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Philadelphia Union

May 1, 2011

The Philadelphia Union is one of MLS’ newest clubs, joining the league as its 16th team in 2010. The Union have developed a hard-nosed mentality via manager Peter Nowak, but have assembled an exciting roster of young attackers including first overall pick Danny Mwanga. Philadelphia has the potential to make a lot of noise in the next few years if all of the pieces come together.

KEY PLAYER:
Sebastian Le Toux was cast aside by the Seattle Sounders, allowing Philadelphia to select the forward in the expansion draft. Even the Union, didn’t expect what would come next. Le Toux emerged as a talismanic figure along the Philly frontline, garnering MVP consideration after tallying 14 goals and 11 assists. Before joining MLS, Le Toux had made his name as one of the USL’s best players, then became Seattle’s first MLS signing.

STADIUM SITUATION:
The Philadelphia Union had the luxury of playing in a soccer-specific stadium from day one. PPL Park (capacity: 18,500) is located in the suburb of Chester, Penn. and sits in the shadow of Commodore Barry Bridge along the Delaware River.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON:
None.

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New York Red Bulls

May 1, 2011

The New York Red Bulls came into the league as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and languished in futility on the Giants Stadium turf. Red Bull bought the team in 2006 and the club got its own home, the beautiful Red Bull Arena. New York has never won a major trophy in its 15+ year existence but its location has made the team a desirable destination for international superstars such as Thierry Henry. Currently, New York has assembled one of the most solid starting elevens in league history.

KEY PLAYERS:
Thierry Henry is arguably just as famous for his on-field soccer career as David Beckham. The French forward has appeared in multiple World Cups and scored a whopping 174 goals in the English Premier League with Arsenal before transferring to Barcelona. Henry was nominated for FIFA World Player of the Year twice, and won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. The 33-year-old Henry has scored when on the pitch for New York, but has also struggled with nagging injuries.

Dwayne De Rosario has been front and center for several of MLS’ big moments. The Canadian playmaker won the MLS Goal of the Year award in back-to-back seasons. In 2001, “De-Ro” scored the game-winning goal in extra time of the MLS Cup to give his team (the San Jose Earthquakes at the time) the title. De Rosario also scored the game-winning goals in All-Star match wins over England’s Chelsea FC and West Ham United. In 2007, he scored yet another Cup winner, this time for Houston. De Rosario headed home a Brad Davis cross to give the Dynamo their second consecutive championship. In 2011, he was traded from Toronto to New York, his 4th MLS club. He is a two-time MLS MVP and is tied for the most MLS Best XI honors all-time with 5.

STADIUM SITUATION:
The Red Bulls began play in cavernous Giants Stadium, the former home of the NFL’s Giants and Jets, and played there until 2009. The next season, the team moved into Red Bull Arena (capacity: 25,189) in Harrison, NJ.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON:
None.

New England Revolution

May 1, 2011

The New England Revolution has been one of MLS’ most successful clubs since its inception. One of the league’s founding members, New England has been to 4 MLS Cups, losing each of them, including 3 in a row from 2005-07. The unfortunate results have led opposing fans to dub them “the Buffalo Bills of MLS.” The Revolution is known for a direct, physical style of play, preferred by Revolution manager Steve Nicol (the longest tenured head coach in MLS).

KEY PLAYERS:
Shalrie Joseph has controlled the midfield of the Revolution and dominated MLS for years. The Grenadan international is a big target in the center of the pitch and in recent years has featured as a striker to help the offensively challenged Revs. Scottish club Celtic FC once made an offer for the dreadlocked Joseph that was rejected by the league.

The Revolution picked up Benny Feilhaber through the MLS allocation process in 2011 after Philadelphia and Chivas USA passed on the opportunity to add him to their squads. Feilhaber scored the winning goal for the U.S. in the 2007 Gold Cup final and has found himself in and out of the U.S. lineup. Feilhaber most recently played in Denmark with AGF Aarhus.

CLUB ICON:
Taylor Twellman played a large role in each of New England’s runs to the MLS Cup. An extra-time goal put the Revs in the driver’s seat in 2006, but a Brian Ching goal only a minute later sent the match to penalties where Houston prevailed. Twellman became the youngest players to reach 100 goals in MLS history, but his career was cut short due to a head injury suffered by an errant goalkeeper punch. Twellman is currently the color commentator for the Philadelphia Union and an analyst for Comcast Sports Net New England.

STADIUM SITUATION:
The Revolution has played at Gillette Stadium (capacity: 68,756), also the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, since MLS began play in 1996. Revs fans are longing for a stadium within reach of Boston’s public transit system, as Gillette is located in Foxborough, south of Boston. Gillette is one of three MLS turf fields (Portland and Seattle are the others).

MAJOR TROPHIES WON: (2)
U.S. Open Cup (1): 2007
SuperLiga (1): 2008

Los Angeles Galaxy

May 1, 2011

The Los Angeles Galaxy has lived up to its Hollywood reputation, consistently fielding a lineup filled with stars. A founding member of MLS, Los Angeles has won 2 MLS titles and appeared in six finals. Los Angeles became the first club to sign a designated player, when it added David Beckham in 2006. After sustained success in its early years, a porous defense left the Galaxy toward the bottom of the standings in the mid-2000s. Since then, they have been of the league’s best.

