The offseason has been so busy, it's easy to forget that the games are actually played on the field. New York City FC won the MLS Cup with a victory over the Portland Timbers last season to capture their first trophy since joining the league in 2013. Can they repeat? If there's one thing MLS is known for it's parity and the last repeat champions were the LA Galaxy winning in 2011 and 2012, so the odds aren't in New York's favor. Holding on to MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos will go a long way to helping but the loss of James Sands to Rangers could prove to be a big one.
In a league of change, it is usually the most consistent teams who are able to win MLS Cup so we're taking a look at a few of the most likely teams to win it all this year. The list is not in order of likelihood and leaving New England off the list was tough but losing Matt Turner to Arsenal in the summer transfer window is a huge blow along with trying to replace the production of Tajon Buchanan in the lineup. Jozy Altidore will help but I don't feel like it'll be enough.
Let's look at the teams that I am tipping with a shot at raising the cup:
1. Seattle Sounders
The rich get richer and this offseason, the Sounders showed why they're able to contend year after year. Grabbing one of the best attacking players on the domestic market in Albert Rusnak, Brian Schmetzer has more options than his team that finished second in the West without Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro for most of the season. If Loderio's injury struggles continue this season, adding Rusnak's 11 goals and 11 assists to the lineup will help cover that hole.
Brad Smith moving to DC United will be a blow but a full year of Nouho Tolo at left back instead of center back in a back three makes Smith expendable. The depth the Sounders have is impressive and a line of Morris, Lodeiro, and Rusnak supporting one of the best forwards in MLS, Raul Ruidiaz means that the Sounders will compete on all fronts at a high level.
2. Nashville SC
Moving to the Western Conference may be one of the best things to happen to Nashville this season. While teams out West are in various stages of rebuilding and figuring out their best elevens, Nashville have an identity and Gary Smith may also be the best coach in the league. Adaptable and able to grind out wins, the West will have problems trying to get the ball past a Walker Zimmerman led defense even with Alistair Johnston turning out for Montreal now.