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MetroStars 2005 quick hits

Steady pace may win race for Metros
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MetroStars
Giants Stadium (MLS capacity: 24,986)
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2004 Record: 11-12-7, 40 pts. 3rd in Eastern Conference
GF: 47 (1st in MLS)
GA: 49 (10th in MLS)
Finish: Lost to D.C. United in Conference Semifinal (0-4 on agg)

Head Coach: Bob Bradley
Key Departures: Eddie Pope, Cornell Glen, Pablo Brenes, Fabian Taylor, Joselito Vaca, Craig Ziadie
Key Additions: Youri Djorkaeff, Jeff Agoos

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

GOALKEEPER
Jonny Walker: Walker will reclaim the starting spot when his surgically repaired rotator cuff heals. Until then, the capable Zach Wells will protect the net.

DEFENDERS
Chris Leitch: Workhorse outside player can shut down opponents and quickly join the attack on the right.
Jeff Parke: Great speed and athleticism will propel the second-year center back to all-star status soon.
Carlos Mendes: Dependable and athletic central defender has fit in well with team since signing.
Jeff Agoos: Veteran joins his third team in search of his sixth championship ring and will start as left fullback.

MIDFIELDERS
Gilberto: Versatile Brazilian is equally at home in defensive role (where he will likely start) or attacking from right side.
Mark Lisi: Could be the odd man out when Djorkaeff returns, but has time to prove his ability.

Amado Guevara: Crafty and polished, the 2004 scoring champ is capable of MVP-like performance at any time.
Eddie Gaven: A rising star with commanding presence, Gaven is becoming a leader on the attack.

FORWARDS
Sergio Galvan Rey: Will feel more pressure than any other player on the team if he doesn't drastically improve 2004 output.
John Wolyniec: Always finds a way to score, but might need to better his 10-goal output of last season for the team to challenge for title.

OUTLOOK
It could be rough going for the MetroStars until they settle on a lineup. But with a strong cast of players and the best coach in the league, the playoffs are a reasonable expectation. The health of veteran signing Youri Djorkaeff and the ability to find a consistent source of goals will be key.

NEWCOMER WITH THE BIGGEST IMPACT: Jeff Agoos
Not only does the U.S. national team veteran have some big shoes to fill on the back line, where he'll replace Eddie Pope, but he is also expected to come into the locker room and serve as the vocal leader for a team that has historically lacked a player with his kind of championship pedigree and experience. Eager to prove that his 37-year-old legs still have enough stamina to lead the team to its first major trophy, no player on the team will feel more pressure this year.

Rich Schneider is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.