KEY PLAYERS:
Landon Donovan is the most celebrated American player in history. Donovan has starred for the U.S. at three World Cups, scoring multiple memorable goals in the 2010 edition. Donovan has had European stints with Everton in England and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. He is one of MLS’ highest paid stars, earning $2 million per year. His name is one of the most identifiable to the casual American soccer fan and he has appeared in numerous commercials, most notably for Gatorade.

David Beckham is MLS’ global superstar, a player who has made a name for himself at legendary soccer clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid. “Becks” signed with the Galaxy in the summer of 2006, but arrived injured. Fans grew frustrated at Beckham’s absence and the team’s struggles. Finally in 2009, after Beckham’s commitment was questioned by Landon Donovan, the Galaxy turned it around, making it to MLS Cup. Beckham is the league’s highest paid player ($6.5 million per year), and has the option to own an MLS club at the end of his contract.

STADIUM SITUATION:
The Galaxy played in the Rose Bowl until 2003, when the Home Depot Center (capacity: 27,000) was completed in Carson, Calif. The Galaxy has shared the stadium with Chivas USA since its rivals entered MLS.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON: (8)
CONCACAF Champions Cup (1): 2000
MLS Cup (2): 2002, 2005
Supporters’ Shield (3): 1998, 2002, 2010
U.S. Open Cup (2): 2001, 2005

Houston Dynamo

May 1, 2011

The Houston Dynamo were born when MLS moved the San Jose Earthquakes to Texas because they had a pledge for a soccer-specific stadium. Well, more than 5 years later, San Jose is back, and neither club has their own stadium. However, Houston has broken ground on a new field and the club won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007. The players from those championship runs were also crucial to San Jose’s success in years prior.

KEY PLAYER:
Brian Ching has manned the Houston frontline since 2006 (and back to 2003 when they were San Jose). Ching, the first Hawaiian to be drafted by MLS, scored a game-tying goal in extra time of the 2006 MLS Cup, which sent the match to penalties. Houston would go on to lift its first of back-to-back trophies. Ching was a surprise inclusion in the 2006 USA World Cup squad, but was considered a snub by many when he failed to make the 2010 squad. Ching’s bicycle kick in 2006 was named the goal of the year.

STADIUM SITUATION:
Since entering the league in 2006, Houston has played at Robertson Stadium (capacity: 32,000), the home of University of Houston football. They Dynamo has its own stadium on the way, a downtown Houston venue scheduled to open in April 2012.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON: (2)
MLS Cup (2): 2006, 2007

FC Dallas

May 1, 2011

FC Dallas is a founding club in MLS, although the team was then known as the Dallas Burn. Throughout its opening decade, Dallas had moderate success, often reaching the playoffs, but never making the breakthrough needed for a championship. In recent years, Dallas has been plagued by poor attendance, due in part to the location of Pizza Hut Park, the club’s stadium located 25 miles away from Dallas in Frisco, TX. Schellas Hyndman has re-tooled the club as a contender, leading them to the 2010 MLS Cup final. The team has never won a MLS Cup or Supporters’ Shield.

KEY PLAYER:
David Ferreira’s arrival in MLS was made possible by Dallas’ partnership with Atletico Paranaense. Ferreira settled into the league and was named MLS MVP for his play in the 2010 season. Ferreira led Dallas to the MLS Cup where he scored the opening goal, but the team fell short.

STADIUM SITUATION:
FC Dallas played in the Cotton Bowl from 1996 to 2002, before spending a year at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, Texas. After returning to the Cotton Bowl, Dallas built a home of their own, Pizza Hut Park (capacity: 21,193) in Frisco, Texas. The suburban location has been condemned by fans, and Dallas has had one of MLS’ poorer attendances in recent years.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON: (1)
U.S. Open Cup (1): 1997

D.C. United

May 1, 2011

DC United has built a history unrivaled by any other club in MLS. United has won 4 MLS Cups, the most of any team. There’s a reason DC has the word “tradition” on the back of its jerseys. United won the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 and many MLS legends have called the nation’s capital home, including Roy Lassiter, Raul Diaz Arce, and Marco Etcheverry. The club’s first manager, Bruce Arena, went on to lead the United States in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

KEY PLAYER:
Charlie Davies was a rising striker for the U.S. national team, and had scored in the Confederations Cup and against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. Then, out late the night before a game, Davies was a passenger in an SUV that was split in two. Davies suffered severe injuries including a broken femur, and some thought he would never play again. Davies returned a year later, but wasn’t able to break back into the team at Sochaux (Davies’ French club). Sochaux decided to loan him to MLS, and D.C. was sitting atop the allocation order. Davies currently leads MLS in goals and is well on his way to regaining his prior form.

STADIUM SITUATION:
Since it came into the league in 1996, United has played their home matches at R.F.K. Stadium, the former home of the Washington Nationals. Talk of a stadium at Poplar Point in D.C. died down a couple years ago, and there are rumblings that if United can’t reach a stadium deal in the nation’s capital, the franchise may move to Baltimore.

MAJOR TROPHIES WON: (11)
CONCACAF Champions Cup (1): 1998
MLS Cup (4): 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004
Supporters’ Shield (4): 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007
U.S. Open Cup (2): 1996, 2008