2018 Season Preview

#MLSisBack and the 2018 season will kickoff on Saturday in Toronto. Given that, we asked our experts for their quick takes on each of the 23 teams heading into the season. You can also find a link to your team's unofficial depth chart based on our own evaluations and preseason matches. In addition, there's my prediction for where every team will finish in their conference.

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - ATL

Atlanta United


The Five Stripes are everyone's hot pick to take a big step forward in 2018, and that's understandable. They spent big to bring in 18-year-old Argentinean DPEzequiel Barco, and splashed out TAM + GAM to pry Darlington Nagbe from the Timbers. That's a lot of flair and off-the-dribble skill. The problem might be that they're unbalanced now, as linchpin midfielder Carlos Carmona headed back to Chile and, as yet, there's no replacement for his midfield steel. Matt Doyle


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Ezequiel Barco


KEY LOSS:Carlos Carmona


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 3rd in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - CHI

Chicago Fire


Chicago brought back their biggest star this winter in Bastian Schweinsteiger but lost one of their most productive players when they traded winger David Accam to Philadelphia on draft day. The Fire signed a promising Accam replacement in Serbian attacker Aleksandar Katai, but still need some help in a few spots – center back and No. 10 being two – if they want to build on last year’s third-place Supporters’ Shield finish. Sam Stejskal


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Aleksandar Katai


KEY LOSS:David Accam


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 7th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - COL

Colorado Rapids


It's a new era in Colorado, with new head coach Anthony Hudson and the front office overhauling the Rapids roster hoping to wash away 2017. The additions are plentiful, with many coming from England and New Zealand, and Hudson will be hoping his 3-5-2 can provide enough in the attack for a team that has struggled to score goals. Ben Baer


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Jack Price


KEY LOSS:Mohammed Saeid


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 11th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - CLB

Columbus Crew SC


Crew SC almost upset the best team in MLS history in the Eastern Conference Championship, but getting to that point again will be a tall task for Gregg Berhalter's team. Star attackers Justin Meram and Ola Kamara were traded away in the offseason, with only maligned striker Gyasi Zardes brought in to replace their star production (so far). Columbus will likely be relying on an intact defense and a rising star in between the pipes to get them back to the playoffs. Ben Baer


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Milton Valenzuela


KEY LOSS:Ola Kamara


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 6th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - DC

D.C. United


The level of optimism around D.C. depends on how you see the half-filled glass. On the positive side, D.C. upgraded in multiple positions, including the acquisitions of Ulises Segura, Junior Moreno, Frederic Brillant and Yamil Asad. The lineup could be both sturdy and electric, all to go with a brand new stadium. On the downside, they have a crazy schedule, front-loaded with road games and then extra congested on the back end. Bobby Warshaw


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Yamil Asad


KEY LOSS:Bill Hamid


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 9th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - DAL

FC Dallas


Last year we were talking about Dallas pushing for MLS Cup. Then they had one of the worst collapses in MLS history. Now we are wondering if they are even a playoff team. From Point A to Point B, they have almost exactly the same team. They struggled to replace Fabian Castillo in 2017, but this winter they got Colombian attacker Santiago Mosquera. If they can sort through their late-2017 issues, Dallas should be pushing for trophies again. Bobby Warshaw


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Santiago Mosquera


KEY LOSS:Walker Zimmerman


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 4th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - HOU

Houston Dynamo


Was 2017 a playoff mirage or did the Dynamo re-establish themselves among MLS’s upper echelon? We’re about to find out. Houston sold their leading scorer (Erick "Cubo’" Torres) in the offseason, and that might be a good thing since it opens a spot for Mauro Manotas, one of four young attackers Wilmer Cabrera will set free on the counter. Speed kills, but the rest of the league knows what’s coming. Can the Dynamo find another gear? Andrew Wiebe


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Alejandro Fuenmayor


KEY LOSS:Erick Torres


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 10th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - LAFC

