Major League Soccer will kick off its 21st season this weekend

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard, left, controls the ball against Santos Laguna defender Nestor Araujo during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League soccer quarterfinal in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

There is not quite as much excitement surrounding this year's start as their are no new expansion teams and fewer big-name signings than in years past. Nonetheless, this season promises to be one of the best as many of those marquee signings like Andrea Pirlo, Giovani Dos Santos and Frank Lampard begin to settle in their second seasons in the league. The following teams, in my opinion, will challenge for the MLS Cup come the end of the season.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: The Whitecaps continued to add to an already talented roster this offseason. With the additions of players like Blas Perez and Christian Bolanos together with established stars like Kendall Waston and Pedro Rosales. The chemistry that Vancouver has from last season will surely pay dividends. 

Columbus Crew SC: After falling to Portland in the MLS Cup Finals last season, the Crew will look to bounce back this season and once again challenge for the cup. After prolonged negotiations, the Crew recently resigned star forward Kei Kamara to a new deal, making him a designated player. Columbus hopes the pay raise will provide the striker the extra motivation to once again score 26 goals. Led by one of the best coaches in the league in Gregg Berhalter, the Crew should be one of the better teams in the East this season.

FC Dallas: After finishing as the top team in the West last regular season, Dallas failed to make it past the conference semifinal in the playoffs. Built on a mixture of home grown talent and strong veterans, head coach Oscar Pareja should have his work cut out for him this season. Dallas’ main weakness last season was up top and with the addition of Maxi Urruti from Portland, it seems like Pareja has found his man.

Portland Timbers: This year’s reigning champions have the potential to maintain their crown. Only three teams have ever won back-to-back titles so it will be interesting to see how the Timbers fare. Portland lost a key player in Rodney Wallace, but made up for it with the acquisitions of league veterans like Ned Grabavoy and Jack McInerney. Lucas Melano will need to justify his price tag this year if Portland wants to have any chance at a repeat.

Toronto FC: Toronto made lots of noise last season when it brought in United States mainstays Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. Year No. 1 with the talented duo did not work as well as the front office would have hoped as they barely featured together due to injuries and national team duty. Despite the tandem likely missing time once again this summer as the US competes in the Copa America, what they do when they are with the team should be enough to get them to the playoffs. Altidore has had a terrific offseason, dropping 10 pounds, expect the striker to have a terrific year.


Antonio Salazar is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at antonio.salazr@uconn.edu.