adidas Nativo ball - 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine
Andy Mead / MLS

Armchair Analyst: Needs for all 20 teams heading into the adidas MLS Player Combine

It’s been a typically choppy offseason thus far, with new additions arriving in fits and starts rather than all at once.

That will, of course, change a little bit next Thursday, the day of the annual SuperDraft. Chances are all 20 teams will add at least one new face to the mix. Here’s what each of them need:

Chicago Fire

1. Immediate starters on the backline
2. Wing depth
3. Goalkeeper depth

Obviously this team’s undergoing a massive overhaul, and just as obvious is that they should address their biggest need (central defense) by taking Joshua Yaro No. 1 overall in the draft. They’ll get some other answers from within, but expect a flurry of imports descending upon the Midway in the next two months.

Colorado Rapids

1. A true playmaker
2. Fullback depth
3. Goalscoring wingers

I maintain that Dillon Powers has been miscast as a No. 10 under Pablo Mastroeni, and would work best controlling the game from deep. That’d open up a spot for a true playmaker – a Lee Nguyen or Mauro Diaz-type – underneath DP striker Kevin Doyle. They won’t find that in the draft, but Jack Harrison is the type of talent who can force himself into the lineup in one spot or another.

Philadelphia Union

1. Left back
2. Central defensive depth
3. Fullback depth

They’ve yet to re-sign Fabinho, which could (should) point them toward taking Brandon Vincent No. 3 overall in the draft. He’s an immediate starter. They can use the rest of their picks on “best talent available” types and, of course, rely upon Earnie Stewart to fill out the remainder of the roster using his European connections and signees from the academy.

New York City FC

1. Size in central defense
2. A true d-mid
3. Youth & talent basically anywhere

This roster needs help in a bunch of spots, but I think it’s clearly got to begin by adding some size in the back (note: “size” and “skill” are not mutually exclusive, and “size” is most definitely an asset for a central defender when used correctly). The other pressing need is for a true defensive midfielder who can cover the acreage Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard won’t reach, but they probably won’t find the next Claude Makelele in this draft.

Real Salt Lake

1. A goal-scoring No. 9
2. Depth on the wing
3. A game-changing No. 8

The days of Saborio are long, long gone at this point. Sebastian Jaime has proved to be a replacement level player and while I love Devon Sandoval’s brain and movement, he lacks the agility and instincts to be a double-digit scoring threat. This draft doesn’t have a ready-made upgrade, so I expect RSL will go shopping for a new No. 9. They’ll take the best player available at No. 5 and get a few other questions answered by their academy.

Houston Dynamo

1. Fullback depth
2. More dynamic passing in central midfield
3. A goal-scoring playmaker

Houston’s been the busiest team in the league this offseason, adding everything from a new owner to a new No. 10 to one of the most underrated Homegrown defenders out there in Bradley Bourgeois. They traded out of the first round and may not pick at all, instead relying upon more wheeling-and-dealing, academy signings and overseas scouting.

Orlando City SC

1. Stability
2. Speed on the wings
3. A ball-playing central defender

For a team that had a good first year and has a roster I like, OCSC’s decision makers have been weirdly unstable this offseason, so I’m not sure what they’ll focus on. What I can say is this: When their speed options were all hurt or not performing, their attack cratered. If they can find that in the draft, they should go home happy.

San Jose Earthquakes

1. Youth in central defense
2. Fullback depth
3. Speed up top

Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez were mostly very good last year, but they’re the oldest centerback pairing in the league and there’s no ready-made replacements in the fold. The Quakes are also pretty thin at both fullback spots, so I think those needs outweigh anything else in question – especially in light of the attacking acquisitions they’ve already made.

Toronto FC

1. True wingers
2. A real No. 6
3. A Jozy back-up

TFC are probably married to some sort of two-forward alignment since that’s the best way to fit Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore together, but the rest of the team looks like it’s set up better for a 4-3-3. Getting a speed option out wide would be nice for that reason. But honestly, the Reds will take whoever they rate as the best talent left on the board, regardless of position.