LAFC


They say one should temper expectations with expansion teams – even Atlanta in 2017 finished 4th in the East – but that's not the mentality manager Bob Bradley is taking into the season. He's gone to the world market for top-end talent in Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi and blended it with proven MLS contributors like Benny Feilhaber, Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman and Steven Beitashour. The first 13 on the roster looks like it could compete with anyone. Like most expansion clubs who need to build from scratch, if Bradley needs to dig deeper, he could be in trouble. Bobby Warshaw


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:N/A


KEY LOSS: N/A


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 9th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - LA

LA Galaxy


They were the worst team in the league last year, so by definition nobody had more work to do. And so work they did, pulling in international defenders, a fringe USMNT defensive midfielder and goalkeeper, and one of MLS's most consistent goalscorers. There's a lot to like about this group, but there's no guarantee all of the above will be enough if Gio and Jona dos Santos don't start playing like the stars they're supposed to be. Matt Doyle


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Ola Kamara


KEY LOSS:Gyasi Zardes


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 5th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - MIN

Minnesota United FC


This really is gonna be a slow build, eh? While most of the rest of the league was pulling in TAM or DP-caliber players from overseas, the Loons pretty much stood pat (except for adding three more wingers, because of course they did). The prize signing of their offseason at this point looks to be 35-year-old journeyman right back Tyrone Mears, and it remains unclear who's going to be the playmaker. It looks like they'll need serious improvement from within. Matt Doyle


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Tyrone Mears


KEY LOSS:Johan Venegas


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 12th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - MTL

Montreal Impact


The Impact have yo-yoed in and out of the playoffs during their six seasons in MLS. In former Lyon boss Remi Garde, Montreal hope they’ve found a head coach who can foster more consistency and tap into the talent coming through the academy. Garde wasted no time turning over the roster and getting younger. Losing Blerim Dzemaili hurt, but Saphir Taider arrived in return. If all else fails, just give the ball to Ignacio Piatti. Andrew Wiebe


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Saphir Taider


KEY LOSS: Blerim Dzemaili


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 8th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - NE

New England Revolution


With a new coach comes, presumably, a new philosophy. We haven't yet seen how that'll work for real, but so far it seems to be geared toward finding new positions for a bunch of mainstays. Diego Fagundez has been used as a playmaker, and Kelyn Rowe as a box-to-box No. 8. Meanwhile it's unclear where Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen – who held out for a month before reporting – fit in. And the defense is, as always, an open question. Matt Doyle


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Cristian Penilla


KEY LOSS:Kei Kamara


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 10th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - NYC

New York City FC


NYCFC are clearly one of the top contenders for MLS Cup entering the season, even after selling Jack Harrison to Manchester City. David Villa will be hunting for a trophy in what could be his last season in the Big Apple and reinforcements have been added all across the field. The midfield trio should be one of the best in the league, with young star Yangel Herrera likely getting more playing time after a breakout year. Ben Baer


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Jesus Medina


KEY LOSS:Jack Harrison


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 1st in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - NY

New York Red Bulls


The Red Bulls traded their captain (again), but did so with a purpose. The red side of New York is going all-in on the press, and that requires young legs, which arrived via DPKaku, the Kljestan trade and a cadre of Homegrown and Red Bulls II graduates. Tyler Adams should take another big step, this time in central midfield, but the old heads will still be expected to lead the charge. Andrew Wiebe


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Alejandro Romero Gamarra


KEY LOSS:Sacha Kljestan


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 5th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - ORL

Orlando City SC


Has anyone in MLS history had as active (and, frankly, impressive) an offseason as the Lions? They added the two-time reigning assist king, a Best XI-caliber winger, a high-priced young DP playmaker, an in-his-prime MLS Cup champion d-mid, a Bundesliga starter at CB, the best college midfielder, the college assist king, and the NASL MVP/Golden Boot winner. This team is deep and LOADED, and now Jason Kreis has to make the pieces fit. No excuses in 2018. Matt Doyle


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Josue Colman


KEY LOSS:Cyle Larin


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 4th in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - PHI

Philadelphia Union


Union fans seemed ready to riot in December, then the club spent big to acquire David Accam. Accam has the ability to turn any game and immediately lifts any team to the next level. Is it a playoff level? It could come down to how well their No. 10s perform in creating goals and if any of the young center backs on the team — Jack Elliott, Josh Yaro, Auston Trusty or Richie Marquez — can become consistent performers. Bobby Warshaw


