MLS Eastern Conference Preview, Predictions

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DC United

Last year’s results: 17-9-8, lost in the conference semifinals to the New York Red Bulls

Head coach: Ben Olsen, in charge for a fifth full season

Big offseason addition: Jairo Arrieta, previously of the Columbus Crew

DC had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but doesn’t that feel like a long time ago? Even as the regular season was ending, DC was overshadowed by the storming Revolution; a quick exit from the playoffs and a fairly quiet offseason have United flying under the radar heading into 2015.

DC allowed 37 goals in 2014, the fewest in MLS. The defenders responsible for that have all returned for 2015: Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb, Taylor Kemp, and Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid. That would seem to be a good sign. But Hamid had to make a lot of saves last year, which suggests that there are cracks in the defense in front of him. Hamid has spent of the offseason dealing with injuries, and will likely be in the Gold Cup squad this summer. His backup, Andrew Dykstra, had better be prepared to step up.

Eddie Johnson didn’t produce the way DC expected last year, but more concerningly, he’s been out of preseason with a medical condition. Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva carried the scoring load, each with a team-high 11 goals. Those were also career highs.  A lot is going to be asked of those two, along with newly-acquired Jairo Arrieta, who had five goals for Columbus last year.

Glass half full: They have the same players and the same manager, so why not the same result?  DC surprised everyone with their success in 2014, but no one should be surprised if they end up atop the East in 2015. Then, it’s just a matter of succeeding in the playoffs, and they have the talent to do so.

Glass half empty: As Kansas City learned last year, success based on defense can be a hard thing to replicate. DC was pretty healthy in 2014, but injuries can derail even the best-laid plans. While competitors have made moves around them, DC largely stood still this offseason. I’d be surprised to see them miss the playoffs, but a drop to fourth or fifth could happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Six teams make the Eastern Conference playoffs this year. As ridiculous as that may sound, even worse is that NYRB will not be one of them. NYCFC has a better chance.

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