New England Revolution

1. Central defensive depth
2. A game-changing No. 8
3. Fullback depth

The Revs somehow have a threadbare backline, which needs to be addressed by any means necessary. It also looks like they’ll have a Jermaine Jones-sized hole in central midfield, but I expect them to go shopping overseas to answer that question.

Sporting KC

1. Size in central defense
2. A back-up No. 9
3. Central midfield depth

Ike Opara’s injury changed the way the team played last season, and given his health issues through his career Sporting can’t plan on him being around full-time in 2016. They will count on Dom Dwyer for heavy minutes, though – and given the way he wore down last year, they’d be wise to find a No. 9 who can do a little bit of the heavy lifting for him from time to time.

LA Galaxy

1. Fullback depth
2. A true defensive midfielder
3. Depth in central defense

LA sold two of their dynasty’s cornerstones this offseason, so this really is a new era. They have what looks like 10 of a solid starting XI, but given the age of several key players, and the propensity for injury of others, they badly need to add bodies up and down the field. I’d look for them to start at fullback.

D.C. United

1. Central midfield
2. A young No. 9
3. Third goalkeeper

If Perry Kitchen really is gone then United are probably in a bit of trouble. Markus Halsti and Davy Arnaud are both well on the other side of 30, and neither Jared Jeffrey nor Collin Martin has the kind of defensive range necessary to play as a pure, box-to-box central midfielder in an old-fashioned 4-4-2. It should be noted that D.C. always draft well, but this is a huge mountain to climb.

Montreal Impact

1. Central defenders
2. Youth in central midfield
3. Fullback depth

Look, the one thing that this team really, really needs is for Didier Drogba to come back. He’s like LeBron James – his soccer IQ is so high that he just sort of instantly understands how to make everyone else’s strengths resonate more than their weaknesses. A nice draft pick here isn’t going to fill that void.

Seattle Sounders FC

1. Central midfield depth
2. A pure No. 9 to back up Oba
3. More speed

Like Montreal, Seattle find themselves in a “will he, won’t he?” situation that far outweighs the importance of the draft. Jordan Morris can change the shape of the field for this team, and they know it. Any pick at No. 15 will be for depth and the chance to groom a talent down in S2, and perhaps a few spot starts like Cristian Roldan and Oniel Fisher got last season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

1. Right back depth
2. Depth in central defense
3. Another winger who can run

It’s impossible to look at this roster and say “they need this, they need that.” The ‘Caps are damn near full and have already addressed their biggest need (goalscoring from the forwards) with the signing of Masato Kudo. The rest should come from the natural progression of the guys already on the roster. That said, finding another right back to bring along here wouldn’t be a bad idea.

FC Dallas

1. Center forward
2. Central defense
3. Goalkeeper depth

FCD got part of their No. 9 answer when they took Maxi Urruti in the Re-Entry Draft, but I think they still need to do a little bit more shopping to completely fill the position. I doubt that gets addressed here, as Dallas are much more likely to simply pick the best talent available and let Oscar Pareja work his magic.

New York Red Bulls

1. Central defense
3. Lock-down left back
3. Size

Once you get to this point in the draft, pretty much everybody has a stacked roster. The only issue for the Red Bulls could come if they end up selling Matt Miazga, which would drop them down to three central defenders after Friday's re-signing of Damien Perrinelle. Regardless, anybody they pick up here is most likely to be a draft-and-stash signing.

Columbus Crew SC

1. Backup No. 9
2. Athleticism in central midfield
3. Wing depth

This is a team with no real holes, save for a back-up to Kei Kamara at target forward and maybe a change-of-pace central midfielder who can burst through the lines. You’re not likely to find either of those things at No. 19, so expect them to just go with whatever the best talent left on the board happens to be.

Portland Timbers

1. Super-sub forward
2. Goalkeeper depth
3. Youth in central defense

The loss of Urruti is the big story for Portland, who wouldn’t have won MLS Cup without his ability to come in late and change games. They’ll most likely go shopping overseas for his replacement, and simply take the best talent left to them with this pick, then stash him in USL with T2.

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