Major League Soccer is regarded as one of the lesser anticipated international football leagues in the United Kingdom but the minority who do enjoy the best North America has to offer can begin to lick their lips ahead of the 2015 season which gets underway on March 6.
It is the LA Galaxy who kickstart the new season across the pond as they prepare for life without Landon Donavan. His impressive 112 goals in 247 appearances for the Californian club has guided them onto countless titles. However, staying with the Galacticos is veteran forward Robbie Keane who is expected to up his game in order to provide a slice of the goals that would have come from his former counterpart.
The visitors at the StubHub centre on that Friday are Chicago Fire, who endured many difficulties throughout 2014, finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference with a mere six wins. But the arrival of ex-Wigan playmaker Shaun Maloney and return of former Fire shot-stopper Jon Busch has delivered brighter expectations for the upcoming season.
That is just the first of plenty of magnificent ties that lie before us in MLS, which now includes two new sides. New York City, a Manchester City franchise club, have experienced Spaniard David Villa to their name as well as former Chelsea legend Frank Lampard who is currently spending the American close season on loan at the Etihad.
Orlando City SC will also be making a debut appearance in 2015. Kaka is the hottest player on their hands but there is still room for improvements and developments. Martin Paterson also completed a loan switch across the pond from Huddersfield Town in order to get some continental experience.
Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are foreshadowed to run riot once again as they did in the 2014 season, guiding Seattle Sounders FC to the Western Conference title against clear favorites the Galaxy.
Another thoroughly anticipated season opener will be taking place at BC Place when Vancouver Whitecaps FC play host to Canadian rivals Toronto FC who let lead forward Jermain Defoe go so he could be reunited with Premier League football at Sunderland. A part of that switch saw Jozy Altidore make a long awaited return to MLS whilst Sebastian Giovinco also enters the gates at BMO Field.
As far as the Whitecaps are concerned, Carl Robinson will be hoping that his strikers can emulate the same rapid form as they performed last season. The partnership linking Darren Mattocks, Erik Hurtado, Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales proved to be a deadly force after they soared to the Western Conference play-offs. The signing of Po-Modou Kah from Portland Timbers will bring more confidence in the back-line for the Caps.
The signing of Fabian Espindola in 2014 was evidently a risk worth taking for DC United as his 11 goals in 27 games for the DCU's guided them onto Eastern Conference victory.
New York Red Bulls will be on the prowl for revenge especially when they come up against New England Revolution after they were so narrowly defeated in the play-offs which would have seen them feature in the MLS Cup final. The signing of Sacha Kljestan from Belgian giants Anderlecht on Tuesday will possibly bring more depth into the Red Bulls' midfield so as to Bradley Wright-Phillips up front, but the retirement of Thierry Henry is a devastating and emotional blow.
San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact will be hoping to make major improvements after they crashed and burnt in the 2014 campaign but Portland Timbers, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids will be hoping to build on reasonably average seasons previously.
FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake claimed third and fourth positions in the Western Conference but stood distantly away from the top two, Sounders and Galaxy, so will be hoping to invoke more pressure this time around.
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