The 2016 MLS season ended with Seattle winning the championship despite registering zero shots on goal in the MLS Cup Final against Toronto. Those two teams look to be the elite of their conferences again.
Here’s one fan’s prediction as to how the season will play out:
Toronto FC: No major changes to a team that is primed to win what it had every chance to win last season: the championship.
New York FC: This team will score a lot of goals. Unfortunately, its defense will likely again surrender too many.
New York Red Bulls: If the Red Bulls overcome the trade of their captain and the departure of their coach, they could grab the conference crown.
Columbus Crew: The Crew’s defense will make the improvements needed to move way up in the standings.
Montreal Impact: Talented enough to get to the playoffs, but not talented enough to make a deep playoff run. And watch the age of this team.
DC United: This team should grab the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but does anyone believe it is capable of challenging the top four?
Atlanta United: The best thing about being an expansion team: Anything the team does is considered great. The worst thing: Do too much and expectations build too quickly.
Chicago Fire: The Fire remain a couple players away from moving into the top half of the conference standings. But the future finally looks bright.
Orlando City: New stadium. Same players. And that means a team that has come close to the playoffs the past two years could finally move up. Or back.
New England Revolution: Teams that play in Gillette Stadium are not supposed to be bad. The boss is not likely to be patient if this club struggles early.
Philadelphia Union: A couple teams got better, and this team might have gotten worse. A long summer awaits.
Seattle Sounders: A deep and talented team that is absolutely capable of winning a second straight championship.
FC Dallas: Has the broken record been fixed? Great regular seasons and post-season disasters have become the norm. New faces could make the difference.
Portland Timbers: The 2015 champions look to be a notch below the western elites. Much like NYCFC, scoring is not the problem but stopping the other team from scoring is.
LA Galaxy: Better get a scorecard; there have been many changes. The Galaxy is a younger team. It might be a really good team at season’s end.
Sporting Kansas City: This team appears stuck in the middle, good enough to be in the playoff hunt but not good enough to be an elite team.
Colorado Rapids: The Rapids won’t surprise anyone this season, so missing the playoffs is more than possible. Biggest question: Who will score the big goals?
Real Salt Lake: Nothing about this team looks terrible. Nothing about this team looks great. Average in this conference could mean no post-season.
San Jose Earthquakes: A dull to bad team for three straight years, San Jose could grab a playoff spot this season.
Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo might not challenge for a playoff position, but this team could win a game or two that determines which teams ahead of them will.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Unless Fredy Montero can be cloned and play all 10 positions, Vancouver is not a playoff team this season.
Minnesota United: The United will not be the worst MLS expansion team ever, but there’s no way it will be anywhere near the best.