[MLS PRESEASON: Desert Diamond Cup]
Three of the five MLS teams in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, Chicago, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, have new head coaches,
and a fourth, Colorado, still hasn't named a head coach for the 2014 season, so there's a lot new about the teams in the Arizona tournament that kicks off Wednesday. For a look at what the five MLS
teams have to sort out in the final two weeks of preseason. Wednesday Schedule: Game 1:
Chivas USA v. FC
Tucson, 1 pm MT Game 2:
Colorado Rapids v. Chicago Fire, 3:30 pm MT Game 3:
Real Salt Lake v. NE Revolution,
6 pm MT (All games at North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex) CHICAGO FIRE. What needs sorting out.
At least two of the Chicago backline positions will be new as Jamaican Lovel Palmer
, a backup left back at RSL, has a
line on the right-back position left vacant by Jalil Anibaba
's trade to Seattle. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
and Patrick Ianni
moved to Chicago, giving the Fire four proven MLS center backs for two positions. For the time being, Hurtado looks to be ahead of incumbent Austin Berry
, while Bakary Soumare
holds down the other spot.
The Bradenton camp was highlighted by the play by
youngsters making strong cases that new coach Frank Yallop
should give them regular playing time sooner rather than later: Harrison Shipp
, the Notre Dame star, Benji Joya,
picked up from Santos in the weighted lottery; Victor
, the Fire academy product and Joya's former U-20 partner and finally healthy; UC Irvine draft pick Marco Franco
; and English trialist Grant Ward
from the Tottenham academy program. Preseason results. FGCU 1-0, D.C. United 2-0,
3-0, D.C. United 1-0. CHIVAS USA. What needs
Another new coaching staff to start the season -- their third in three seasons -- along with another roster makeover is norm for the course with the Rojiblancos. But so far, the
results have been positive. They headed to Tucson with a 3-0-1 record.
On top of new players like Adolfo Bautista
, Mauro Rosales
and New Zealand World Cup player Tony Lochhead
, Carlos Bocanegra
and Erick Torres
are entering their first full season with Chivas USA so this is very much a much-improved team from the team that began the 2013 season with little more
than spirit of its coach, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola
, also known as "Chelis."
On the to-do list: deciding about 31-year-old defensive midfielder Agustin Pelletieri
, who has been in camp. An early surprise has been Clemson rookie Thomas McNamara
, taken with Chivas USA's
first pick of the draft, in the second round. Preseason results. LA Galaxy 2-2, Orange County Blues 2-0, Real Salt Lake 1-0,
Colorado 2-1. COLORADO RAPIDS.
What needs sorting out.
The Rapids head into the Desert Diamond Cup still without a head coach, the latest a team has gone in preseason without a permanent boss. Pablo Mastroeni
, who retired after the 2013 season, has been running the team in preseason and a big fan favorite, but he's not the only person who has been
interviewed for the job left vacant when Oscar Pareja
returned to Dallas.
The big hole in the Rapids' lineup is the one Mastroeni held for many
years before post-concussion symptoms slowed him down. Hendry Thomas
was shipped to FC Dallas, and Spaniard Jose Mari
as yet without a contract, was brought in with the idea he'd fill the Honduran's spot at holding midfielder.
Otherwise, it's a big battle for the four attacking roles. Vicente Sanchez
and Gabriel Torres
are around for their first full season, Edson
is healthy after missing the 2013 preseason with a knee injury, Cameroonian Charles Eloundou
finally joined the team, Honduran international Marvin Chavez
is seeking a fresh start with the World Cup on the horizon, and Homegrown product Dillon Serna
is pushing for
playing time. And, oh, Dillon Powers
and Deshorn Brown
are back for their sophomore seasons, meaning there's lot of
talent for whoever gets the coaching job to work with. Preseason results. Houston 3-2, Houston Baptist 3-0, UNLV 4-0, Chivas USA 1-2. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION. What needs sorting out.
The Revs surprised a lot of folks with their third-place finish in 2013, but they'll need to continue to improve if they want to hold off the
likes of big-spending Philadelphia and Toronto in the Eastern Conference.UPDATE: Revs pick up Bunbury from Sporting KC
With lots of young players in the lineup -- Andrew Farrell
and Scott Caldwell
are now second-year players and Kelyn Rowe
into his third year -- there's still room for improvement, but there are two big question marks up front.
First of all, Dimitry Imbongo
or Jerry Bengtson
up front? Bengtson scored nine goals in 12 World Cup qualifiers for Honduras but has scored only three goals in two seasons with the Revs. Of the
big-name attacking players MLS has brought into the league in the last two years, Bengtson may be the biggest disappointment. Imbongo only scored four goals over the same period but got the nod last
year over Bengtson late in the season because of his ability to play as the lone striker in Coach Jay Heaps
' favored 4-1-4-1 formation.
question up front: Who will replace Juan Agudelo
's production? He ended up playing only 14 games for the Revs before bolting as a free agent to Europe, but he
scored seven goals and made everyone around him better. Heaps' task is complicated because Saer Sene
is sidelined with a broken ankle. A pair of draft picks,
Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins
and Frenchman Pierre Omanga
out of Division II Southern New Hampshire, both saw
time in Florida, but neither is the short-term answer if the Revs want to increase their scoring output of 49 goals in 2013.
Finally, Heaps will have to made a decision about who to go
with in goal, where Matt Reis
has retired. Bobby Shuttleworth
and Brad Knighton
both got to work full games in Florida. Preseason results.
Malmo FF 1-1, Philadelphia 1-1, Ft. Lauderdale
Strikers 2-1. REAL SALT LAKE. What
needs sorting out.
RSL returns every starter from its team that fell to Sporting Kansas City in a shootout in MLS Cup 2013, so it's more about getting everyone healthy and up to full speed than
fitting new players in new spots as it goes through its four games at Kino. Nick Rimando
, Kyle Beckerman
and Luis Gil
-- who all played in the USA's 2-0 win over South Korea -- are back from national team duty, but more important Tucson will allow new head coach
to get injured Tony Beltran
and Chris Schuler
re-inserted into the
lineup in the back.
Players pushing for more playing time in 2014 include Carlos Salcedo
at center back, Sebastien
in midfield and Devon Sandoval
and Olmes Garcia
up front. Rookies hoping to get into the mix include
at right back and Jordan Allen
on the left side of the midfield diamond. Preseason
RSL AZ 1-1, UC Irvine 1-1, Chivas USA 0-1.