MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Five MLS teams report to preseason: Here's how their rosters look today

Carlos Vela - LAFC - close up celebrating

The five teams qualified for this season's Concacaf Champions League will begin their official preseasons on Saturday, which means real-life games are almost back.

LAFC, Atlanta United, NYCFC, Seattle Sounders and Montreal Impact are among those beginning their preparations for next month's CCL matches. But as we all know, their rosters will likely continue to change as those games draw closer.

So where does each club's squad sit at the moment? Let's dive in...

Quick note: The Godfather Matt Doyle broke down the offseasons for all 26 clubs by both the Eastern and Western conferences in a macro sense last week. As always, I'd encourage you to read those. 

Atlanta United

It's never boring around Atlanta United. 

The club have seen vital first-teamers Darlington Nagbe and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez depart, while squad members Justin Meram, Michael Parkhurst, Florentin Pogba, Dion Pereira and Brandon Vazquez depart, among others. They've had a public contract impasse with right wingback/soccer's swiss army knife Julian Gressel while trading for similarly versatile right back/right wingback/right winger Brooks Lennon, signing him to a new contract. 

Behind Lennon, the club permanently acquired midfielder Emerson Hyndman, re-acquired defender Anton Walkes and signed center back Fernando Meza within minutes of officially transferring LGP to Xolos. They now have 22 players under contract, expect more movement over the next month. 

Biggest hole: Well, given they still have Josef Martinez, the attack is fine. Nagbe is a unique commodity, but the club's midfield isn't devastated. Defense still has breakout star Miles Robinson and the hope is Meza can step in for LGP seamlessly, though that's no easy task. Depth, though, may be an issue. 

Who is the backup center forward? What happens with Tito Villalba and Gressel? George Bello looks to be the best choice for LB/LWB, pending the system Frank de Boer chooses, though has played only 177 MLS minutes. For a team in CCL, with aspirations of competing on all fronts, it's not ideal. 

Projected starting XI today (3-4-2-1, right to left): Guzan; Meza, Robinson, Escobar; Gressel, Remedi, Hyndman, Bello; Barco, P. Martinez; J. Martinez


After getting a few key deals over the line in the summer, the reigning Supporters' Shield champions didn't have a ton to do this offseason. Such is life when you set a new league record for points in a season. 

Brian Rodriguez and Diego Palacios both arrived mid-season, two highly promising young players who are expected to slot straight into the starting XI. This winter, the club have added USL standout forward Danny Musovski and Uruguayan U-20 midfielder Francsico Ginella. They haven't sorted the future of starting goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who is without a club at the moment.

Will the club hang onto Diego Rossi this month amid European interest?

Biggest hole: There aren't many, but Miller's status in limbo leaves LAFC with just one goalkeeper on the roster. They'll need at least one more, likely two, of course. Given the way their season ended, perhaps adding a hardman-type of ball-winning defensive midfielder wouldn't hurt, but we're clutching at straws, here.

Projected starting XI today (4-3-3, right to left): Sisniega; Blackmon, Segura, Zimmerman, Palacios; Atuesta, Kaye, Blessing; Rossi, Vela, Rodriguez

Montreal Impact


That's always going to take precedence. Always.

L'Impact have had a slow start to the offseason, with plenty of work to do after appointing Henry head coach. The club have added just Romell Quioto and have yet to sort Orji Okwonkwo's future. Sporting director Olivier Renard told the expectation is for the player to return, that was in November, with no updates since. 

With Ignacio Piatti, Bojan and Lassi Lappalainen leading the attack, scoring goals shouldn't be an issue. But...

Biggest hole: ... with just five defenders signed to a team that gave up 60 goals last year, keeping them out might be. That's the obvious area of need and it has to be addressed ASAP. Second biggest issue is on Henry to figure out how to best set up a potentially unbalanced attack, with the above trio of talented attackers best suited for similar positions. Can Maxi Urruti re-discover his goalscoring boots?

Projected starting XI today (4-2-3-1, right to left): Bush; Camacho, Fanni, Raitala, Corrales; Piette, Taider; Piatti, Bojan, Lappalainen; Urruti


Perhaps the roster least influx of the group, NYCFC waited until they began packing the bags for preseason before hiring a head coach. Welcome, Ronny Deila.

Just one player has been added to last year's group ‚ÄĒ Homegrown defender Tayvon Gray ‚ÄĒ while their key losses are highlighted by Ebenezer Ofori and Ben Sweat. The club are deep at all positions and remain one of the most talented teams in the league. They were even able to permanently acquire USYNT midfielder Keaton Parks, a big coup. 

It's been a relatively quiet offseason for the club, even with a head coaching change and additions to Deila's staff.

Biggest hole: On the field, there really aren't any. Perhaps depth, but even that is stretching it, particularly if the Homegrowns like Justin Haak, Gray and (Borussia Monchengladbach-bound) Joe Scally are ready for meaningful backup minutes. The biggest question comes from Deila: How long does it take him to settle on a best XI and how long will it take for his tactics to marinate? Dome Torrent tore it down and took a good while for the club to hit their peak. How quickly can Deila institute his own change and how much change will it be?

Projected starting XI today (4-2-2-2, right to left): Johnson; Tinnerholm, Callens, Chanot, Matarrita; Ring, Parks; Mitrita, Moralez; Castellanos, Heber

Seattle Sounders

The reigning MLS Cup champions are taking their time this winter, yet to officially add a player. They acquired the rights to GK Stefan Cleveland and drafted two players in the second round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, though none of that trio have been officially added to the roster. 

The backline is in flux as Roman Torres is in Miami, Kim Kee-Hee out of contract and Brad Smith's loan expired. Defensive consternation may grow as the days change, but the attack remains intact, led by Raul Ruidiaz, Nico Lodeiro and Jordan Morris. The midfield, too, is strong. The academy continues to pump players into the first team as well. 

Biggest hole: Still, though, the defense is an issue. Again: Four players signed! Thankfully they have about five weeks before playing an official match, so there's plenty of time. A lot will depend on what kind of jump Xavier Arreaga can make in Year 2.  

One quick note before you tear through that lineup with Nouhou at center back: There are four defenders on the roster. This will not be how they open their CCL campaign. 

Projected starting XI today (4-2-3-1, right to left): Frei; Leerdam, Arreaga, Nouhou, Jones; Svensson, Roldan; Morris, Lodeiro, Shipp; Ruidiaz