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:David Accam


KEY LOSS:Chris Pontius


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 11th in East


Portland Timbers


New manager Gio Savarese inherits a group that finished the 2017 regular season top of the West, plus they added winger Andy Polo, defender Julio Cascante and striker Samuel Armenteros. The problem could be that his three key players — 2017 MVP Diego Valeri, linchpin Diego Chara and captain Liam Ridgewell — are all a couple years past 30. If everything clicks, Portland could cruise. If Chara and Ridgewell — or, god forbid, Valeri — break down, though, Savarese could be reeling. Bobby Warshaw


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Andy Polo


KEY LOSS:Darlington Nagbe


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 6th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - RSL

Real Salt Lake


They couldn’t quite overcome a slow start to sneak into the playoffs, but RSL closed 2017 as one of the hottest teams in all of MLS. Their young core of Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino and Homegrown PlayersJusten Glad, Danny Acosta and Brooks Lennon is as exciting as they come and has plenty of folks tabbing RSL as a trendy pick to contend in the West. Sam Stejskal


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION(S):Damir Kreilach


KEY LOSS:Chris Wingert


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 1st in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - SJ

San Jose Earthquakes


A new year, a new era in San Jose. The Quakes took a European turn this winter, with Swiss GM Jesse Fioranelli hiring Swede Mikael Stahre as the club’s new head coach and signing Swedish striker Magnus Eriksson to a Designated Player deal. How the two Swedes adapt to MLS will do a lot to determine if San Jose can improve on a 2017 in which they made the playoffs but had a negative-21 goal differential. Sam Stejskal


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION(S):Magnus Eriksson


KEY LOSS:Victor Bernardez


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 7th in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - SEA

Seattle Sounders


Continuity is the buzzword on the Puget Sound heading into the season. Seattle, who had significant turnover after winning MLS Cup 2016, are bringing back almost everyone from the team that fell short in the final in Toronto in December. Will that core be enough after an offseason that saw most of the other Cup contenders make big moves? The Sounders are betting on it. Sam Stejskal


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION(S):Magnus Wolff Eikrem


KEY LOSS:Joevin Jones


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 2nd in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - SKC

Sporting KC


If defense wins championships, how come Sporting KC can’t seem to get past the Knockout Round? Another year of playoff disappointment prompted Peter Vermes to break out the TAM and DP slots to replace the traded Benny Feilhaber, augment the league’s best backline and keep pace with the rest of the league. What Vermes hasn’t done (yet) is land the forward #SKCnation yearns for. Are Khiry Shelton and Diego Rubio enough to make KC a top contender? Andrew Wiebe


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION(S):Felipe Gutierrez


KEY LOSS:Benny Feilhaber


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 3rd in West

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - TOR

Toronto FC


Could Toronto do the quadruple? It's certainly possible after the best team in MLS history had few changes over the short offseason. Already off to a good start in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Reds could make a run in the continental tourney before setting their sights on retaining their three other trophies. Keep an eye on Greg Vanney's lineups though, as he will not want to wear out his team before the stretch run. Ben Baer


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Gregory van der Wiel


KEY LOSS:Steven Beitashour


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 2nd in East

#MLSisBack! Here's your complete 2018 season preview - VAN

Vancouver Whitecaps


The Whitecaps favorite ride is the Forward Carousel, and Kei Kamara is the latest to climb aboard. With Kamara and Kendall Waston attacking dead balls, Vancouver ought to dominate on set pieces … but can they step out of their direct shell and go toe-to-toe with the league’s best? The answer in the playoffs was a resounding no, and the likes of Yordy Reyna, Efrain Juarez and Alphonso Davies will have to prove this version of the ‘Caps is different. Andrew Wiebe


assignment2018 DEPTH CHART


KEY ADDITION:Efrain Juarez


KEY LOSS:Fredy Montero


BEN BAER'S 2018 PREDICTION: 8th in West