which will see them press higher out of possession. Is this Union side good enough to meet Jim Curtin’s new demands? Time will tell, but they should remain in the mix throughout.

Most exciting player: Alejandro Bedoya

Alejandro Bedoya grabbed the attention of the footballing world for his message to the US government against gun crime last season but make no mistake, he also catches the eye on the pitch too. The 32-year-old managed five goals and three assists last season and, despite his advancing age, remains the all-action leader of this Union side.

Toronto FC

Manager: Greg Vanney

Stadium: BMO Field

Last season: 4th in Eastern Conference, MLS Cup runners-up

Opening fixture: Away vs San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 29th February, 10:30 pm UK time)

TFC were remarkable in their run to MLS Cup Final in 2019, destroying DC United before pulling off tight, tactical wins over NYCFC and Atlanta United to set up their tie in Seattle. Greg Vanney’s men came up short in that game but certainly sent out a message that they mean business once again. If they can keep Jozy Altidore fit, you fancy them for another shot at play-off glory. If not, Alejandro Pozuelo can play as a false nine and then you’d still fancy them as contenders. Either way, TFC will be up there.

Most exciting player: Alejandro Pozuelo

14 goals and 10 assists is some way to mark your debut season, as is throwing in a few panenka penalties for good measure. Whether it was as a No.10 or a false nine, Pozuelo was mesmeric for Toronto last season and you can’t help but get excited thinking about what he’ll conjure up in 2020.

Western Conference

Colorado Rapids

Manager: Robin Fraser

Stadium: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

Last season: 9th in Western Conference

Opening fixture: Away vs DC United (Saturday, 29th February, 6:00 pm UK time)

Considering the horrible start they had under Anthony Hudson, the fact that the Rapids finished just six points short of a play-off spot was something of a miracle — interim coach Conor Casey and then Robin Fraser deserve huge credit for that. Fraser has now had a full pre-season to implement his attacking style and adding the likes of Younes Namli and Nicolas Benezet can only make them easier on the eye in 2020. Expect them to be much closer to the play-off race.

Most exciting player: Younes Namli

After chasing him for a couple of years, the Rapids finally secured playmaker Younes Namli on a two-year loan deal from FC Krasnodar. The Danish playmaker has all the assets to become an elite MLS player: pace, trickery and a keen eye for a pass. He’s perfectly suited to Fraser’s style of play.

FC Dallas

Manager: Luchi Gonzalez

Stadium: Toyota Stadium

Last season: 7th in Western Conference, Western Conference play-offs First Round

Opening fixture: Home vs Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 29th February, 11:00 pm UK time)

FC Dallas’ admirable insistence on fielding youth made them exciting to watch last season but also, at times, a walking disaster contributing heavily to their own downfall. However, they went toe-to-toe against Seattle Sounders in the play-offs and lost 4-3 in one of the most memorable MLS games of all time and perhaps the addition of Brazilian midfielder Thiago Santos should offer the experience needed to guide this young group in big games.

Most exciting player: Paxton Pomykal

Alphonso Davies, Miguel Almiron and Tyler Adams are just a few of the names to leave MLS and succeed in Europe in recent years and if he continues his rapid development, Paxton Pomykal could join that list. The 20-year-old is as elegant a playmaker as they come, superb at taking the ball under pressure and picking out both long and short passes. When fully fit, he’s the midfield engine that makes this Dallas side hum.

Houston Dynamo

Manager: Tab Ramos

Stadium: BBVA Stadium

Last season: 10th in Western Conference

Opening fixture: Home vs LA Galaxy (Saturday, 29th February, 8:30 pm UK time)

Houston Dynamo started 2020 like a house on fire, only to fall away dramatically — so much so that Wilmer Cabrera lost his job midway through the season. Tab Ramos will have his work cut out to turn this Dynamo side into one that can seriously challenge for a play-off spot but the likes of Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis up front should give them at least enough attacking verve to cause a few problems.

Most exciting player: Mauro Manotas

While he didn’t quite hit the heights last season, Mauro Manotas remains one of most exciting strikers in MLS and is often the subject of transfer speculation from Europe. The Colombia international bagged 25 goals in 37 appearances across all competitions for the Dynamo two seasons ago and a repeat of that could push the Texas outfit into play-off contention.

LA Galaxy

Manager: Guillermo Barros Schelotto

Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park

Last season: 5th in Western Conference, Western Conference play-off Semi-finals

Opening fixture: Away vs Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 29th February, 8:30 pm UK time)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gone but, strangely, that may just make LA Galaxy a far more threatening side in 2020. Sure, Zlatan’s goals speak for themselves, but his lack of mobility robbed Guillermo Barros Schelotto of the option to high-press. Javier Hernandez certainly gives the Galaxy that option, while his arrival has caused a major stir stateside. Watching him dovetail with Argentina international Cristian Pavon is one of the most mouth-watering prospects of 2020.

