As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.
10 – MLS clubs who have never won an MLS Cup
In the first 17 seasons of MLS, nine clubs shared the spoils. That leaves 10 clubs without a star on their jersey: Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Now, lumping all of those 10 clubs together isn't really fair to several of them. After all, Montreal have only existed for one season, and the Timbers and Whitecaps have only two years on their resumes. Even Philadelphia and Seattle have a mere three and four years in the league, respectively. It takes time to build a winner – usually more than two or three or even four years. (The Fire's 1998 expansion year title remains a huge outlier, not only in MLS, but also in North American sports.)
But once those five clubs are forgiven for their youth, that leaves the five other clubs, each of which has at least six years' experience in the league, and three of which who trace their trophy-less history back to the very beginning of the league. Dallas, the Revolution, and the Red Bulls are the remaining MLS originals without an MLS Cup to their name.
So, can any of these clubs break the spell this season?
Of the five relative newbies, the Sounders are probably the only one ready truly to contend. At least that's what Sounders fans expect. After all, for four years, they've been made a habit of being "nearly there," it seems. Perhaps the departure of Fredy Montero and the addition of Shalrie Joseph and Lamar Neagle (and maybe another soon-to-be-signed heavyweight) will be the difference.
On paper, the Red Bulls seem to have the best chance of the three originals. They have firepower, an experienced, if revamped, defense, and a game-breaking attacking midfielder to run the show. But we've said all of this before about New York, haven't we?
The Revolution, if we're being frank, are still being remade to second-year coach Jay Heaps's specifications. They're going to be better this year than last, but they aren't going to challenge for the Cup just yet.
Dallas are an enigma. They've undergone some upheaval this offseason, jettisoning some expensive veterans and bringing in a few proven attackers. Plus, a healthy David Ferreira. Still, it's hard to see them challenging this year. They need another season to jell.
Toronto and Chivas USA ... well, they have their work cut out for them. New coaches, new players, new attititudes -- but is it all enough to effect a change? Most people would say no. Then again, one of the beautiful truisms about the parity-driven MLS is this: Expect the unexpected. Maybe, just maybe, the Goats and the Reds will meet come December with the Cup on the line.