[NEW IN MLS: Centerbacks]MLS has some excellent centerback tandems, beginning with MLS Cup 2013 finalists Sporting Kansas City (Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin) and Real Salt Lake (Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler) and the San Jose Earthquakes, who could send both their starters (Victor Bermudez and Clarence Goodson) to the World Cup.
Three clubs swooped in to shore up their backlines with the acquisition of former MLS Defenders of the Year. Also on the move was a former finalist for Defender of the Year. The one import of note comes from Argentina, where he played more than 100 first division games.
JALIL ANIBABA/CHAD MARSHALL (Seattle). The Sounders made big moves on its backline. The first was with the acquisition of Marshall, a two-time MLS Defender of the Year with Columbus, followed later by the trade that brought Anibaba from Chicago for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni. Marshall should start, while Anibaba will allow the Sounders to give former Liverpool defender Djimi Traore more rest than it was able to in 2013 or use him on the right side, where he played for the Fire.
BOBBY BOSWELL/JEFF PARKE (D.C. United).After winning just three games in 2013 and giving up numerous silly goals, United needed to blow up its backline. Boswell (picked up from Houston in the Re-Entry Draft) and Parke (acquired in a deal with Philly that included the No. 1 allocation pick the Union used to acquire Maurice Edu) give D.C. two very experienced center backs, both with caps for the USA.
JHON KENNEDY HURTADO/PATRICK IANNI (Chicago). The Fire returns Bakary Soumare, a former MLS Best XI pick, and Austin Berry, the MLS Rookie of Year in 2012, but Hurtado, a finalist, and Ianni will allow new coach Frank Yallop to go four deep in the middle of the backline or use one of them as trade bait if he wants to part with one of them. All but Berry make decent money.
ANDREW JEAN-BAPTISTE (Chivas USA).As the second worst team in MLS in 2013 behind D.C. United, Chivas USA used its No. 2 slots in various MLS mechanisms to fill needs. It traded the No. 2 pick in the allocation order to Chivas USA to pick up Argentine playmaker Mauro Rosalesfrom Seattle, and it gave Portland the No. 2 pick in the Re-Entry Draft (used for Steve Zakuani, also of the Sounders) for Jean-Baptiste, one of MLS's most promising young center backs, originally out of UConn. He should team up with veteran Carlos Bocanegra to improve the Chivas USA backline and provide aerial threats on Rosales' set pieces.
NORBERTO PAPARATTO (Portland).The 30-year-old Paparatto, who played more than 100 games for Tigre, is part of the Argentine invasion in the Rose City. He was brought in along with forward German Fernandez to join 2013 Newcomer of the Year Diego Valeri and Maximiliano Urruti on the Timbers. Paparatto's arrival allowed the Timbers to ship Jean-Baptiste down south to Chivas USA and part ways with Mikael Silvestre, who was coming off knee surgery. He should step in right away and start alongside Gambian-Norwegian Pa Modou Kah.
MICHAEL PARKHURST (Columbus).Yes, Coach Gregg Berhalter says he might give World Cup hopeful Parkhurst some work on the outside, but his value to Crew will be in the middle organizing a young backline. In Wednesday's preseason opener, the former MLS Defender of the Year, acquired from German club Augsburg, was joined by a pair of draft picks, Patrick Slogic (Cornell) and Ben Sweat (USF) and second-year Homegrown player Chad Barson on the backline.
ETHAN WHITE (Philadelphia). United needs experience and got it with Parke, whom it acquired for White, a Homegrown product who admitted to being blindsided by the trade to Philly. He'll get a good shot at starting, though, as Colombian Carlos Valdes was loaned out for a second season.
MLS Centerbacks, Incumbents:
Chicago:*Bakary Soumare (85), Austin Berry (62).
Chivas USA:*Bobby Burling (47), Carlos Bocanegra (12).
Colorado:Drew Moor (136), Shane O'Neill (27).
Columbus:Josh Williams (57), Taylor Wahl (25).
FC Dallas: George John (119), Matt Hedges (61).
Houston:Jermaine Taylor (66), Eric Brunner (13).
Sporting KC:Matt Besler (126), Aurelien Collin (81).
LA Galaxy: Omar Gonzalez (128), Kofi Opare (6).
Montreal:Matteo Ferrari (56), Nelson Rivas (11).
New England:A.J. Soares (76), Jose Goncalves (34).
New York: Jamison Olave (29), Ibrahim Sekagya (8).
Philadelphia:Amobi Okugo 100 --
Portland:Futty Danso (50), Pa Modou Kah (20).
Real Salt Lake:Nat Borchers (173), Chris Schuler (50).
San Jose:Victor Bernandez (49), Clarence Goodson (9).
Seattle: Zach Scott (61), Djimi Traore (27).
Toronto FC:Doniel Henry (49), Steven Caldwell (23).
Vancouver:Jay DeMerit (60), Andy O'Brien (24).
In parentheses are games played with current team.
*Two separate stints at club.