Most exciting player: Javier Hernandez

Few things have caused as much of a stir in North America as the arrival of Mexican football’s poster boy. Chicarito is absolutely worshipped in these parts and the hype surrounding his move to the Galaxy is very much real. If the former Man Utd man can deliver the goods on the pitch, the Galaxy will be a serious threat in the post-season.

Los Angeles Football Club

Manager: Bob Bradley

Stadium: Banc of California Stadium

Last season: 1st in Western Conference, Supporters’ Shield winners, Western Conference Final

Opening fixture: Home vs Inter Miami (Sunday, 1st March, 10:30 pm UK time)

LAFC were absolutely phenomenal during the 2019 regular season, setting a record points total (72), losing just four games and taking teams apart at will. The loss of centre-back Walker Zimmermann will hurt, but Carlos Vela is outright the best player in MLS right now, while the likes of Diego Rossi and Eduard Atuesta are among the most exciting talents — a move to Europe seems almost inevitable for them. If Bob Bradley can keep this side together for the duration of 2020, there’s no reason why the Black and Gold can’t go one better and lift the MLS Cup.

Most exciting player: Carlos Vela

Winning the Golden Boot with a single-season record 34 goals, there isn’t much Carlos Vela didn’t do last year — he was even heavily linked with a loan move to Barcelona at one point. Whether it’s scoring from 30 yards, finishing inside the box or combining with teammates right across the pitch, Vela is central to everything LAFC do — who knows what he’s capable of achieving in 2020.

Minnesota United FC

Manager: Adrian Heath

Stadium: Allianz Field

Last season: 4th in Western Conference, Western Conference play-offs First Round, US Open Cup runners-up

Opening fixture: Away vs Portland Timbers (Monday, 2nd March, 12:30 am UK time)

Reaching the play-offs for the first time and getting all the way to the US Open Cup final, 2019 can only be seen as a huge success for Minnesota United. The loss of Vito Mannone, as well as Designated Players Darwin Quintero and Angelo Rodriguez, is bound to hurt but the likes of Ike Opara, Ozzy Alonso and Romain Metanire all return to what should be a brilliantly balanced Loons side. The arrival of Paraguayan forward Luis Amarilla should provide some extra attacking edge, while Heath will have no worries about his defence, which conceded 43 goals throughout the 2019 regular season.

Most exciting player: Ike Opara

It’s no coincidence that Ike Opara left Sporting KC to join Minnesota United and the two sides then went on to have totally contrasting 2019 seasons. Okay, so Sporting KC’s injuries didn’t really help them, but Opara’s influence on the Loons’ defensive fortunes cannot be understated. He was quite rightly named MLS Defender of the Year and will be vital to Heath’s plans once again.

Nashville SC

Manager: Gary Smith

Stadium: Nissan Stadium

Last season: N/A

Opening fixture: Home vs Atlanta United (Sunday, 1st March, 1:00 am UK time)

Nashville have opted for MLS experience when putting together the roster for their inaugural season, with the likes of Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy joining Best XI defender Walker Zimmermann at Nissan Stadium. Like Inter Miami, don’t expect Nashville to flop a la Cincinnati in their expansion year but, at the same time, don’t expect an LAFC or Atlanta United-like run into the play-offs.

Most exciting player: Hany Mukhtar

Most of Gary Smith’s roster construction has centred around defensive solidity but in Hany Mukhtar, Nashville have signed a playmaker of genuine quality. The 24-year-old has picked up honours in Germany, Austria and Denmark at club level, while he was also named in the 2014 Uefa European U-19 Championship Team of the Year after scoring two goals at the tournament — including the winner in the final as Germany overcame Portugal.

Portland Timbers

Manager: Giovanni Savarese

Stadium: Providence Park

Last season: 6th in Western Conference, Western Conference play-offs First Round

Opening fixture: Home vs Minnesota United (Monday, 2nd March, 12:30 am UK time)

It was a tough 2019 for the Timbers, who had to deal with long away stretches while Providence Park was renovated, then struggled at home toward the end of the season. They ultimately crashed out of play-offs in the First Round but Brian Fernandez aside, have retained all of their star talent — including Diego Valeri, who has signed a new contract following another prolific season. It should be a year of improvement for Giovanni Savarese’s men.

