Voices: Sam Jones

Why every team should be worried as 2023 preseason begins

Dynamo preseason

Preseason is here and we already said a bunch of nice things about why your team should be all optimistic or whatever.

It’s much, much more likely you should be drowning in pessimism. And I’m not just saying that because I’m in my mid-20s. Probably.

Look, here’s why you should be worried heading into preseason.

Yeah, yeah, they did a good job clearing some cap space in the last week or so. But after the last three years, how much are you really trusting those spots to be filled by MLS Cup-caliber players?

After the year-two bump for expansion teams comes the year-three “Wow, we might have had some overinflated expectations based on how good year two went” decline. And if it’s coming with a vengeance for any team, it’s coming for last year’s league leaders in outperforming their underlying numbers.

So Enzo Copetti is reportedly coming to MLS to build off a breakout year in another league… and he’s going to do that while pushing Karol Swiderski to a No. 10 role or something (while also coming back from an MCL injury he picked up in November)… and somehow Kamil Jozwiak, who scored the same amount of times as you and me last season, is going to help make all of that work? I mean, yeah, sure. As long as Sir Minty is around to intimidate the other team, anything is possible.

Gaga Slonina is gone. (Though we wish him the best of luck at Chelsea.)

They’re out there. Lurking. Hiding in the shadows. Around every corner. In your communities. At your churches and schools. Anyone you see or meet could be a team executive for a team in another league willing to shell out money to transfer your Brandon Vazquez or Brenner to another team. And they aren’t going away anytime soon.

Kevin Cabral is gonna start finishing any day now.

Derrick Etienne Jr., Pedro Santos and Artur are gone, there have been few incoming signings, and there are only four center backs on a team whose new coach is noted for playing a back three.

D.C. United’s offseason strategy so far has been “How would America’s best Men’s Over 30 team do in MLS?”

Matt Hedges is gone, and things generally don’t go great for FC Dallas teams that lose their best center back after a great season.

Houston fans have grown all too accustomed to pain and suffering.

It will probably sort itself out, but the DP situation is pretty weird right now. Rodolfo Pizarro may or may not be around to start the season, and it doesn’t seem like Lionel Messi is walking through that door. Now there are reports that Miami are in talks to do Atlanta a favor by trading for Josef Martinez. The possible range of outcomes here is a little too wide for a team that really needs to get their DP moves right to take a leap forward.

Having all the good players and winning all the games? Sounds pretty boring honestly. Are LAFC afraid of overcoming challenges? Many are wondering.

Yet another chance to sign a DP winger.

Soooooo, it doesn’t seem like much has changed from the same team that needed a Decision Day result to make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and who immediately got bounced in Round One.

I… uh… anything I say here will feel mean since Montréal are clearly in a transition period. So I’ll just say I really enjoyed watching this team in 2022.

Aké Loba is gone! (But his DP spot sure isn’t…)

Somewhere along the way here, the Revs are going to have to find a way to fit Giacomo Vrioni and Gustavo Bou on the field at the same time without limiting Carles Gil’s ability to impact the game.

Everyone you’ve ever loved is gone.

Nothing to worry about. This is the year it all clicks come playoff time.

I think Orlando are having a really solid and much-needed offseason, but I’m not here to be complimentary. I’ll just say it’s much easier to miss on new pieces than to hit on them. Plus they’re going to need a little more depth.

Deeper teams than this one have had their regular seasons hobbled by CCL runs. Y’all remember that when you make the final.

I’ll just let y’all look up the top incoming MLS transfers ever and see where Evander fits into that. Then you can decide from there how good he’ll be (hint: money ≠ success always).

These guys have been giving 115% for about a year and a half now. Eventually, it seems like that might wear some folks down.

It’s probably not going to get worse, is it? Just try and appreciate that it shouldn’t get worse.

Garth Lagerwey is gone, their most critical player is coming off an ACL tear (João Paulo), and the rest of the team continues to get just a little older and a little more injury-prone. They’re now going to try and recover from a year where they missed the playoffs for the first time. Kind of feels like a perfect recipe for Seattle to win MLS Cup, to be honest. But the floor doesn’t feel nearly as high as usual, does it?

Two of SKC’s DPs are coming back from season-ending knee injuries (Gadi Kinda, Alan Pulido), and it doesn’t exactly feel like one of the league’s oldest starting lineups has gotten any younger this offseason.

The league’s first Designated Team. Wow.

Matt Hedges is a great pickup, sure. But is he enough to fix that defense? That’s not snark; it’s a genuine question – one that will determine whether or not Toronto are an MLS Cup contender or struggle to make the playoffs.

They’re going to be totally fine. It’s both the nicest and meanest thing I can say here.