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MLS 2012 season preview

Another MLS season, another soccer-specific stadium opening. This year, the Houston Dynamo moves into their own facility, leaving only the Revolution and Seattle Sounders sharing quarters with an NFL team.

The MLS’s on-field trend is to recruit Colombian players. The Revolution will have three Colombians, including former national team forward Jose “Pepe’’ Moreno. The high-profile Colombian newcomers include midfielder Jaime Castrillon (Colorado), forward Tressor Moreno (San Jose), defender Nelson Rivas (Montreal), and forward Jose Adolfo “Trencito’’ Valencia (Portland), whose father was a star player for the national team and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

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The Montreal Impact will compete in the Eastern Conference as the MLS’s 19th team. The league, which started its 17th season Wednesday, plans to add one more team.

Teams listed in order of predicted finish

EASTERN CONFERENCE


1. HOUSTON DYNAMO (12-9-13, 49 points)
Stadium: BBVA Compass (22,000)
Coach: Dominic Kinnear
Outlook: Dynamo will have a new stadium and Brian Ching returns after an expansion draft odyssey.

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (10-8-16, 46 points)
Stadium: Red Bull Arena (25,189)
Coach: Hans Backe
Outlook: Thierry Henry carries this club.

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (13-9-12, 51 points)
Stadium: LiveStrong Stadium (18,467)
Coach: Peter Vermes
Outlook: Bobby Convey and Paulo Nagamura add substance.

4. COLUMBUS CREW (13-13-8, 47 points)
Stadium: Crew Stadium (20,145)
Coach: Robert Warzycha
Outlook: Hopes riding on Milovan Mirosevic.

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5. PHILADELPHIA UNION (11-8-15, 48 points)
Stadium: PPL Park (18,500)
Coach: Peter Nowak
Outlook: It will be difficult to replace goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.

6. REVOLUTION (5-16-13, 28 points)
Stadium: Gillette Stadium (22,385)
Coach: Jay Heaps
Outlook: New outlook should help.

7. D.C. UNITED (9-13-12, 39 points)
Stadium: RFK (23,865)
Coach: Ben Olsen
Outlook: Big questions defensively.

8. CHICAGO FIRE (9-9-16, 43 points)
Stadium:Toyota Park (20,000)
Coach: Frank Klopas
Outlook: Minor improvements might not be enough.

9. TORONTO FC (6-13-15, 33 points)
Stadium: BMO Field (21,800)
Coach: Aron Winter
Outlook: Could be a year away – less if Geovanny Caicedo comes through.

10. MONTREAL IMPACT (9-11-8, 35 points in NASL)
Stadium: Saputo (20,341)
Coach: Jesse Marsch
Outlook: Tough season for newcomers.

WESTERN CONFERENCE


1. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (19-5-10, 67 points) Stadium:Home Depot Center (27,000)
Coach: Bruce Arena
Outlook: David Beckham-Landon Donovan-Robbie Keane trio should have one more title season in them. Departure of Omar Gonzalez leaves big hole in central defense.

2. REAL SALT LAKE (15-11-8, 53 points)
Stadium: Rio Tinto (20,008)
Coach: Jason Kreis
Outlook: Counting on Javi Morales to recover from injury.

3. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (18-7-9, 63 points)
Stadium: CenturyLink (38,500)
Coach: Sigi Schmid
Outlook: Best home-field support in the league. Must compensate for loss of keeper Kasey Keller to retirement.

4. FC DALLAS (15-12-7, 52 points)
Stadium: FC Dallas (21,193)
Coach: Schellas Hyndman
Outlook: Need David Ferreira to return to MVP form.

5. COLORADO RAPIDS (12-9-13, 49 points)
Stadium: Dick’s Sporting Goods (18,087)
Coach: Oscar Pareja
Outlook: Still have most of makings of 2010 championship team.

6. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (6-18-10, 28 points)
Stadium: BC Place (21,500)
Coach: Martin Rennie
Outlook: Should be potent with Sebastien Le Toux joining Eric Hassli up front.

7. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (8-12-14, 38 points)
Stadium: Buck Shaw (10,300)
Coach: Frank Yallop
Outlook: Victor “Muma’’ Bernardez and Tressor Moreno could be difference-makers.

8. PORTLAND TIMBERS (11-14-9, 42 points)
Stadium: Jeld-Wen (20,323)
Coach: John Spencer
Outlook: Counting on striker Kris Boyd.

9. CHIVAS USA (8-14-12, 36 points)
Stadium: Home Depot Center (27,000)
Coach: Robin Fraser
Outlook: Difficult year.

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