Most exciting player: Diego Valeri

Diego Chara is a defensive rock in midfield and Sebastian Blanco is a wonderful attacking talent, but none of them quite influence this Timbers side like Valeri. The former Argentina international grabbed another eight goals and eight assists in 2019 before ending speculation regarding his future by signing a new contract.

Real Salt Lake

Manager: Freddy Juarez

Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium

Last season: 3rd in Western Conference, Western Conference play-off Semi-finals

Opening fixture: Away vs Orlando City (Saturday, 29th February, 11:00 pm UK time)

Real Salt Lake quietly advanced to third place in the Western Conference without anyone really noticing, with Freddy Juarez doing more than enough to earn the manager’s job on a permanent basis after taking over from Mike Petke. Veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando has finally retired but Kyle Beckerman is back in midfield, while RSL still has plenty of talent in forward areas to make another run in the post-season.

Most exciting player: Corey Baird

He may have dropped off a little last season after a breakout 2018, but Corey Baird still managed five goals and four assists in 2019 and will be looking to reach double figures in at least one of those metrics this time around. Baird is fantastic at both linking play and driving inside from the left and should provide RSL with plenty of attacking thrust.

San Jose Earthquakes

Manager: Matias Almeyda

Stadium: Earthquakes Stadium

Last season: 8th in Western Conference

Opening fixture: Home vs Toronto FC (Saturday, 29th February, 10:30 pm UK time)

Matias Almeyda’s first year with the Earthquakes ultimately ended in disappointment, missing out on the play-offs but my word, it was fun. Almeyda installed his unique man-marking system and at times, the Earthquakes looked absolutely unplayable while at others, when players lost their one-on-one duels, they were a disaster. That said, if Almeyda can drill some extra fitness into his squad, they might just scrape into the play-offs this time.

Most exciting player: Jackson Yueill

2019 saw Jackson Yueill truly establish himself as a top-class MLS midfielder, with his smooth passing and silky skills earning a first call-up to the senior US national team. Yueill has the ability to control the pace of a game from the centre of the park and his eye for a quick pass will be key as the Earthquakes look to hurt teams in transition.

Seattle Sounders FC

Manager: Brian Schmetzer

Stadium: CenturyLink Field

Last season: 2nd in Western Conference, MLS Cup winners

Opening fixture: Home vs Chicago Fire (Sunday, 1st March, 8:00 pm UK time)

For the second time in four years, the Sounders are defending MLS Cup champions. Seattle were an absolute menace on the break last season and Brian Schmetzer deserves huge credit for squeezing the absolute maximum out of his most valuable assets — their Western Conference Final win over LAFC, in particular, was seriously impressive. With the likes of Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz sticking around again for 2020, the Sounders will surely be contenders once again.

Most exciting player: Jordan Morris

Having missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, Morris was fantastic in 2019 and quite rightly earned the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award. The UMSNT international bagged 13 goals in 30 games across the regular season and play-offs combined and his blistering pace is key to how Schmetzer wants the Sounders to play.

Sporting Kansas City

Manager: Peter Vermes

Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park

Last season: 11th in Western Conference

Opening fixture: Away vs Vancouver Whitecaps (Sunday, 1st March, 3:30 am UK time)

Sporting KC were ravaged by injuries in 2019, resulting in them missing out on the play-offs for the first time since 2010. Peter Vermes has seemingly solved their longstanding issues at centre-forward, signing Liga MX 2019 Apertura top scorer Alan Pulido from Guadalajara but they’ve never really replaced Ike Opara — could the arrival of Winston Reid from West Ham help tighten things up at the back?

Most exciting player: Alan Pulido

As mentioned, Pulido arrives from Mexico with a huge pedigree, with a ton of team and individual honours in Liga MX, as well as 13 caps for Mexico. This is the first time in a while we’ve really seen KC splash the cash and Vermes will be praying Pulido justifies the faith shown in him.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Manager: Marc Dos Santos

Stadium: BC Place

Last season: 12th in Western Conference

Opening fixture: Home vs Sporting KC (Sunday, 1st March, 3:30 am UK time)

Cincinnati aside, Vancouver Whitecaps were pretty much the worst side in MLS last year and their struggle for relevance over the past few years seems endless. There is a faint glimmer of hope for the Canadian side with Marc Dos Santos overhauling his playing squad, but whether they have enough to even think about challenging for the play-offs is up for debate.

Most exciting player: Lucas Cavallini

If the Whitecaps are to make a fist of 2020, their new No. 9 Lucas Cavallini will play a vital role. A reported $6m was shelled out to bring the Canada international to BC Place from Mexican side Puebla and with 11 goals in 17 caps for his country, Cavallini’s pedigree is undoubted.

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