Preseason underscores Western Conference's depth

[MLS 2013 COUNTDOWN] Preseason play did nothing to shoot down the argument that the Western Conference will be deep this season. The only team that could not take many positives away from the last month is Colorado, winner of only one of five matches. Seattle looked ready to tackle all comers, whether in MLS or Concacaf Champions League play, with a sweep of four games at the Desert Diamond Cup. The big surprise was Chivas USA, which went unbeaten with its new lineup imported from south of the border. For how the Western Conference teams fared, ranked 1-9 ...

Yesterday: Eastern Conference

1. SEATTLE (record: 4-1-1): The Sounders won all four games to capture the Desert Diamond Cup and showed off considerable depth ... The 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the Tucson final came with the "B" team on the field ... Sigi Schmid had fielded his "A" team the night before in its 0-0 tie with Veracruz -- a good prep for the upcoming Concacaf Champions League series against Tigres ... Homegrown player DeAndre Yedlin has improved every game to the point that Schmid started him at right back with the "A" team against Veracruz ... Former Liverpool Djimi Traore showed enough to earn a contract and give the Sounders another insurance policy on the backline, where Patrick Ianni is sidelined after breaking his foot doing a jump test ... German DP Christian Tiffert's situation needs to be resolved.

Opener: March 2 vs. Montreal
Likely lineup: Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin (Univ. of Akron), Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, David Estrada, Eddie Johnson
Lineup breakdown: 10 returnees, 1 newcomer/5 Americans, 6 foreigners.

2. VANCOUVER (4-1-1): The Whitecaps opened with five straight wins against all opponents before falling to the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, for their only loss of the preseason ... Gambian teenager Kekuta Manneh could have earned himself a starting job with a strong preseason ... There might be changes on the way as Honduran Johnny Leveron and Englishman Nigel Reo-Coker were signed late in preseason ... Leveron could eventually take over for Jay DeMerit if the U.S. veteran's Achilles' tendon problems persist, while Reo-Coker should move into midfield, meaning that Alain Rochat will return to left back ... DeMerit missed the final six matches of preseason but Coach Martin Rennie hopes he'll be fit to go on opening day.

Opener: March 2 vs. Toronto FC.
Likely lineup: Joe Cannon; Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O’Brien, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey; Kobayashi Diago (Shimizu S-Pulse), Gershon Koffie, Alain Rochat, Kekuta Manneh (Austin Aztex); Kenny Miller, Darren Mattocks.
Lineup breakdown: 9 returnees, 2 newcomers/3 Americans, 8 foreigners.

3. CHIVAS USA (3-0-2): Jose Luis Sanchez Sola spent preseason putting his stamp on the new-look Chivas USA ... No less than 14 players from last year's team were traded or released, and a half a dozen players who were on the fringe of the first team at Chivas de Guadalajara or have previously played for "El Chelis" were brought into training camp ... Preseason went remarkably well for Chivas USA, which finished with a 5-0-2 overall record ... Several players who spent the preseason with the team remained unsigned: Walter Vilchez, Joaquin Velasquez, Daniel Antunez, Jose Manuel Rivera and Julio Morales.

Opener: March 2 vs. Columbus.
Likely lineup: Dan Kennedy; Mario de Luna (Guadalajara), Bobby Burling, *Walter Vilchez (Sporting Cristal); Eric Avila (Toronto FC), Marvin Iraheta, Edgar Mejia (Guadalajara), Giovani Casillas (Guadalajara), Laurent Courtois; Miller Bolanos, Juan Agudelo.
Lineup breakdown: 6 returnees, 5 newcomers/4 Americans, 7 foreigners.

4. LOS ANGELES (3-1-1): Except for a trip up the road Friday night to face the Colorado Rapids at UC Santa Barbara, the Galaxy never left Carson in preseason ... Its only loss was a 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake ... With all its center backs now healthy, the Galaxy has a glut of talent on the backline, so A.J. DeLaGarza has been moved to right back and Sean Franklin will play in front of him in midfield ... With Landon Donovan out until April, Mike Magee has been playing up front next to Robbie Keane and Colin Clark has been playing in Magee's usual spot ... Magee missed training with a minor knee injury picked up in the Colorado game, but Coach Bruce Arena says he'll be OK.

Opener: March 3 vs. Chicago.
Likely lineup: Carlo Cudicini (Tottenham); A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant; Sean Franklin, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Colin Clark (Houston Dynamo); Mike Magee, Robbie Keane.
Lineup breakdown: 9 returnees, 2 newcomers/6 Americans, 5 foreigners.

