2007 Club by Club
After 11 years exclusively on United States soil, MLS officially became a North American soccer league in 2007 by introducing the first Canadian club in their history: Toronto FC. And the move did not disappoint.
The Reds quickly won the support of their city, and the raucous red-clad crowds that filled BMO Field to the brim despite the worst record in the league was a heartening sign that the league was moving in the right direction.
The introduction of a new team, however, did not mean that the big kids on the playground were about to relinquish their dominance just yet. The LA Galaxy made a big splash at the beginning of the season with changes to both their logos and their uniforms, then followed up with a much bigger mid-season splash by signing former Manchester United star and Real Madrid Galactico David Beckham from the incumbent Spanish champions.
The England captain’s arrival stateside drew thousands of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s most famous players, including a 66,000+ crowd at Giants Stadium to watch the New York Red Bulls defeat LA in a wild 5-4 contest.
Injuries and fatigue would limit the Englishman’s contribution to just two starts in five matches in his inaugural season. It was D.C. United striker Luciano Emilio that stole the show on the field. The Brazilian hitman notched 20 goals for the Black-and-Red, who overcame three straight losses to open the season to win their second consecutive Supporters’ Shield.
Hot on Emilio’s heels was New York Red Bulls striker and newly-arrived Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel. Despite making his debut in May, the Colombian would finish just one goal shy of the Golden Boot. The advent of the DP was not all a story of success, however, as both Mexican star Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brazilian winger Denilson joined the league with the Chicago Fire and FC Dallas, respectively, with mixed results.
But perhaps the most impressive performance would come out West, where first-year head coach and former MLS MVP Preki led Chivas USA to the top of the conference behind the dynamic goalscoring duo of MLS veteran Ante Razov and first-year MLSer Maykel Galindo. The pair combined for 23 goals, and their manager would take home Coach of the Year.
D.C. and Chivas’ regular season success would not parlay to playoff glory, though. United suffered a narrow 3-2 aggregate loss to the wild card Fire in the first round, while Chivas were shut out for a 1-0 aggregate loss to the Kansas City Wizards.
Ultimately, the postseason would lead both of the 2006 finalists to another dance in MLS Cup, the Houston Dynamo taking a 2-0 win over the Wizards and the the New England Revolution pushing past the Fire on the strength of a spectacular bicycle kick goal by Taylor Twellman. Once again, Houston went down a goal to the Revs, and once more New England couldn’t hold on, as Dwayne De Rosario scored the winner in regulation to push the Dynamo to a 2-1 result and a second straight title. For Houston, it was a triumph. For New England, it was the latest of a bitter run that had seen them make four MLS Cup appearances in five years, winning none and according themselves the dubious honor of “the Buffalo Bills of MLS.”
Most Valuable Player: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
Goalkeeper of the Year: Brad Guzan – Chivas USA
Golden Boot: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United, 20 goals
Rookie of the Year: Maurice Edu – Toronto FC
Defender of the Year: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
Goal of the Year: Cuauhtémoc Blanco – Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake – August 18, 2007
Coach of the Year: Preki – Chivas USA