This past weekend was the first round of fixtures of the 2018 MLS season. Last year saw the best team in the league, Toronto FC hoist the MLS cup trophy in front of their home fans at BMO Field. While Toronto will obviously be looking to defend their title, the league is looking stronger and more competitive than ever. Here is a Just The PHacts glimpse of what to expect going into the 2018 MLS season.
Players to watch:
Josef Martinez F Atlanta United: Martinez was sensational for Atlanta United last season, finding the back of the net 19 times in his debut season. Martinez was also a finalist for the MLS Newcomer of the year, expect big things from the Venezuelan’s second season.
Carlos Vela F Los Angeles Football Club: Vela is set to lead the inaugural LAFC season after spending the last six years in Spain playing for Real Sociedad. Vela is without question the best addition to the MLS and he’ll be a high impact player for LA this season.
Andre Blake GK Philadelphia Union: The Jamaican keeper has consistently proven himself as the best net minder in the MLS. The big question mark will be the Union’s ability to defend opposing forwards but anything short of a spectacular shot, expect the safe hands of Andre Blake to be on the other side.
Alphonso Davies M Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Davies is one of the brightest wonder boys in the MLS today. At a mere 17 years old, Davies only made a few appearances for Vancouver last season but is now expected to play and start a majority of their games. Just a game into the new season and Davies already has a goal and an assist.
May 9th 2018: Seattle Sounders @ Toronto FC: This will be the first time the two teams meet since Toronto raised the MLS cup back in December. Expect a ruckus BMO Field as Toronto will host Seattle in the MLS Cup rematch.
Be sure to pay attention to all of the fixtures throughout August 22-26. Labeled Heineken Rivalry Week, this will be the most action packed week in the entire MLS regular season.
MLS 2018 Prediction:
This is without question going to be the most competitive season in MLS history. Both conferences have gotten a lot better which will make for no easy wins for any teams throughout the season. A big factor will be whether a team is playing home or away. MLS fandom is growing at an alarming rate and each team’s stadium has a unique game day environment that will be tough to go into and win for visiting teams. Expect the following teams to still be fighting for a spot in the title match by the end of the season, from the Western Conference, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, and Seattle Sounders. From the Eastern Conference, Columbus Crew, both New York teams (Red Bull and FC), and Toronto FC.