5. SAN JOSE (2-2-2): The Earthquakes begin the season with a long list of walking wounded -- Steven Beitashour, Marvin ChavezAlan Gordon and Steven Lenhart are all sidelined -- so they gave extended looks to a bunch of trialists in preseason: Sierra Leonean midfielder Abu Tommy, Mexican-American Alexandre Gonzalez Emerson, Cordell Cato, John Bostock and Sean de Silva ... The pickup of Dan Gargan (Re-Entry) and Mike Fucito (trade with Portland) proved prudent as they'll likely start to begin the season.

Opener: March 3 vs. San Jose
Likely lineup:  Jon Busch; Dan Gargan (Chicago Fire), Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow; Shea Salinas, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin, Ramiro Corrales; Chris Wondolowski, Mike Fucito (Portland Timbers)
Lineup breakdown: 9 returnees, 2 newcomers/9 Americans, 2 foreigners.

6. PORTLAND (2-2-2): Preseason started well enough with three wins in four games at the Desert Friendlies in Tucson, but the Timbers went winless in three games when they returned home for their preseason tournament ...  Effort wasn't lacking, though, as the Timbers pounded Swedish club AIK with 22 shots before getting a late equalizer from defender Michael Harrington to the delight of almost 15,000 fans at Jeld-Wen Field ... Harrington is one of five newcomers expected to start in the Timbers' season opener.

Opener: March 3 vs. New York
Likely lineup: Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Miller (Halmstad), Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Hanyer Mosquera, Michael Harrington (Sporting KC), Diego Chara, Diego Valeri (Lanus), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Kalif Alhassan, Ryan Johnson (Toronto FC), Darlington Nagbe.
Lineup breakdown: 6 returnees, 5 newcomers/3 Americans, 1 Canadian, 7 foreigners.

7. FC DALLAS (3-1-1): There's been a lot of offseason turnover in Frisco, where Brazilian Pipico was picked up from Vasco da Gama in December but was gone by early February following the signing of Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper ... Also signed in December was Frenchman Peter Luccin to replace Julian de Guzman, but he's been sidelined with knee problems ... Luccin's unavailability opened the door for Bobby Warshaw to win a starting spot alongside Andrew Jacobson in midfield ... Dallas was the only team to spend time abroad, sweeping all three games against local teams on its trip to Cancun, Mexico.

Opener: March 2 vs. Colorado
Likely lineup: Raul Fernandez (Nice); Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, George John, Michel (Aris); Andrew Jacobson, Bobby Warshaw, Jackson, David Ferreira, Fabian Castillo; Kenny Cooper (New York Red Bulls).
Lineup breakdown: 8 returnees, 3 newcomers/6 Americans, 5 foreigners.

8. REAL SALT LAKE (2-2-1): With three starters -- Jamison Olave, Will Johnson and Fabian Espindola -- traded in the offseason, three other starters -- Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert and Javier Morales -- injured and another projected starter -- Luis Gil with the U.S. U-20s -- unavailable for the start of the season, RSL's preseason goals were modest: get the replacements ready for opening day ... Preseason ended with a 1-0 loss to Seattle's "B" team in the final of the Desert Diamond Cup ... The match began well enough with RSL creating a number of good chances, but Coach Jason Kreis was unhappy with the reaction from RSL after it fell behind early in the second half.

Opener: March 3 at San Jose.
Likely lineup: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Kenny Mansally; Kyle Beckerman; Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson (San Jose Earthquakes), Sebastian Velasquez; Robbie Findley (Nottingham Forest), Alvaro Saborio.
Lineup breakdown: 9 returnees, 2 newcomers/7 Americans, 4 foreigners.

9. COLORADO (1-4-0). The loss of Jaime Castrillon (knee surgery) was not unexpected, but Martin Rivero's broken foot was a big blow. The Argentine playmaker should be out until early April ... The Rapids were the only team besides the two Los Angeles teams to not participate in one of the four preseason tournaments ... They finished with a 3-0 loss to Chivas USA in Las Vegas and a 2-1 defeat to the Galaxy in Santa Barbara ... Colorado's only win was a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes ... Veteran winger Brian Mullan was used at outside back in preseason.

Opener: March 2 at FC Dallas.
Likely lineup: Matt Pickens; Marvell Wynne, Diego Calderon (Liga de Quito), Drew Moor, Bryan Mullan; Hendry Thomas, Pablo Mastroeni, Kamani Hill; Kevin Harbottle (Univ. Catolica), Deshorn Brown (UCF), Atiba Harris (Vancouver Whitecaps).
Lineup breakdown: 7 returnees, 4 newcomers/6 Americans, 5 foreigners.

Note: record are against pro opponents only.

1 comment about "Preseason underscores Western Conference's depth".
  1. Jamie Nicewander, February 26, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.

    I watched the Chivas USA play last year and they really needed to clean house. I am glad they did. The owner is upset, and rightfully so, with the teams performance, ambition , organizational structure,etc... Expect the axe to come swiftly from this point on in the Chivas organization.

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