[MLS PRESEASON: Disney Pro Classic]
The Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic gets underway Wednesday with four games headlined by a super cup of sorts as MLS Cup
2013 champion Sporting Kansas City faces 2013 Supporters' Shield winner New York in the second game. Six MLS teams are entered in addition to Orlando City (set to join MLS in 2015) and Fluminense's
U-23 team (featuring former U.S. U-20 and U-17 Alfred Koroma
). For a look at what the six MLS teams have to sort out in the final two weeks of preseason.
Wednesday Schedule: Game 1: Columbus Crew 3 Toronto FC 1. Game 2:
New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m. ET Game 3:
Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union, 6 p.m. ET Game 4:
Montreal Impact vs. Fluminense U-23, 8 p.m. ET (All games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.) COLUMBUS CREW. What needs sorting out.
New coach Gregg Berhalter
was a defender
during his playing days in Europe and with the LA Galaxy and U.S. national team, so the first thing to look at is how he re-works the defense. Chad Marshall
fixture in the middle for 10 seasons (253 games), and Brazilian Glauber
are gone. The only thing that is for sure is Michael
, battling for a World Cup spot, will start somewhere in the back.
As for the rest of the lineup, the other sure thing is that Argentine star Federico Higuain
, now in his third season and back with the team after battling an illness early in preseason, will pull the strings in the five-man midfield behind a lone striker. Preseason results. Malmo FF 1-0. MONTREAL IMPACT. What needs sorting out.
The Impact is the only team besides Columbus at Disney with a new
coach (Frank Klopas
) and the last MLS team to venture outdoors. After three weeks indoors at Marie Victorin College, Montreal finally hit Florida last week
ahead of the Disney Classic, which it won in 2013.
Klopas says he already knew a lot about the Impact, having coached against it during the last two seasons with the Chicago Fire. Impact
players got a chance during the indoor work to get to know Klopas. Early reports are they like the feedback they're getting from him in contrast to the chaotic reign of Swiss coach Marco Schallibaum
The Impact has two big holes to fill: former Italian World Cup champion Alessandro Nesta
retired and captain Davy Arnaud
has moved to D.C. United. Nesta's retirement means that the center-back pairing of Matteo
and Hassoun Camara
could become permanent as Camara often slid into the middle last season when Nesta was unavailable. As for the Impact
captaincy, Klopas has handed the armband to Patrice Bernier
. Preseason results. Orlando
City 1-0. NEW YORK RED BULLS. What needs sorting
Last year at this time, Mike Petke
was just settling in as the Red Bulls' head coach. He didn't do too bad as a
last-minute appointment -- the Red Bulls won the Supporters' Shield for their first ever MLS trophy.
A new year has brought new battles as at least four positions are up for grabs:
incumbent Kosuke Kimura
against Richard Eckersley
(formerly of Toronto FC) at right back, Ugandan vet Ibrahim Sekagya
against Spanish signing Armando
at center back next to Jamison Olave
(signed to a new contract), Roy Miller
against Bobby Convey
(another Toronto FC castoff) at left back and Lloyd Sam
and Eric Alexander
in a dogfight at right midfield. Peguy Luyindula
over as playmaker late in the 2013 season and looks like he will keep it until further notice. Preseason results. USF 0-2,
Philadelphia 2-1. PHILADELPHIA UNION. What needs sorting
The Union's preseason game against the Red Bulls in Jacksonville gave Philly fans their first chance to see its new midfield with recent acquisitions
, Cristian Maidana
and Vincent Nogueira
all starting. The five-man
midfield also included captain Brian Carroll
as the holding midfielder and Danny Cruz
on the right side opposite
Several issues will be need to be resolved: who starts up front if John Hackworth
goes with one striker -- Jack McInerney
or Conor Casey
? -- who starts at center back alongside Amobi Okugo
-- rookie Richard Marquez
out of D3 Redlands got the start against the Red Bulls -- and where to play Sebastien Le Toux
if he starts.
For now, Zac MacMath
looks to keep his starting job in goal ahead of No. 1 SuperDraft pick Andre Blake
Preseason results. New England 1-1, Univ. of North Florida 9-1, New York 1-2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY. What needs sorting out.
Even though they were at first
missing five starters on national team duty in Brazil, the defending champs had two solid weeks of training in Arizona before heading to Orlando. After returning from Brazil, free agent Chance Myers
sorted out his contractual arrangements, signing a new deal.
SKC camp opened with Eric Kronberg
perennial backup, as the No. 1 ahead of newcomer Andy Gruenebaum
in the battle to replace retired Jimmy Nielsen
and the Cal product started all three games in Arizona.
SKC has one of the deepest frontlines in MLS with Claudio Bieler
, C.J. Sapong
, Teal Bunbury
, Soony Saad
and Dom Dywer
all back in
2014, but none has held the mantle of the SKC go-to guy and grasped it for long. Bunbury leads
the quintet with
19 career MLS goals, the fourth fewest goals of the leading scorer of any MLS team. To the list of goal scorers, you should add a name: Sal Zizzo
, picked up from Portland in the
offseason, had two of the five SKC goals in Arizona.UPDATE: Revs pick up Bunbury from Sporting KC Preseason results.
FC Tucson 1-0, Portland 1-1, Indy Eleven 3-1. TORONTO FC. What needs sorting out.
Foggy Bradenton meant it was hard to figure just who was new in the Toronto FC lineup as it opened preseason play with a 1-0 win over D.C. United at the IMG Academy
Stadium. But, yes, that was Michael Bradley
at the controls in midfield, and Dwayne De Rosario
back with in TFC's red
jersey. Not playing were the three Brazilians -- Jackson
and goalie Julio
-- all new the team and all now in Orlando for the Disney Classic. Not yet with the team is the other big offseason signing, Jermain Defoe
officially becomes Toronto property at the end of February.
The new signings give Toronto plenty of firepower up front, but Ryan Nelsen
rebuild the backline in front of Julio Cesar
(or Joe Bendik
when the Brazilian heads to the World Cup). Nelsen has
enough confidence in center back Steven Caldwell
that he intends for the Scotsman to keep his captain's armband. Preseason results. D.C. United 1-0.