Soccer / ibrahimovic

jon.bonomo
MLS 2019 - 5 Things You Need to Know Before this Weekend
MLS offseason didn’t disappoint when it came to providing talking points. Here’s everything you missed and what you need to know for this weekend’s start to the season. The 2019 MLS season starts this weekend (Sat 3/2), and I’m here to provide a primer guide for this year. Whether you’re new to the MLS, a returning fan, or a never-miss-anything rapid junkie, this is your place on Scorum to get excited about this year’s MLS season. I avoided writing about the MLS extensively on Scorum last year, besides a few critical pieces, because the league, namely my childhood team, was in a middle of a chaotic relocation saga involving the league, the Columbus Crew, and the city of Austin, Texas. You can read how the story eventually ended here. Short version, the Crew are staying, they are getting a new stadium, and I’m now back covering the league for the 2019/2020 season. I’m still disappointed and upset with the league for even allowing the Crew’s owner to attempt to move the team, but for now, I’ll have to let that go. I’m still very angry with the actual league itself. Alright, enough with talking about the past, let’s look forward to what is in store for us this year. Here’s the 5 things any sports fan needs to know about the MLS 2019 season before it starts. Miguel Almiron is Gone – Now What? Source: YahooSports The Miguel Almiron transfer from Atlanta United to Newcastle was an excellent move for the league. It helps further legitimize MLS as a league that can develop top flight talent, but now the returning Champions are left having to fill the void. Almiron totaled 21 goals last season and will look to replicate his form in the Premier League. So far he’s played two matches since joining the EPL club. Almiron not only built a reputation for himself, but he also helped win Atlanta United the MLS Final. With such an exciting player out of the league, who will replace him? The answer: Pity Martinez. This year Martinez won South American Player of the Year, an award that the likes of Neymar, Tevez and Veron have all won in the past. The 25 year old Argentine intentional player was given the #10 jersey and will be the nucleus of their team going forward. Atlanta United continues to make brilliant moves. Rather than going after washed-up old European talent, which the league has done for many years, we are seeing a shift towards clubs targeting young South American talent, developing them, and then selling them for massive profits. This is the way forward for the league, and Atlanta United’s signing of Pity Martinez is another example of this progressive trend. FC Cincinnati Joins MLS as the 24th Team The league continues to expand with the new addition of 2nd division FC Cincinnati to the MLS. In the past, the club has been successful in the USL but now they will try to transfer this success into the MLS and see if they can hold their own in the 1st division. Although Cincy isn’t a new club, meaning they already had a full roster, they’ve basically scrapped the lineup and rebuilt the roster back-to-front. And I mean back-to-front literally. Cincy went after central defenders big time during the offseason, picking up tested defenders like Kendal Watson and Greg Garza. Those guys will be lining up in front of Polish international keeper Przemyslaw Tyton. Cincy will be playing their inaugural match this Saturday (3/2) against the Western giants Seattle Sounders. Their introduction to the MLS will be a test of fire and brimstone. Watching an expansion team's first season is always exciting, and the addition of Cincy now provides a Ohio state rivalry against their Columbus counterparts. Columbus Crew Hire Manager Caleb Porter Source: @ColumbusCrewSC Talking about the Columbus Crew, their offseason was anything but relaxing. A lot has happened to the Midwestern team. As chronicled in my previous posts, the Crew had to fight back against the owner’s attempts to relocate the team across the country. Those attempts failed, and instead, the Crew will be getting a bright new stadium in downtown Columbus and wont' be going anywhere. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. Even though the Crew aren’t leaving, it doesn’t mean they aren’t undergoing massive changes. Previous manager, Gregg Berhaulter, was recently awarded the manager position with the USA National Team. A huge honor for Gregg, but it leaves the Crew manager-less. Enter Caleb Porter. The man needs no introduction to MLS fans, as he was the Portland Timbers former boss, but he has been out of the limelight for a few seasons. As a Crew fan, I really like this hire. I think Porter will be a good fit for the team. He knows the club, the league, and the players. He’s familiar with how the Crew played under Berhaulter, so he should do well with transitioning them. I always thought Caleb Porter was kind of hard done by Portland when they sacked him. I know he had fallen into a slump at the time, but I still think he’s the right man for the job. He got Portland so close to an MLS Cup, and I think he’ll do well with the Crew. He plays high tempo attacking style football, fitting in nicely with what has already been built at Columbus. Vancouver's Overhauled Roster I don’t think there was any team to undergo such a dramatic change than Vancouver. Even though the team has been in the league for quite some time, they treated this offseason as if they were a newly expanded club. 15 players in and 21 players out was the combined total offseason transactions. No team was even close to making that many moves. These players coming into the club span the entire globe, ranging from Brazil to England and Uruguay to South Korea--just to name a few. This team is incredibly diverse and is being built by new manager Marc Dos Santos, who has managed in Canada, USA, and Brazil. I’m not sure if this new global team can all come together on the pitch to create something effective, but I do like the bravery of the club to try something like this. Radical goals sometimes call for radical change. The club brought in a new manager and 15 new players. Can’t wait to see how this grand experiment goes. Should be fun to watch no matter what happens. Famous Faces Join the League A couple of big names join the league, while some returning big-star names have also been tied down to new extended contracts. It looks like both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney will both be staying in the league. In addition, Portuguese international star, Nani, joins MLS, calling Orlando home. The league also brought in manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Many outside North & South American might not be familiar with who he is but that needs to change. Guillermo was hired by Argentine superclub Boca Juniors. Upon taking the helm, he won back to back league titles in 2016-17 and then again in 2017-18. He also took Boca Juniors to the 2018 Copa Libertadores final but lost to rivals River Plate. Guillermo, who was once manager for the Columbus Crew, has now rejoined the MLS again after his stint in Italy and Argentina. LA Galaxy has given him the managerial job with Zlatan at his fingertips. With both the Dos Santos brothers and Zlatan on the roster with Guillermo now in the driver’s seat, LA is going to be a force to be reckon with in 2019. Watch out. See You on Saturday Can We Get Some Action On BetScorum I didn’t cover it all, but that’s a good place to start. In total, the league brought in six new managers. Here’s hoping these additions help expand the leagues diversity in style of play and the diversity in managerial tactics. There also a few other big transfers like Alphonso Davies being sold to Bayern Munich and Tyler Adams heading to RB Leipzig. The Bundasliga has consistently been a good home for Americans, and I’m hoping that trend continues. The USMNT needs Tyler Adams to develop nicely in Germany. I know MLS is often the butt of many jokes, but as a longtime fan, I truly believe the league has turned a corner over the past few years. We really are heading into uncharted territory for the league. It’s become sort of a go-big or bust type scenario for MLS, and I think this year will really show what direction the league is heading. Not sure about you, but I’m excited to find out. ______________________________________________________________________________________
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