How MLS's five clubs preparing for CCL openers are shaping up

All five MLS teams competing in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League have opened preseason training, and one team, New York City FC, plays its first preseason game on Wednesday.

Here's a look at where they stand ...

Atlanta United (CCL opponent: Motagua/HON). In a swap of Argentines, Fernando Meza joined the Five Stripes from Necaxa and should step into the backline in place of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who was sold to Tijuana.

The question marks are how Atlanta United will fill the hole left by the trade of Darlington Nagbe to Columbus and what it will do about left back, a revolving door much of last season. For both those positions, Atlanta United is looking to swing deals to bring in players from abroad.

One option at left back is 17-year-old George Bello. In training camp is possible (short-term) help in 33-year-old trialist Edgar Castillo. Also in camp for a tryout and expected to sign is 29-year-old striker Adam Jahn, who was a 2019 Best XI pick in the USL Championship with Phoenix.

2020 MLS Roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, Alec Kann, Brendan Moore.
Defenders (7): George Bello, George Campbell, Franco Escobar, *Jon Gallagher, Brooks Lennon, Fernando Meza, Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes.
Midfielders (8): Mo Adams, Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton, Luiz Fernando, Julian Gressel, Emerson Hyndman, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Remedi.
Forwards (4): Lagos Kunga, Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, Tito Villalba.
*On loan to Aberdeen (Scotland).


LAFC (CCL opponent: Leon/MEX). LAFC opened pre-season camp on Monday without five players who are preparing for the Conmebol Preolímpico, the South American Olympic qualifying tournament that starts Saturday in Colombia: They include Ecuadoran Jose Cifuentes, who signed on Monday, Colombians Eduard Atuesta and Eddie Segura and Uruguayans Diego Rossi and Francisco Ginella.

LAFC did not re-sign goalkeeper Tyler Miller and right back Steven Beitashour, the only two players who started a majority of games last season and aren't back in 2020. Pablo Sisniega returns in goal while Feyenoord goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer is mentioned as a possible signing.

On trial is Bradley Wright-Phillips, released after seven seasons (and 108 goals) with the Red Bulls.

2020 MLS Roster:
Goalkeepers (1): Pablo Sisniega.
Defenders (8): Tristan Blackmon, Mohamed El-Munir, Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jakovic, Diego Palacios, Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva, Walker Zimmerman.
Midfielders (6): Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing, Jose Cifuentes, Francisco Ginella, Alejandro Guido, Mark-Anthony Kaye.
Forwards (7): Adama Diomande, Danny Musovski, Adrien Perez, Josh Perez, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela.


Montreal (CCL opponent: Saprissa/CRC). The Impact opened camp at the Complexe sportif Marie-Victorin in Montreal under new coach Thierry Henry. It will later train in Orlando and St. Petersburg, both in Florida.

The only player missing was Samuel Piette, who is with the Canadian national team in Irvine, California, playing a series of friendly games in its bid to gain FIFA ranking points and overcome El Salvador in the battle for the sixth and final place in the Hexagonal.

2020 MLS Roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Evan Bush, Clement Diop, James Pantemis.
Defenders (6): Rudy Camacho, Jorge Corrales, Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala, Joel Waterman, Karifa Yao.
Midfielders (9): Clement Bayiha, Bojan, Mathieu Choiniere, Lassi Lappalainen, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Amar Sejdic, Shamit Shome, Saphir Taider.
Forwards (3): Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Romell Quioto, Maxi Urruti.

Academy Watch:  Goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, defender Keesean Ferdinand, midfielder Tomas Giraldo and striker Jean-Aniel Assi, will take part in the first phase of camp. Defender Zachary Fernandez and midfielder Yannick Laurent will join the first team in St. Petersburg.


New York City FC (CCL opponent: San Carlos/CRC). NYCFC was the last MLS team to confirm its coach for the 2020 season when it named Norwegian Ronny Deila as head coach just five days before it opened camp. It plays its first preseason game on Wednesday when it faces Brazil's Corinthians in the Florida Cup in Orlando.

Three players are missing: U.S. national team keeper Sean Johnson, who is at January camp in Bradenton, Florida, and Argentine Valentin Castellanos and Paraguayan Jesus Medina, who are in Colombia for Olympic qualifying.

2020 MLS Roster:
Goalkeeper (3): Luis Barraza, Sean Johnson, Brad Stuver.
Defenders (8): Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray, Sebastien Ibeagha, Ronald Matarrita, James Sands, Joe Scally, Anton Tinnerholm.
Midfielders (7): Justin Haak, Maxi Moralez, Keaton Parks, Alex Ring, Tony Rocha, Juan Pablo Torres, Gedion Zelalem.
Forwards (6): Valentin Castellanos, Heber, Gary Mackay-Steven, Jesus Medina, Alexandru Mitrita, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Academy Watch: Ten players for the NYCFC academy (the 2018 and 2019 U/18-19 Development Academy champion) traveled to Florida: defenders Kamran Acito and Prince Amponsah, midfielders Cooper Flax, Colman Kim, Julio Lansade and Joe Suchecki and forwards Osaze De Rosario (the son of Dwayne De Rosario), Tijani Fatah, U.S. U-17 Andres Jasson and Nicholas Kapanadz.


Seattle (CCL opponent: Olimpia/HON). The 2019 MLS champions held their first session on Tuesday at their Starfire Sports practice facility in snowy Tukwila. They head to Cal State Long Beach on Sunday and will travel to Mexico City on Feb. 6 to train at the Mexican federation's training center.

The Sounders opened camp without three of the four starters on their backline at MLS Cup 2019: Roman Torres, Kim Kee-hee and Brad Smith. None is expected back in 2020. While it waits to sign a center back to partner young Ecuadoran Xavier Arreaga, Seattle has signed veteran defender Shane O’Neill. Also getting a shot will be former U.S. U-20 Sam Rogers from the Tacoma Defiance, the Sounders' second team.

Missing in Tukwila were Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris, who are will the USA in Florida, along with Gustav Svensson, Nouhou and Emmanuel Cecchini.

2020 MLS Roster:
Goalkeeper (3): Stefan Cleveland, Stefan Frei, Trey Muse
Defenders (5): Xavier Arreaga, Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, Nouhou, Shane O'Neill.
Midfielders (7): Handwalla Bwana, Emanuel Cecchini, Jordy Delem, Danny Leyva, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Harry Shipp, Gustav Svensson.
Forwards (5): Will Bruin, Justin Dhillon Jordan, Morris,  Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raul Ruidiaz.

Academy Watch: Chris Hegardt, Ethan Dobbelaere, Antino Lopez and Alex Villanueva join six other teenagers, pros from the Defiance, in camp.

Photos: Seattle Sounders/Mike Fiechtner, LAFC

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